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This spring one of the treasures of our Archives and Special Collections is setting off on a journey to Paris where it will feature in a major new exhibition on the life of the Emperor Napoleon. The volume is a British military signal book which contained detailed instructions for the garrison guarding Napoleon during his exile on the island of St Helena.
The signal book is a well-travelled volume. It was first used by Colonel Mark Wilks, Governor General of St Helena in 1815. This piece of Napoleonic memorabilia passed through the hands of a number of collectors until it was purchased at auction in New York by the family of Burt Eddy Taylor in 1928. In 1969 Mr Taylor donated his collection of Napoleonic material, including the signal book, to the new university library at Stirling. Now, in 2016 it sets sail again, for the Musée de l’Armée in Paris.
The signal book will feature in Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène. La Conquête de la Mémoire, a major new exhibition looking at Napoleon’s period of exile on the mid-Atlantic island which opens on 6 April 2016. Our small, scruffy volume will take its place alongside an extensive range of items from collections across Europe which have been brought together to tell the story of Napoleon’s captivity on St Helena.
The signal book highlights the lengths the to which the British went to ensure Napoleon did not escape from the island. The inside covers illustrate the flags and signals which were to be used for communication including those for raising the alarm if Napoleon was missing. To limit the chance of rescue by his supporters a garrison of 1,300 troops was placed on the tiny island. In addition four Royal Navy ships patrolled offshore. Within the pages of the book further detailed instructions were laid out in the event of Napoleon’s absence:
‘the Signal Officers of the different posts are strictly enjoined to lose no time in communicating the intelligence personally to the places nearest them where troops may be stationed to the end that patroles may be immediately sent out in every direction to insure the impracticability of any person escaping from the island.’
The procedures put in place evidently worked. Napoleon remained on the island until his death in May 1821.
Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène. La Conquête de la Mémoire
Musée de l’Armée, Paris
6th April – 24th July 2016
Our touring Hosts & Champions Exhibition will be on display at Trinity Church, Irvine, until this Friday 17th April. In this article Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, looks at the some of the exhibition items from the Commonwealth Games 2014.
This is the final tour of the series looking at the Hosts and Champions Exhibition in Irvine, Trinity Church. Each of these tours has looked to highlight some of the iconic and exciting materials from the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive that the Exhibition displays, and it would be remiss of me not to include the most recent and local of the Commonwealth Games; Glasgow 2014!
The Hosts and Champions Exhibition moves on to Carnoustie, Dundee this weekend, so if you would like to see this display before it ends, go now!
After opening our touring Hosts & Champions Exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides a tour highlighting some of the items on display.
In the Hosts and Champions Exhibition in Irvine items from the Commonwealth Games Archive highlight the history of the Commonwealth Games internationally, and locally within Scotland. This includes some of the legacies that have been left behind by the Games, not only in buildings and facilities that the public can use, but in design as well. Today’s tour looks at the tartans that have been created for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
Another tour to follow soon!
Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, interviews Suzanne Fernando, a Queen’s Baton Bearer in Irvine, Trinity Church at the Hosts and Champions Exhibition.
During one of my visits to the Hosts and Champions Exhibition to record footage for a series of tours that highlight different aspects of the exhibition, I had the delight of meeting Suzanne Fernando. Both Suzanne and her daughter were selected to be Baton Bearers during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Here is what she has to say about the experience. Additional footage has been supplied courtesy of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Scotland.
Continuing with our tours of the Hosts & Champions Exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, introduces some of the mascots on display.
A family favourite, mascots are now a staple of the Commonwealth Games. Starting from Mac in 1986, Glasgow 2014’s mascot was an adorable thistle that won the hearts of the city during the Games. There are however several mascots that have featured internationally as the Games has travelled across the Commonwealth. Here are a few that are currently housed in the Hosts and Champions Exhibition.
As we prepare to open our touring Hosts & Champions exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, to the public this Friday, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides a re-cap of the opening preview.
For Commonwealth Day on Monday, a preview of the Hosts and Champions Exhibition went ahead before its full opening this Friday.
After several weeks of arranging the displays, creating additional iPad materials and the preparation of captions, the preview was opened by a few notable speakers:
- Lesley Forsyth – Cultural development manager for North Ayrshire Council welcomed and introduced the exhibition and each guest
- Margaret Burgess – Minister for housing and welfare, MSP for Cunninghame South
- Michael Cavanagh – Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland
- The baton bearers from North Ayrshire Suzanne Fernando and her daughter shared their experience of carrying the baton for Glasgow 2014, and why they were chosen
- Joan Sturgeon – The provost, North Ayrshire Council rounded off the speeches by officially opening the exhibition
The exhibition will now be open every Monday, Friday and Saturday between 10am to 4pm in Trinity Church, Bridgegate, Irvine, starting this Friday 13th. The exhibition will run from March 13 to April 17.
This is the first venue of the Hosts and Champions touring exhibition, and after Irvine this show will travel to:
Carnoustie – April 20th – May 25th
Back to Stirling to the MacRobert Centre – July 20th – September 7th
Dalkeith – September 14th – October 26th
Dumfries – October 26th – November 30th
Stranraer December 7th – 28th
So if you cannot make it through to see the exhibition in Irvine, watch out for it visiting a town near you, as more venues and tour stops are still being arranged. Up to date information about the tour can be found here and on the University of Stirling Archives twitter, with #Hostsandchampions.
The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to announce a new exhibition presenting a selection of foreign editions of Iain Banks’ novels from his personal collection. The exhibition highlights the international appeal of Banks’ fiction and shows the variety of ways his work was presented in different countries around the world. The volumes on display are part of a larger collection of almost 200 editions of Banks’ work translated into a range of languages and designed to reflect the tastes of readers in a range of markets including France, Germany, Israel, Russia and South Korea.
The exhibition also features a book sculpture commemorating Iain Banks which was presented to the University by the Edinburgh International Book Festival last September. The sculpture is part of a set produced by an anonymous artist celebrating literature and the love of words. It represents Banks’ 1992 novel The Crow Road and is accompanied by a tribute to the writer from author Ian Rankin. The exhibition is on display in the Archives & Special Collections area of the University Library and runs until Friday 4th April.
Iain Banks was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed Scottish novelists of his generation, and an alumnus of the University of Stirling. The University is delighted to be working with his estate to collect and preserve an archive of his working papers and make this material available to researchers with an interest in his work.
Interviewed by the University for an alumni profile Banks reflected on his time at Stirling:
“I did get in a lot of writing… as well as a fair amount of walking in the hills. What I remember most keenly is the wonderful feeling of freedom of being there, and the sheer intoxication of living and working in a place devoted to learning, to the pursuit of knowledge. I still smile when I think of the place, the time, and my years at Stirling were some of the happiest and most productive of my life. All that, plus I got to be an extra in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, How cool was that?”
Some examples of Banks’ student writing can be found amongst the University’s own archives in the pages of the creative writing journal Cairn. Launched in Spring 1973 Cairn featured poetry and prose written by students and staff of the University, including the poet Norman McCaig. The journal is one of several student titles which are held in the University Archives along with a full run of the student newspaper Brig, which was first published in 1969.
A plastic Oscar… a pair of shoe buckles… an old wooden sign… If you visit the university library over the coming months you may notice some rather unusual objects on display in Archives & Special Collections. These items form part of a selection of ‘Treasures’ from our collections, chosen by library and academic staff to highlight the wide range of material available to researchers. Each of the selected items has its own fascinating story, which is told in the short essay which accompanies each of the exhibits. The exhibition touches on both great historical events and small family dramas, and highlights periods of great cultural change. For those interested in exploring further information on our collections can be found here, while an online version of the exhibition can be viewed here.
Last Friday evening a packed Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum celebrated the opening of a new exhibition of material from the University of Stirling’s Scottish Political Archive. Democracy for Scotland: the referendum experience focuses on the campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the second half of the twentieth century. In particular it chronicles the history behind the two devolution referendums of 1979 and 1997 and explores the nature of the Yes and No campaigns for both referendums, their results and the re-establishment of a Scottish Parliament.
In conjunction with the exhibition the Scottish Political Archive is hosting a series of lectures at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum on Thursday lunchtimes at 12pm. The full lecture programme is as follows:
3rd May: ‘Scottish literary magazines and devolution’, Linda Gunn
Linda will examine the editorial processes of Cencrastus and The (New) Edinburgh Review.
10th May: ‘Let the People Decide’, Dennis Canavan
Dennis will give some personal recollections of the Referendum campaigns, the intervening period of 1979-1997 and ask what lessons can be learned from the past to help shape Scotland’s future.
17th May: ‘From 1979 to 2014: Referendum Campaigning and the Future of Scotland’, Peter Lynch
24th May: ‘Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936), Stan Bell, John McIntyre and Willie Thom
A celebration on the 160th birthday of Cunninghame Graham, who first proposed the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1888.
31st May: ‘Political Fictions’, James Robertson
James discusses the fictionalising of 20th-century Scottish political history in his novel And the Land Lay Still, and asks why there has been relatively little ‘political’ fiction in Scottish literature.
7th June: ‘The Radical Scotland Project: the making of a magazine’, Kevin Dunion
Tickets for the lectures are £3 and are available at the Stirling Smith (Tel : 01786 471917). The exhibition runs from 27th April – 10 June 2012.
Our latest exhibition in the university library features Archbishop Robert Leighton, who was Bishop of Dunblane and then Archbishop of Glasgow in the 17th century. As 2011 is the 400th anniversary of Leighton’s birth (we don’t know his birthday, unfortunately), the exhibition celebrates this remarkable man and his collection of books.
Leighton lived through one of the most turbulent periods in Scottish history. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, yet took up the office of Bishop of Dunblane in the restored Episcopal Church, in an attempt to reconcile Presbyterians and Episcopalians in a united Church of Scotland. Aware that he might be accused of seeking self-aggrandisement, he accepted a post in Dunblane, the smallest and poorest see in the country. He was later installed as Archbishop of Glasgow, though he failed to bring about the reconciliation in church affairs which he so desired.
Leighton was a learned scholar, with wide ranging interests. He bequeathed some 1500 books and pamphlets to the Cathedral of Dunblane. A library building was erected between 1684 and 1688 in order to house the books for the use of the local clergy. From 1734 the library became one of the first subscription libraries in Scotland and thrived until around 1870. Leighton’s collection of books was supplemented by 18th and 19th century additions, bringing the total bookstock to around 3350 items. The collection covers a variety of subject areas, including history and politics (particularly 17th century), theology, medicine, travel, language and the occult. There is also much to interest the book historian.
The Leighton Library is open to tourists during the summer months. Thanks to an agreement with the Trustees of the Leighton Library, researchers may consult Leighton Library books in Stirling University Library (please contact Helen Beardsley, firstname.lastname@example.org for further information). There are no study facilities in the library in Dunblane. We will fetch the books required from Dunblane. All of the Leighton Library’s books are included on our own online catalogue.
The exhibition highlights some of the Leighton Library’s treasures, including a 1562 edition of the New Testament in Syriac, a 1667 index of books prohibited by the Catholic Church, as well as volumes of Buffon’s Histoire naturelle (1749-1804) with their superb illustrations. We are grateful to Dr Alastair Mann for contributing his expertise to the exhibition.
Further information and a short film about the Leighton Library can be found here.