Autograph books: from simple charm to simply stunning

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Blog post researched and written by Kate Guthrie, Collections Assistant – Archives

Remember autograph books?

For those of us old enough to have had one back in the day, they were the Facebook of the pre-internet age; a little album to collect the thoughts and witticisms of your friends, family and occasionally even the famous. Sometimes kept and treasured for many years after the last entries were written in them, autograph books could become memory-holders too, for friends the album-keeper had lost touch with and older family members who’d passed away.

An autograph book tended to arrive sometime around the pre-teen/early teenage years – perhaps in a Christmas stocking – and the first autographs to grace the new album might well be the ‘rellies’ gathered for Christmas lunch. Everyone had a favourite verse or two they carefully wrote in – and the tricky part was coming up with something no-one else had written before you. It was a good idea to get in early, as Nelson Stockbridge’s father did back in 1945…

By Hook or by Crook,
I’ll be first in this Book
                Dad, Xmas 1945

Stockbridge, Nelson: Autograph book (1945-1949), Misc-MS-2072

Nelson’s Auntie Ruby had some sage advice a few years later…

 All the people o’er our town
Are always running people down
So let us turn to the Loving Cup
And do a little running up

Stockbridge, Nelson : Autograph book (1945-1949), Misc-MS-2072

Another personal favourite from Nelson’s album is this one from J. Hurn, dated 1946:

Mary had a little watch
She swallowed it one day
And now she’s taking castor oil
To pass the time away.

Stockbridge, Nelson : Autograph book (1945-1949), Misc-MS-2072

We don’t know much about Nelson Stockbridge, but there are one or two clues in the autograph book itself and in its provenance. The album was found in the loft of the hall of All Saints’ Anglican Church, Dunedin and donated to the Hocken by the All Saints’ vicar in 2009. It includes references to Terrace End School and Brooklyn School, suggesting Nelson lived in Palmerston North and Wellington as a boy.

Time to hit the search engines…

Births must have occurred more than one hundred years ago to be searchable on the Births, Deaths and Marriages historical database. Deaths, however, can be searched right up until the present day and often reveal a birth date or age as well. If you’re interested in family history research, it’s something worth remembering.

Nelson Stockbridge is a less-common name, which also makes a quick search worthwhile. And there’s a promising hit: Nelson William Stockbridge died in 2009 (coincidentally the year his autograph book came to light), and his date of birth is given as 23 January 1935, meaning he was soon to turn eleven when he was given that Christmas autograph book.

And how did that book make its way to All Saints Anglican in Dunedin? That faithful workhorse Google uncovers a document that lists Rev. Nelson William Stockbridge as a Methodist minister, revealing a likely clergical link in Nelson’s adult years.

Nelson’s autograph book is one of many in the Hocken archival collection – and some of them are stunning. A stroll through the collections (or a search on Hākena) shows there was much more to autograph books than witty rhyming ditties, particularly if we step back a little earlier in their history.

So how long have autograph books been around? At a guess, I’d have said a century or so.

I’d have been wrong.

Autograph books originated in the mid-sixteenth century in Europe when travelling university students carried these small, leather-bound albums and collected the sentiments and comments of their patrons, mentors and companions – a bit like a pre-internet LinkedIn. In those times when only male offspring were deemed worth educating at universities, collecting autographs would have been a male-only occupation.

The first true autograph books appeared in German and Dutch linguistic regions, possibly originating in Wittenberg. (Thank you, Wikipedia).

Known as an album amicorum (‘book of friends’) or stammbuch (‘friendship book’), the oldest autograph book on record is that of Claude de Senarclens, an associate of John Calvin, and dates back to 1545. By the end of the century, they were common among students and scholars throughout Germany.

The Germans and Dutch may have invented the autograph book. But, from the evidence I’ve seen in the Hocken’s own autograph book collection, it was the women of Victorian and Edwardian times who took autograph collecting to a whole new artistic level.

Simon, Margaret : Autograph and sketch book (1905-c.1910), MS-3564

Margaret Simon, or Peggy as she was known, was one of eight children of James and Ellen Simon. The family owned a business, Simon Brothers, which imported and manufactured footwear, and their home was in Mornington, Dunedin.

A beautiful autograph and sketchbook was kept by Peggy Simon from 1905 until around the time of her marriage to Rudolph Wark in 1910. Peggy and Rudolph settled in Christchurch after their marriage and the autograph book, along with a family photograph, was donated to the Hocken in 2010 by Peggy’s nephew, Herbert William Tennet.

The Simon family. Peggy is pictured standing back left. Simon, Margaret : Autograph and sketch book (1905-c.1910), MS-3564

Autographers (is that even a word?) put a lot of time, skill and thought into creating their small piece of posterity in a friend’s autograph book. Just look at the illlustrations in these examples from Peggy Simon’s album.

Simon, Margaret : Autograph and sketch book (1905-c.1910), MS-3564

Definition of a friend
A friend – one human being whom we can
Trust always, who knows the best and the
worst of us, and who loves us in spite of
our faults
23-9-07                 Jep Cameron, Dunedin

Simon, Margaret : Autograph and sketch book (1905-c.1910), MS-3564

I’ll not deny women are foolish
God Almighty made them so
To match the men.

T.C. 1907
Trot Cameron

Simon, Margaret : Autograph and sketch book (1905-c.1910), MS-3564

Flowers often appear in autograph illustrations and pansies seem to be a favourite. At first, I wondered why pansies, rather than forget-me-nots or rosemary (for remembrance). Was it because pansies are pretty, colourful and fun to paint?

A contributor to Isabella Blair’s autograph book revealed the answer – a phrase linked to Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Tily, Isabella : Autograph book (1909-1951), Misc-MS-0915

There is pansies, that’s for thoughts…

Another contributor to Isabella’s album had a slightly different version of the same sentiment…

Tily, Isabella : Autograph book (1909-1951), Misc-MS-0915

Dusky pansies, let them be for memory
Anne D. Craig
O.U.
Dunedin

And of course, forget-me-nots do make the occasional appearance in these floral tributes.

Tily, Isabella : Autograph book (1909-1951), Misc-MS-0915

Men are often capable of greater things
than they perform. They are sent into
the world with bills of credit, and
seldom draw to their full extent

Isabella Blair (later to be Isabella Tily) was a student of Dunedin Teachers’ College and Otago University and many of the contributors to her autograph album have added the abbreviations OU or TC after their names. Like many others of the Victorian/Edwardian period, the album is a reflection of Isabella’s early adult life. One friend has even sketched what seems to be a portrait of Isabella at that time.

Tily, Isabella : Autograph book (1909-1951) Misc-MS-0915

Compare the sketch with this photograph of Isabella Tily in later years, when she and husband Harry Tily were keen members of the Dunedin Naturalists’ Field Club and Isabella wrote regular articles on birds for Dunedin’s Evening Star. (The bird in the photograph is a kererū fledgling which she raised after finding it fallen from its nest.)

Isabella Tily with kererū chick (Originals P97-155/4)

After completing her teacher training, Isabella went on to teach at Green Island School, just as the First World War was ending. She took her autograph book with her and collected the autographs, photographs and thoughts of her fellow teachers in 1918.

Tily, Isabella : Autograph book (1909-1951) Misc-MS-0915

A few years later, Dunedin schoolboy Jack Smith was also a keen collector of autographs. Jack was an Otago Boys High School first eleven cricketer and avid sports fan. Picture a schoolboy, pen and autograph book in hand, racing across the playing field, collecting the signatures of his heroes at the end of the game. But Jack was more than an autograph collector. He also illustrated his album pages with schoolboy enthusiasm.

Smith, Jack : Autograph Book (c.1920-1947), Misc-MS-1879

Smith, Jack : Autograph Book (c.1920-1947), Misc-MS-1879

Smith, Jack : Autograph Book (c.1920-1947), Misc-MS-1879

Jack’s album not only provides a glimpse of the sporting highlights of that period. He was also there on the spot when Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition set forth from Dunedin in 1930.

Smith, Jack : Autograph Book (c.1920-1947), Misc-MS-1879

Smith, Jack : Autograph Book (c.1920-1947), Misc-MS-1879

Finally, there’s one more autograph album that absolutely deserves a mention. It’s perhaps my personal favourite and dates back to that late Victorian period when young ladies – or at least those of upper/middle-class upbringing – had time for leisurely pursuits like autograph-collecting and an education that included skills in sketching and the use of watercolours.

Kathleen Creagh. Album 174 Creagh family : Portraits

Kathleen Creagh was one such young woman. Born in Oamaru in 1882, she compiled her autograph album during her young adult years and, from the similar style of many of the sketches, seems to have illustrated many of the pages herself after collecting the autographs and thoughts of friends and family.

Middleditch, Mary : Autograph book of Kathleen Creagh (1897-1934), Misc-MS-0826

Middleditch, Mary : Autograph book of Kathleen Creagh (1897-1934), Misc-MS-0826

Take a closer look at the detail in some of Kathleen’s sketches. These illustrations are tiny – only a couple of centimetres square. It’s interesting to note they also have a somewhat ‘English’ feel to them, given that Kathleen herself was born and raised in Oamaru.

Middleditch, Mary : Autograph book of Kathleen Creagh (1897-1934), Misc-MS-0826

Not all Kathleen’s illustrations were romantic country scenes, however. A Halloween-esque verse shows she also had a keen sense of fun.

Middleditch, Mary : Autograph book of Kathleen Creagh (1897-1934), Misc-MS-0826

Kathleen went on to marry Charles Napier in 1906 and the couple had a daughter, Mary, who was also a talented artist. Mary Napier specialised in mosaics and worked as a theatre producer. She married sculptor John Middleditch and, in later years, donated both her mother’s autograph album and a Creagh family photograph album to the Hocken, along with papers relating to the Middleditchs themselves.

Charles Napier (2nd left) and Kathleen Creagh (on his right). Moeraki, 1906. Album 174 Creagh family : Portraits

So not only did Kathleen keep the autograph book of her youth for her own lifetime; it later became a treasured possession of her daughter, ultimately being entrusted to the care of Hocken. It illustrates a longevity in autograph books that far outlasts the modern-day postings made on Facebook.

Maybe it’s time to revive that autograph book tradition, so that others in the future can catch a glimpse of our own modern-day social lives. A Christmas stocking-stuffer perhaps?

Middleditch, Mary : Autograph book of Kathleen Creagh (1897-1934), Misc-MS-0826

 

Queer archives : the papers of Yoka Neuman

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and prepared by HUMS 301 Intern Rebecca White

To commemorate the end of Dunedin Pride Month 2022 I thought it was fitting to highlight some of our LGBTQ+ holdings here at the Hocken and discuss past and present issues surrounding collection and availability of such archival materials.

At the Hocken Archives we hold an extensive collection of 37 boxes filled with
the donations of (or in the name of) Yoka Neuman – a prominent figure in the feminist,
lesbian, and human rights circles in New Zealand before her passing at age 93 last November. The majority of this collection references the Lesbian Mothers Defence Fund (LMDF) which she founded in 1979 and led until 1992. There are also numerous items relating to feminist movements, the Homosexual Law Reform Bill 1986, and other social issues of the time. Alongside the LMDF, Yoka also helped set up Te Whare Pounamu Women’s Refuge Dunedin, Rape Crisis Dunedin, and the Women’s Resource centre, was a leading volunteer at ‘Daybreak’ the first women’s bookshop in New Zealand, attended the 2019 climate action march in Dunedin, and marched in solidarity with the nurses’ strike in June 2021.

Through my internship I have been working to appraise and catalogue a new donation
to the Neuman, Yoka : Papers collection. This blog post will mainly centre on the items of this new donation. There are many items within this collection I could touch on, but for the sake of keeping this post concise I will just present a few of the highlights.

Handwritten note by Yoka Neuman,  2000, MS-5159/046

On the back of a June 2000 calendar page is a handwritten note written by Yoka
Neuman. While the note is brief, it details some of her personal experiences after coming out in the late 1970s compared to contemporary experiences of coming out. An item such as this is crucial in the sense that LGBT+ identities in New Zealand history are more politicised than humanised. Only recently have academic works begun to appear in which LGBT+ lives have been analysed as lives rather than political topics (see the works of Chris Brickell for example). Although the note has not yet been made available for viewing at the Hocken it will be listed as item MS-5159/046 in the near future.

In this note Yoka speaks on changing attitudes towards coming out publicly, with
particular reference to how “the present student body” could not imagine the “opposition, division, condemnation” as well as “dubious pleasure” which came along with her experience of coming out in the late 1970s. This note presents, at the very least, a change of public and private opinions on coming out. Coming out is no longer widely seen as a condemnable offence – at least by law or the larger part of society in New Zealand – as indicated by the recent banning of conversion therapy passed by parliament earlier this year.

Another item of interest in the new donation was a box of cassette tapes – in particular
one labelled “Yoka N/Leah to Jenny R.” (MS-5159/076). On this tape, we are able to hear Yoka speak about the “flash in the pan” nature of the establishment of the LMDF, running the LMDF on her own 5 years after it was established, and successful and unsuccessful cases of custody for lesbian mothers. Notably, in this tape Yoka describes the formation of the LMDF as a retaliation to a Families Need Fathers representative arguing on radio that children should not be able to be brought up in homosexual households under the Guardianship Amendment Bill 1979. Yoka explained she was so frustrated by the broadcast that she immediately typed up a submission to counter it, signed in the name of the National Gay Rights Coalition to give it more credibility. While researching for this submission, she stumbled across the LMDF in Canada and decided to set up a similar organisation in New Zealand.

So why is it so important to hold items such as these in archives? Put simply,
representation of traditionally marginalised communities in archives is crucial to the
preservation of the history of that community. According to Franklin Robinson in ‘Queering the Archive’ – “unless we leave behind a full range of primary documentation in publicly accessible archives and libraries from which LGBTQ history can be written, the history will not be written, or not written accurately and in context.” That is, selection, arrangement, preservation, and accessibility of archival collections are intrinsically linked with the collective process of remembrance or forgetting of communal histories. By not actively engaging with traditionally marginalised communities and without the inclusion of these voices in archival practice, systematic disenfranchisement of those communities is created. LGBTQ sources are frequently inaccessible to the wider public. Lack of relevant donations to a particular archive is an issue which the archivist is frequently challenged by – many archives rely heavily on donations sourced from the community, but oftentimes people do not realise the historical significance of the items they have.

Unlike the general papers, articles, books, and newsletters which were already a part
of the Neuman, Yoka : Papers collection at the Hocken, the more atypical, unique items such as the handwritten note and tape recording make it possible to reconstruct connections, thought processes, opinions held in a time very different from now; a time which, as Yoka pointed out in her note, many people have never experienced and could not imagine. Slowly, with additions of items such as these that are more than just factual, the past becomes illustrated from the point of view of someone who was there, coloured by their emotions and motivations.

References

“Courageous kuia inspirational figure for many,” Otago Daily Times, 22 January 2022, p.26.
Handwritten note by Yoka Neuman, 2000, MS-5159/046.
Robinson, Franklin. “Queering the Archive”. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking vol. 1, no. 2 (2014): 195-198.
Tape of Yoka interview on Lesbian Mother’s Defence Fund, 6 September 1985, MS-5159/076.

Michael Trumic: A well urned career

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by Jen Jeffery, Collections Assistant – Archives

Mirko (Michael) Trumic was born in Yugoslavia in 1928 and moved to Dunedin as a refugee in 1950 post-war. Trumic commented that Dunedin was ‘Not quite the tropical Gauginesque milieu [he] had imagined.’[1] Trumic had spent two years prior as a medical student before he and his fiancée fled to New Zealand to escape from war-torn Europe. Once in Dunedin, Trumic began to make friends with other European refugees, including painter Rudi Gopas. Trumic recalls that Gopas had a small studio in central Dunedin and the pair used to meet there every weekend. Trumic added that the men used to drive around Dunedin; Trumic would take photographs whilst Gopas would draw. It was Gopas who pushed Trumic to start drawing.[2] Gopas encouraged Trumic to pursue the arts, and their relationship transitioned into that of student and teacher.[3]

Michael Trumic throwing on the pottery wheel, n.d. (MS-5122/004)

Both men moved to Christchurch where they joined a lively arts and intellectual circle, as Gopas became a lecturer at the School of Fine Arts in Ilam. Trumic found himself in Yvonne Rust’s design studio and discovered clay. Trumic had the realisation that he was a three-dimensional person rather than two-dimensional. Gopas was not impressed.[4] Trumic recalls an interaction with Rust at her studio. Trumic sat at the wheel whilst Rust was trying to convince him that this was not his first time on the wheel – as Trumic remembers Rust exclaiming after he his first attempt “You must have [thrown clay before] – you made a beaut cylinder in one go!”[5] At the same time as Trumic was introduced to clay, he was working at a steel factory, where he would sculpt small abstract art pieces from polished steel. In a few years, Trumic became a full time potter, a first for Canterbury.[6]

Michael Trumic throwing on the pottery wheel, 1989. (MS-5122/073)

In 1960 Trumic established an art gallery “Several Arts”. The name portrayed Trumic’s stance on art, by simply allowing the work he admired to be displayed. This outlook made Several Arts a unique gallery of its time. Several Arts also served as a place where artists around Canterbury could gather and allowed younger artists with little experience to exhibit their works. Whilst the gallery kept Trumic occupied during the day, the evenings and weekends allowed Trumic to potter away. For ten years under Trumic’s supervision the gallery was incredibly successful, and become renowned across New Zealand and Australia.

Michael Trumic’s Pottery, n.d. (MS-5122/004)

After the success of the Several Arts, Trumic began voyaging around the South Island and teaching workshops on all things clay. This included regular ceramic classes in Christchurch for interested potters, which evolved into part-time teaching at Christchurch Teachers’ College and occasionally for universities when they demanded additional guidance.[7] In 1972 Trumic was asked to travel to Sydney for a Ceramic Study Group and workshop, to talk to artists and their teachers. Trumic was then invited to the Art School in Canberra, as a demonstrator and speaker to senior art students.

Michael Trumic’s students at Otago Polytechnic, 1990. (MS-5122/057)

In 1975 Trumic was asked by the Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts to teach part-time. Within a few years the part-time position grew into full-time, and eventually Trumic established the Diploma in Ceramics, Sculpture and three-dimensional design. Trumic’s students remember him fondly, however he had a strong presence, and was known to “rub people up the wrong way.” Nelson ceramic sculptor Christine Boswijk adds that Trumic was “a hard taskmaster….He taught with his belly. He was unmerciful. He took that risk to make you an artist.” [8] It was well known that Trumic could bring students to tears, but in the same breath lift them up again. In 1989, Trumic was awarded with an Honorary Diploma in Fine Arts with Honours from Otago Polytechnic in recognition for his services to ceramic education in New Zealand. This was the first Diploma of its kind presented in New Zealand. After nearly 20 years of service, Trumic resigned from teaching in 1992.

Michael Trumic’s Honorary Diploma, 1989. (MS-5122/073)

Trumic lived with his wife Wendy Wadworth, who in her own right was an accomplished artist. They moved to Loburn in Canterbury where Trumic continued to ‘potter away’ in his studio until his passing in 2012, aged 84.

Michael Trumic assisting in the building of a kiln, 1990. (MS-5122/057)

Trumic’s ceramics can be found in various galleries and museums around New Zealand including the Otago Museum and Canterbury Museum


Achievements of Trumic

  • Foundational member of the New Zealand Society of Potters
  • Foundational member of the New Zealand Professional Potters Guild
  • Early member of the Canterbury Society of Arts
  • Full member of “The Group”
  • Recipient of three Queen Elizabeth II Art Council Grants

[1] Moyra Elliot, “Michael Trumic 1928-2012,” Cone Ten and Descending…, last modified 13 April 2012, https://conetenanddescending.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/michael-trumic-1928-2012/

[2]Rosa Shiels, “Clay and Fire,” New Zealand Potters, retrieved 30 May 2012, http://www.nzpotters.come/FeatureArticles/MichaelTrumic.cfm?article=MichaelTrumic

[3] Brief C.V of Michael Trumic, n.d., MS-5122/078, Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin.

[4] Rosa Shiels, “Clay and Fire,” New Zealand Potters, retrieved 30 May 2012, http://www.nzpotters.come/FeatureArticles/MichaelTrumic.cfm?article=MichaelTrumic

[5] Rosa Shiels, “Clay and Fire,” New Zealand Potters, retrieved 30 May 2012, http://www.nzpotters.come/FeatureArticles/MichaelTrumic.cfm?article=MichaelTrumic

[6] Brief C.V of Michael Trumic, n.d., MS-5122/078, Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin.

[7] Brief C.V of Michael Trumic, n.d., MS-5122/078, Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin.

[8] Rosa Shiels, “Clay and Fire,” New Zealand Potters, retrieved 30 May 2012, http://www.nzpotters.come/FeatureArticles/MichaelTrumic.cfm?article=MichaelTrumic

References:

Elliot, Moyra. “Michael Trumic 1928-2012.” Cone Ten and Descending…. Last modified 13 April 2012. https://conetenanddescending.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/michael-trumic-1928-2012/

Shiels, Rosa. “Clay and Fire.” New Zealand Potters. Retrieved 13 April 2012. http://www.nzpotters.come/FeatureArticles/MichaelTrumic.cfm?article=MichaelTrumic

Trumic, Michael. Brief C.V. MS-5122/078. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin.

The women of the D.I.C. – Part one: The knit & purl girls

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post researched and written by HUMS intern, Ceri Spivey

Amongst the business records held here at the Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, are those from the eminent local and national department store chain, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand (lovingly known as the D.I.C.). Established in 1884 by prominent businessman Bendix Hallenstein as a ‘wholesale family warehouse’, the D.I.C. quickly flourished with multiple locations nationwide, until the business eventually closed its doors in 1991, after over a hundred years of successful trading. While much has been written about the store’s revolutionary retail practices, economic successes and male leadership, little attention has been paid to women’s involvement. These hundreds of women worked the shop floor, ran departments, hired staff, dominated shareholding, and breathed life into the company from the moment its doors opened.

A Guy Morris photo of the Dunedin D.I.C. staff, pre-WWI. MS-5063/060, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Department stores revolutionised women’s lives at the turn of the twentieth century beyond retail alone, being female designated and dominated spaces. Women would shop aided by other women for household goods, intimate apparel, clothing and more, in a progressive female-orientated environment. Our own D.I.C. was one such example, having female facilities and toilet amenities, an important shift in the Victorian era, as public toilets were not available to the women of Dunedin until 1910[i]. Alongside amenities, the female staff of the D.I.C. were an integral part of the department store from the outset, becoming well-known personalities, celebrated, and showcased, as early advertisements highlight.

‘Our Miss Button’ advertisement, Otago Witness, 19 October 1910, p.5. [image from microfilm]

D.I.C. company picnic running race, c.1900. MS-5063/012/002, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

As imagery found in the D.I.C. archives illustrates, staff social activities were tied to the store, with women participating in company sports events, picnic races and clubs, alongside philanthropic groups like the D.I.C. Girls’ Patriotic Club. The staff of the D.I.C., like thousands of women nationwide, heeded the call of Lady Annette Louise Foljambe Liverpool, wife of New Zealand’s Governor-General, for the women of New Zealand to band together to provide care parcels packed with ‘necessaries’ for soldiers serving in the Great War.

D.I.C. Girls’ Patriotic Club postcard, 1917. MS-5063/023, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Headed by crockery manager and buyer Miss Frances Alice Button, over seventy ‘girls’ under the age of twenty from the D.I.C. became members, meeting regularly in the nearby Savoy Lounge. Using Lady Liverpool’s Her Excellency’s Knitting Book as a guide, held within our publications collection, the women of the D.I.C. would parcel necessaries- cigarettes, letters, and knitting, for brothers, colleagues, and troops at home and abroad.

Her Excellency’s knitting book (1915), by Annette Foljambe, Countess of Liverpool. Ferguson and Osborn Printers, Wellington. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Miss Button was unable to attend the club’s December 1917 meeting due to a severe illness. Poignantly, a letter was read on her behalf: “Although the sadness of this great war was responsible for the formation of our club, its outcome has been a mutual understanding and comradeship”.[ii] After a long and fruitful career at the D.I.C. (which we will cover in the next blog post on the women of the D.I.C.), Miss Frances Alice Button succumbed to her illness on the 18th of June 1918. The knit and purl girls of the D.I.C. continued their good works, headed by the talented dressmaker Miss E. Lawrence, until the end of World War One.

Frances Alice’s words were ringing true for thousands of New Zealand women, who took up their knitting needles to comfort their loved ones ravaged by war, but gained friendship, autonomy, and much more.

References

[i] St Clair, as a popular seaside destination, saw the first public toilet for women built in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1910 that the central city had “underground conveniences” for women. See Alison Breese’s digital thesis below for more information on the fascinating history of Dunedin’s public toilets: https://scalar.usc.edu/works/conveniences/chapter-one-public-conveniences-and-the-rise-of-undergrounds

[ii] Evening Star, 15 December 1917, Page 4

 

Octavius Harwood – a real “Wellerman”

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 | Anna Blackman | 5 Comments

Currently there is world-wide interest in the song “Soon May The Wellerman Come”. Social media is simply heaving with shanty mania. There is of course a Dunedin connection and a recent article in the Otago Daily Times explains the history of the Weller Brothers shore whaling station at Ōtākou and a little bit of background on the origin of the song. https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/wellerman-sea-shanty-global-hit

The song includes the line “And bring us sugar and tea and rum,” referring to essential treats distributed regularly to the whaling gangs employed by the Weller Brothers. This reminded me I had seen many references to sugar, tea and rum in of one of our most significant archival collections – the Octavius Harwood papers.

The Harwood papers are probably the best collection of archives still extant from a shore whaling station in New Zealand. Octavius Harwood was employed late in 1837 to run the store and oversee some of the station’s activities and he kept extensive records that were preserved by later generations of his family and eventually came to the Hocken in the 1930s with the papers of George Craig Thomson.

Octavius Harwood’s journals describe what life was like for those working in the 1830s whaling industry around Ōtākou and the Otago coastline. With our help from current HUMS 201 intern, Caitlyn Duff, I have transcribed and edited an extract from the start of Harwood’s 1838 journal.

To make the extract more readable I expanded abbreviations and corrected spelling to modern spelling and removed some capitals. I also used square brackets to annotate some terms and names in the text.

The close relationship of Māori and European working together in the settlement of Ōtākou is clear in the journal with regular reference to the work Māori did at the station and in the whale fisheries. Many whalers, including Harwood and his employer Edward Weller married local women and an extensive network of whānau was created along the Otago coast.

Harwood’s original journal commencing in 1838, MS-0438/001 Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena

The original journal is hand sewn, probably by Harwood himself and bears the stains and scuffs of a hard life at the store. It is made of Downton Mill paper water marked 1834.

Harwood supplied provisions to the whaling gangs, who visited Ōtākou to pick up their supplies. The gangs picked up two or so weeks’ worth of supplies and dropped off the prepared oil and bone. On one occasion in this extract Taiaroa and Karetai delivered some supplies from Harwood’s store to the nearby Pūrākaunui whaling station.

The supplies almost always consisted of sugar, tea, grog (a rum and water mix), tobacco, flour and sometimes casks of salted beef or pork.  Whaling gear – rope, tools, casks or shooks (supplies for barrel making) and slops (cheap cotton canvas clothing) were also often supplied. Occasionally spirits were supplied to the whaling gang leaders. There seemed to be little fresh food distributed, perhaps the gangs supplemented their diet by trading locally, fishing, hunting and gathering.

The ship Dublin Packet was at Ōtākou at the time and Harwood spent much time unloading supplies and loading oil and bone on the ship. He also supplied a visiting French whaling ship.

Harwood supervised the cooper (barrel maker) at Ōtākou, and a team of usually six Māori who cleaned whalebone, and did other work such as building repairs, road repairs and fencing. He sometimes pickled pork in barrels and purchased potatoes from Māori.

He also issued provisions for “the House” – presumably the house where Edward Weller lived. Weller’s activities are mentioned occasionally. Edward eventually returned to live in Sydney when the business failed and further archival records of the Weller Brothers business are held at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, where they have been digitised and are available online. http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110364025?_ga=2.66028653.2102099567.1611630649-263552842.1611630649

 

THE JOURNAL

1838

April 24th. – Received from the Dublin Packet a quantity of rope – Whale line – Grass rope – flour in casks – Boat planks – Chests tea – Cans oil – Iron pots – Tin plates – Rag stones – Adze. Mincing knives – Cases Soap – Tubs – Paint brushes. Issued whaling gear to Mr. Brown – Mr. Prices – and Mr. Williams, Mr. Chaceland – and also provisions for 1 week to Mr. Chaceland’s gang – Employed six hands regulating provisions in store &c. Broached cask flour.

Wed. – 25th.  – Employed issuing provisions to gangs – storing cargo – stowing away slops in casks, &c. – the six hands still employed.

Thurs. – 26th. – Issued whaling gear to Angas, Williams, Hedges, Chaceland & Brown – victualled 14 Māoris belonging to Mr. Chaceland and Price’s gangs for 1 week. Served out grog to same gangs – Received a quantity of flour, sugar &c. from Dublin Packet – Stored the same – Broached cask flour & beef.

Frid. – 27th. – Employed issuing stores to Tonguers [the workers who cut up the whales] – receiving and stowing away in the stores cargo from the Dublin Packet – gave Williams tea for Headsmen for Upper Fishery for 1 week.

Sat. – 28th. – Gave Black and Tandy carpenters rum for 1 week.  G. Ryan, Cooper, Tea for a fortnight – Chaceland’s gang day’s grog – Boat gear to hedges, Angas and Chaceland – 2 hands employed rolling cargo from Dublin Packet into store, &c.

Sun. – 29th. – Gave Mr. Price 17 fathoms rope for Middle Fishery – Mr. Chaceland tobacco – Mr. Cureton 1 breaker of oil & 1 axe for Middle Fishery. Mr. Angas 2¼ yds of duck fisher, Muckleroy & Davis one lot grog each. Mr. Price received 2 days allowance grog for his gang – 1 Māori employed cleaning bone.

Mon. – 30th. – Mr Chaceland, Mr Williams drew whaling gear from store. Issued 1 week’s provisions to Mr. Cureton & Abbot received 16 casks flour from Dublin Packet 2 labourers employed Fisher and Davis. Mr Price drew 2 days’ grog 2 for his gang.

Tues. – May 1st. – Issued Provisions to Mr. Chaceland’s Gang and to Mr. Cureton’s Boat Crew of 5 Hands – Employed filling pork casks with fresh pickle, stowing flour in store, and serving out slops to Manuel – Black etc – Broached cask beef.

May 2nd. – Served out provisions to Mr. Price’s Gang of 25 White People and 7 Māoris for 1 week – slops to Davis and Hewit, Brown & O’Donnel – Provisions to Roberts. Received a quantity of whale bone from the Tonguers of Middle Fishery – filled up pork cask with pickle – gave Māoris their tobacco at the Middle Fishery for 2 weeks – to Mr. Chaceland’s Māori 1 week’s tobacco – Broached 1 keg & 1 Hhd [Hogshead?] of flour 1 tierce [a tierce of pork was around 136 kg of pickled pork] pork – Shipped 6 casks oil.

Thurs. – 3rd – Issued provisions to 7 Māoris in Mr. Chaceland’s gang for 5 days – & 2 bone cleaners – also 2 week’s tobacco – Employed drawing off liquor – putting slops in casks – setting stove &c. Shipped 6 casks oil.

Fri. – 4th – Issued provisions to Isaac – for 1 Week – 1 piece pork for House – finished setting stove, made Carey and Russel’s accounts out. 3 bone cleaners employed.

Sat. – 5th. – Issued Slops to Manuel & Russel, and provisions to house – Grog to Upper Fishery etc & 3 bone cleaners.

Sun. – 6th. – Received 1 head of bone from Upper Tonguers. Issued slops &c. – dined on board the Dublin Packet. – Grog to upper gang and three bone cleaners.

Mon. – 7th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Cooper at day’s work. Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang and bone cleaners – Gave slops to 4 of bone cleaners. – Provisions to House – Settled John Carey’s account – 3 glasses grog to Mucleroy, Davis, Fisher and Isaac each.

Tues. – 8th. – Issued provisions to Price & Chaceland’s gang – to 22 Māoris – Coe at his own work, stowed cleaned bone in store. Shipped 4 casks oil – Slops to Fowler – Broached 2 casks flour 1 cask pork – Provisions to House – Geo. Gray’s grog stopped by order of Chaceland, carpenter’s by Doctor – Cooper headed up cured fish.

Wed. – 9th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Grog to Do [ditto] and Chaceland’s gang. Issued provisions to coopers and carpenters and 1 piece beef to House. Shipped oil on board schooner Dublin Packet. Blacked tanks and rolled 1 up into yard to keep bone in. Broached cask beef.

Thurs. 10th. – 7 bone cleaners employed. Issued grog to them and Chaceland’s gang. Provisions to House – Employed regulating accounts, &c.

Fri. 11th. – Issued provisions to Mucleroy and Isaac – House 1 piece pork – Black, Ryan and Tandy tea for 1 Week – Slops to two Māoris – Tobacco to people. Making people’s bills out. 6 bone cleaners employed – Geo. Smith’s grog stopped by order of Doctor. Stowed cleaned bone in loft – Mr Philippin one steer oar.

Sat. – Gave Mr. Williams tea for four for 1 Week – Grog to Chaceland’s gang. – 6 bone cleaners employed – finished cleaning bone – Tyro [Taiaroa] – Grog from this date.

Sun. – 13th. – 7 Māoris employed repairing fences – brought spare boat from fishery to be repaired – 14 lbs. flour for House, 1 lb. tea 2 pieces pork – 1 keg to Mr. Price.

Mon. – 14th. – 5 Māoris employed repairing shed for cooper – Employed making out people’s bills – issuing provisions &c. – Sent two casks peas, two casks flour aboard the French vessel “La Fawn” [“Faune” a French whaling ship that called in twice to Ōtākou in 1838] in exchange for rope, &c.

Tues. – 15th. – Issued provisions to 35 hands in Mr. Price’s Gang, to 28 people in Mr. Chaceland’s gang – to 6 Māoris bone cleaners – Provisions to Davis and Fisher – Slops to people – received four casks beef from the French vessel “La Fawn” – Māoris as yesterday – Gave Captain Bruce 20 lbs rivets – Whaling gear to Price, Hedges, Angas and Williams.

Wed. – 16th. – Provisions to carpenters and cooper – Grog to Chaceland’s gang & Māori bone cleaners – 6 – Employed drawing of spirits – 20 gallons – regulating store, &c. – returned the four casks beef received yesterday from on board “La Fawn” – and got in lieu 3 casks pork.

Thurs. – 17th. – Employed repairing fences – Cleaning bone 6 Māoris – Gave Captain Wells 4½ bundles hooping. Settled Mr. J. Russel’s account in slops – issued provisions to House – Grog to gang – Māori and coopers – Cooper made 2 Piggin, 1 Buckey, 1 Keg.

Fri. – 18th. 6 Māoris employed making a fence between the beach and Cooper’s Workshop with the Whales Head Bones – Making foxes to tie up bone with – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang – coopers, carpenters and Māoris. Drew off twenty two gallons spirits for Captain Wells.

Sat. – 19th. 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – issued provisions to House – Mr. Weller shooting on the other shore with Captain Wells – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang, Māoris, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Williams 1 pulling oar.

Sun. – 20th. – 6 Māoris employed fetching wood for fence, bringing bones from Upper Fishery, &c. – Gave the Captain Of “La Fawn” 25 pounds of 30 hundred hooping to repair his rudder. Issued provisions to House – dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 21st. – Māoris as yesterday – Issued provisions to House – Grog to Chaceland’s gang, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Received ½ head bone from Upper Tonguers.

Tues. – 22nd. – Issues Provisions to Middle and Upper Gangs – Do. To 6 Māori bone cleaners – Received the other half head bone from Upper Tonguers – vice from French vessel – Māoris employed removing sand bank abrest carpenter’s House.

Wed. – 23rd. – Provisions issued to cooper and carpenters – to Mr Brown for Pūrākaunui &c. – 4 Māoris employed cleaning bone and received 30 bundles of shooks from the Dublin Packet – 2 Māoris left without permission.

Thurs. – 24th – Provisions to House. 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – repairing road – fetching water &c. Issued slops to Chaceland – 1 Māori not returned – Drew off ten gallons spirits.

Fri. – 25th – Provisions to House. Issued slops etc to Mr Phillipine – Māoris employed making spun yarn for bone, bring bone from the Upper Fishery – to repair fence &c. – The Māori returned to his duty.

Sat. – 26th. – Provisions to House. 6 Māoris employed repairing cooper’s house, making fence, bring earth to repair road etc. – Mr Chaceland lost 40 fathom Whale Line & iron – Steward of Dublin Packet repairing the bellows – Killed a pig.

Sun. – 27th. – Sent three Māoris back to Mr Brown who had run away from Pūrākaunui – Māoris employed fetching grass for cooper’s house and fence – grog to gang, &c.

Mon. – 28th. – Issued slops to Davis & Fisher – Drew off 30 gallons spirits for Mr Brown – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – set the bellows up.

Tues. – 29th. – Issued provisions to Price’s & Chaceland’s Gangs – to 6 Māori labourers – Māoris employed cleaning up bone – Quin once of Mr Price’s gang fell from a cliff and killed himself.

Wed. – 30th. – Issued provisions to Black, Tandy and Ryan – to Mr Brown 240 lbs sugar 30 gallons rum 6 pounds tea & 100 figs of tobacco – to Māori cook of Big House – 6 natives employed cleaning bone, repairing cooper’s house, building fence &c. Buried Quin in the ground behind Carpenter’s Workshop.

Thurs. – 31st – Had the honour of being threatened by Mr Angas that he would smash my bloody head – cautioned him against so doing – and told him if he did not succeed I should not make a light business of it – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – sent provisions from Dublin Packet to Pūrākaunui – Grog to gangs, &c.

Fri. June 1st. – 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling provisions to beach for Tyro [local Chief Taiaroa] to take to Pūrākaunui, but did not go – scraping boat – finishing making fence by Cooper’s house – received 400 blades bone from Pūrākaunui by Tyro and Jackey White [local Chief Karetai] – as also a receipt from Mr Brown for having received 14 casks provisions – issued 30 lbs sugar to Dublin Packet.

Sat. – 2nd – 6 Māoris employed repairing chimney of cooper’s house, cleaning bone, scraping boat &c. Issued provisions to 1 Māori for Mr Cureton’s boat – clothes etc. – Mr A and – C. tea. Stopped Māori’s grog for not coming earlier in the morning.

Sun. –  3rd – 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – Issued provisions to House – Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges. Slops to Fowler and Chaceland – Mr Weller out shooting and dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 4th – Issued slops &c. to Mr Manuel & provisions to house. Māoris employed as yesterday.

Tues. – 5th Issued provisions to Price’s and Chaceland’s gang – To 6 Māoris – Bone cleaners. Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling water up from and bringing lie [lye?] from tryworks – issued whaling gear to Chaceland – provisions to David and Fisher, and Mucleroy and Isaac Porter.

Wed. – 6th. – Issued provisions to cooper and carpenters – whaling gear to Mr Cureton, 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone.

Thurs. – 7th. – Māoris employed cleaning bone – sent three Māoris away in boat to Hobart town fishery with Lowe to bring up plank for to make a trough for lie [lye] – to clean bone in. Engaged a cooper of the name – John Clarke – to make casks at the rate of 20/- per ton on labour at the rate of £6 per month.

Fri. – 8th. – Māoris employed as yesterday – issued whaling gear to Mr Manuel Goombs and tobacco to himself and boat’s crew – also 1 lb of tea to Mr Brind – received 2 kegs 1 line tub and 1 old repaired piggin from cooper.

Sat. – 9th – Māoris employed clearing bone – shipped a Frenchman from the ship “La Fawn” of the name Victor Hobé  – Issued provisions to the same and to John Clarke (Cooper) Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges – Carpenter made trough for bone – Issued tobacco to Roberts – Williams, &c.

In preparing this blog I consulted the following sources on Harwood family history, the Wellers, Ōtākou and whaling:

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/octavius-harwood

https://ngataonga.org.nz/blog/nz-history/octavius-francis-harwood-a-journey-of-family-discovery/

https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w13/weller-edward

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/edward-weller

Church, Ian (ed), Gaining a Foothold : Historical Records of Otago’s Eastern Coast, 1770-1839, Friends of the Hocken Collections, 2008.

Church, Ian, Opening the Manifest on Otago’s Infant Years, Shipping Arrivals and Departures Otago Harbour and Coarst 1770-1860, Otago Heritage Books 2001

Harwood, Mac, Octavius Harwood, Titopu, Piro, Janet Robertson, published by Mac Harwood, Upper Takaka, 1989.

King, Alexandra, The Weller’s whaling station : the social and economic formation of an Otakou community, 1817-1850. https://ourarchive.otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/5533F

Tod, Frank, Whaling in Southern Waters, published by Frank Tod1982

West, Jonathon, The Face of Nature : An Environmental History of the Otago Peninsula, Otago University Press, 2017

Representations of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

AG-047-7/004. Photograph of unnamed performers. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Post researched and written by HUMS 301 intern Kayli Taylor.

How power (im)balances mean minorities are not adequately represented, including in archives.

Gordon Spittle’s Beat Groups and courtyard parties provides a broad snapshot of the underground culture of the Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene in the 1960s. The book offers a raw depiction of collectives of artists, musicians and performers who set the stage for the city’s emerging Dunedin sound. The book also contains a distinct lack of representation of women. Therefore, one might be forgiven for thinking that there were no women performing in the 1960s. An in-depth analysis of the Hocken archives, as I did for my HUMS301 internship, tells another story. Women did perform but were simply represented less than men. This has implications for how historians and archivists discuss women in the Dunedin music scene, and how we can do research to understand their lives and experiences.

The research I undertook at Hocken was broad, looking at publications and archives. In particular, the archival material on the Otago University Folk Music Club AG-047/7 provided different representation of women. Publications such as student magazine Critic, the Otago Daily Times and Playdate also provided interesting points of analysis.

In the 1960s, folk music expanded across Ōtepoti Dunedin and the world.[1] A key aspect of folk music was the role of women.[2] Through the archival records of the Otago University Folk Music Club, we can see that women played a key role in the organisational management of the group. This includes Diane Baird, Wendy Clark, Catherine Monthieth, Di Looney, Liz Somerville, Lyn Jeffcoate, and Bronwyn Patterson. Women also performed in concerts organised by and connected with the group, including Di Looney, Val Murphy, Lea Stevens, Christine Smith, Brownyn Patterson and Ann Wigston.

An article published in student magazine Critic in 1961 recognised this phenomenon, saying there was a shift to women performing in concerts on the basis that if women are good enough to perform behind the scenes, they are deserving of performing.[3]

The representation of women in the music scene in Dunedin in the media is also of interest to our analysis of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s. Critic, for example, includes discussion of women and their role in the Dunedin music scene. In particular, Critic shows that folk music has quite extensive representation of women. Women, such as Diane Baird and Juliet Scott, also wrote for Critic about music – showing another way that women could speak into the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s.

AG-047-7/001. Photograph of unnamed performer. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Expanding to look at women musicians across Aotearoa New Zealand, we can see that women both performed – and were represented. Musicians such as Sandy Edmonds, Dinah Lee, Maria Dallas and Kiri Te Kanawa were regularly represented in Playdate. The way they were represented is still of note, however. They were often used in advertising, such as for hair product Napro. These products were advertised by Dinah Lee (seven times), Anne Murphy (one time) and Sandy Edmonds (nine times).

Analysing the representation of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s shows common threads of the representation of minorities. David Thomas’s Silence in the Archive argues that archives are not neutral or natural, but hold particular stories and reinforce particular discourses.[4] He argues that though archives should be beacons of light to the stories of history, that is not always the case.[5] We can see this playing out in the lack of representation of women in the Dunedin music scene.

The Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene has an interesting history of its presence and representation of women. The 1960s, in particular, was a key point of flux and transition. Women played an increasingly role in the music scene but were rarely recognised in the media of the day. For historians, this poses a challenge to how they perceive and understand women and their involvement. Thomas argues that as historians seek stories of minorities, there is not always the archival material to assist their research.[6]

AG-047-7/003. Photograph of unnamed performers. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

While I found some representation of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s, I believe there were more women performing than the archive represents. David Thomas argued that archives silence some stories, and I believe this is the case in this instance. This encourages us – as historians and people – to act more consciously to find and represent the stories of women and minorities in the archives, and to make space for their stories in our everyday lives.

Dunbar, Julie C. Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction. Second Edition. ed. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Thomas, David, Simon Fowler, and Valerie Johnson. The Silence of the Archive. London: Facet Publishing, 2017.

[1] Julie C. Dunbar, Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction, Second Edition. ed. (New York: Routledge, 2016), 364.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “More Women Take An Active Part in Concert”, Critic, 4 May 1961, 8.

[4] David Thomas, Simon Fowler, and Valerie Johnson, The Silence of the Archive (London: Facet Publishing, 2017), 1.

[5] Ibid., 22.

[6] Ibid., 17.

Letters of antifascist and biochemist Marianne Angermann to her parents published

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

On this blog we last met Marianne Bielschowsky (nee Angermann) as the author of a delicious cake recipe in this post by Ali Clarke.

On the day that the cake was made and served to Hocken staff I was unfortunately a little late to morning tea and missed out, all I could do was scrape some of the scrummy custard butter cream filling from the plate!

So today it is especially sweet to say I’m delighted that thanks to the efforts of our colleagues in the Languages and Cultures Programme that some of Marianne’s letters to her parents are now easily available online for researchers to access and that more will be available soon in subsequent issues of the journal.

The letters have been transcribed from old German script (Deutsche Schrift or Kurrentschrift) to modern script and then translated from German to English. The first tranche of the letters are published in issue 29 of the open journal Otago German Studies.

At least these transcriptions and translations will last longer than the cake!

The work has been completed by Dr Peter Barton in collaboration with Dr August Obermayer.

The story of Marianne and her husband Franz Bielschowsky’s lives as biochemical and cancer researchers parallels the upheavals and difficulties of the early 20th century Europe.

A detailed biographical introduction and detailed annotations have been provided with the translations to provide historical context. Briefly Marianne was born and trained as a biochemist in Germany at a time when it was unusual for women to study science at University. After graduating she worked in Germany, and then traveled to Spain in early 1936.  There she was reunited with her soon to be husband Franz Bielschowsky who had left Germany in 1933 as persecution of Jewish people escalated. Franz and Marianne had positions at the University of Madrid but were soon caught up in the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War. After three years they left Spain for Sheffield in England, and in 1948 came to Dunedin where Franz had been appointed Director of Cancer Research.

 

Secret business: Cablegram codes

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Ali Clarke, Archives Collections Assistant.

The installation of a submarine cable between Wakapuaka (near Nelson) and New South Wales in 1876 brought a new world of communication to New Zealand. People had already been able to send telegraph messages for a few years within the country. The first telegraph line appeared in 1862, linking Lyttelton and Christchurch, and in 1866 a cable went in under Cook Strait, linking the South and North Islands. Auckland was connected to points south by 1872. Once the new line to Australia opened, New Zealanders could send cablegrams around the world across an extensive network of overland wires and undersea cables.

Specimen messages from Bentley’s Complete Phrase Code, 7th reprint of 1st edition (London: E.L. Bentley, 1921). From Briscoe & Co Ltd archives, MS-3300/117

This new form of communication was taken up with alacrity by government, news agencies and business. Meteorology services were important early users which had promoted the installation of the trans-Tasman cable – the cabling of weather data enabled more accurate weather forecasts. International news arrived in New Zealand more promptly. Before 1876 it had been cabled to Australia, then sent on to New Zealand by ship. For businesses involved in imports and exports, and the many with head offices or branches in other countries, the new speedy communication improved efficiency.

The route taken by a cablegram from London to Auckland, from Clutha Leader, 9 March 1876. Courtesy of Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

There were a couple of drawbacks to the use of cablegrams. First, they were expensive – the initial cost of a cable to Britain was 15 shillings per word (equivalent to about $120 in today’s money), though the price came down over time. Second, there were issues with confidentiality. Messages were seen by telegraph operators at both sending and receiving ends, as they translated the words and numbers into the dots and dashes of Morse code. Worse, messages might be intercepted en route: for instance, during the US Civil War of the 1860s, both Union and Confederate sides tapped each other’s telegraph messages.

People soon developed various encryption methods, which helped overcome both these disadvantages. Phrases could be made into a single word, making messages shorter and cheaper. Coding systems also made messages more secure. I became interested in these codes while working with some of the business archives at the Hocken – several of these include code books.

A generic code book such as Bentley’s Complete Phrase Code could be used for phrases or entire messages that weren’t highly sensitive. First published in London in 1907, Bentley’s converted phrases or individual words into 5-letter codes. Two of the 5-letter codes could then be combined into 10-letter ‘words’ to reduce the total words and make the message even cheaper to send. For example, the message “Market dull with downward tendency. Political complications disturbing business” could be sent with two ‘words’: jykacofklo enzdebienc. We hold a 1921 copy in the archives of Briscoe & Co Ltd. Another similar system was Kendall’s Verbatim and Phrase Code. We hold a copy of this in the archives of NMA Co of NZ Ltd.

Part of the introduction to Kendall’s Phrase and Verbatim Code (1921). From the archives of NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd, MS-4856/126.

Codes like Bentley’s and Kendall’s used letter combinations that looked like gobbledegook, but others used real words. Their code books had alphabetical lists of words, matched to the terms to be coded. We have several examples of these in our archives and published collections – they are all codes specifically designed for particular businesses. Businesses developed private codes to replace or supplement the published code systems, in order to increase relevance and confidentiality. Examples of those using real words are Dunedin sharebrokers’ Sievwright Bros codes relating to investment and mining stocks, the New Zealand Railways code for messages between railway offices; and Shaw, Savill & Albion Co’s private telegraphic code for its shipping business.

From Sievwright Bros. & Co. Stock and Sharebrokers, Dunedin, Telegraphic Code for Investment & Mining Stocks (Dunedin: Mills, Dick & Co, c.1905).

Because the private codes were specific to a particular business, they were able to include long phrases in just one word. For example, in Shaw, Savill & Albion’s code, ‘pained’ translated as ‘At what price can you purchase Live Cattle of prime quality, suitable for freezing?’. In railway code, ‘briar’ stood for ‘Two-berth cabin for man and wife; if not available, reserve two seats together in first-class non-smoker. Will not accept berths in separate cabins.’ At Sievwright Bros, ‘ace’ meant ‘Buy for me when you think the market has bottomed’.

Codes for vessels’ destinations in Shaw, Savill & Albion Company, Limited, Private Telegraphic Code – No. 2. (London, 1890), from NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd records, MS-4856/124.

Some businesses went further with their private codes, so a single letter meant something. Their messages had a fixed format. A good example is the Dunedin importing company F. Meredith and Co. Ltd, which had individual codes for many different overseas firms. The illustrations below show the code they used for communicating with Messrs Vishram Khimji,  Bombay. A lot of information could thus be conveyed with just one ‘word’. Note that they mixed this private code with one of the standard codes for messaging prices.

The private code used between importers F. Meredith & Co Ltd, Dunedin and exporter Messrs Vishram Khimji, Bombay. From F. Meredith & Co Ltd records, AG-265-13/002.

Page 2 private code used between importers F. Meredith & Co Ltd, Dunedin and exporter Messrs Vishram Khimji, Bombay. From F. Meredith & Co Ltd records, AG-265-13/002.

Another feature was the ‘condensor’, which converted 13 numbers, each with a specific meaning according to a private code, into 10 letters, or one cablegram ‘word’. Again, there are some good examples of this in the F. Meredith and Co. archives.

Of course secret codes could be useful for dubious as well as legal business, and reports appeared from time to time in local newspapers about discoveries of these, from Russian railway thieves with insiders informing them of valuable consignments with a special telegraphic code[1] (1909) to international drug dealers operating out of Shanghai with their own code[2] (1925). In 1912 a court case revealed that English suffragettes had their own telegraphic code where cabinet ministers and others were coded as trees and plants, and protest plans as birds.[3]

Whatever code was used, care needed to be taken to get it correct. Mistakes could be disastrous. In 1926 an unnamed New Zealand firm ordered from Calcutta 5000 bales of 50 woolpacks, when they intended to order 5000 woolpacks. They ended up with 50 years worth of supply, and other businesses had difficulty getting freight space from Asia because of the ‘exceptional cargo of woolpacks’.[4]

Thanks to Fletcher Trust Archives for permission to share items from the archives of NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd held in the Hocken Collections.

Notes

[1] Wairarapa Age, 21 July 1909.

[2] Waikato Times, 29 June 1925.

[3] Clutha Leader, 3 May 1912.

[4] Press, 5 July 1926.

References

Edward H. Freeman, ‘The telegraph and personal privacy: a historical and legal perspective’, EDP Audit, Control and Security Newsletter, 46: 6 (2012), 9-20.

A.C. Wilson, ‘Telecommunications – Early telegraphy and telegrams’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2010. https://teara.govt.nz/en/telecommunications/page-1

A.C. Wilson Wire and Wireless: A history of telecommunications in New Zealand 1890-1987 (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1997).

National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

 

Stirring up the stacks #4 – a “delicious cake from better times”

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant, Archives

When we started this challenge of testing recipes we had found in the Hocken stacks, I immediately thought of the archives of scientists Franz and Marianne Bielschowsky, whose lives took several unexpected paths. Marianne’s recipe books – some handwritten, some full of clippings and some published – are mostly in German, so that added to the challenge! My German language skills are pretty basic, but with the help of a good dictionary and a fluent German speaker I was able to figure out the technical instructions in my chosen recipe.

The cover of Marianne Bielschowsky’s book, ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’ (an illustrated cook book), compiled c.1946, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

 My attention was grabbed by Marianne Bielschowsky’s handwritten heading “Leckere Kuchen aus besseren Zeiten!” for some printed recipes she pasted into one of her recipe clippings books. This translates as “Delicious cakes from better times!” That has a poignancy which reflects the times – the clippings book was probably compiled about 1946, when she was living in England. A cake like this, featuring butter, sugar and 6 eggs, would have been beyond the capacity of most people during rationing – when an adult’s weekly rations were 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar and 1 egg. No doubt this distinctly German recipe also served as a reminder of a happy childhood there.

Recipe for Frankfurter Kranz, pasted into ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

I’ve written about the Bielschowskys previously, in a post about the Spanish Civil War for the University of Otago 150 years history blog. Franz Bielschowsky (1902-1965), the son of a distinguished German neurologist, was dismissed from his position as a medical researcher in Dusseldorf early in 1933 because he was Jewish, and fled to Amsterdam. In 1934 he relocated to Madrid, where he became a lecturer in the medical faculty; in 1935 he was appointed director of the biochemistry department of the new Institute for Experimental Medicine at the Central University of Madrid.

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

Marianne Angermann (1904-1977), a German biochemist who had worked with Franz Bielschowsky in Dusseldorf, joined him at the Institute in Madrid late in 1935; they were to marry in 1937. Angermann was born in Dresden. She was not Jewish herself, and her family appears to have been in comfortable circumstances; her father was at one time the Burgermeister (Mayor) of a small town. She studied in Koln (Cologne), Bonn and Freiburg im Breisgau, where she obtained her PhD. Marianne described herself and her parents as ‘Antifaschisten’ – opposed to fascism.

Angermann and Bielschowsky refused offers to leave Spain when the civil war began there in 1936, but as the siege of Madrid lengthened, research became impossible. Franz joined the republican medical service and worked at a military hospital in Madrid. They fled Spain early in 1939, as Franco’s forces prepared to enter the capital. They were now refugees for a second time, and as war took over Europe they ended up in England. Both worked at the University of Sheffield until 1948, when they arrived in Otago, where Franz had been appointed director of the cancer research laboratory; Marianne worked alongside him. She was especially known for her development of various special strains of mice, used worldwide for medical research.

My first attempt at the cake was a hit with my family.

An English translation of Marianne Bielschowsky’s recipe:

Frankfurt Wreath

For the cake:

4 eggs

200g sugar

100g potato flour

100g wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 packet vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla essence)

Whip the egg whites until stiff (“like snow”). Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add to egg whites alternately with the sifted flours and baking powder to make a soft dough. Beat well. Bake for 1 hour in a greased and floured ring tin. When the wreath is cold, cut it through twice [making 3 layers]. Fill with the following cream, then spread cream over the outside and sprinkle with the almonds.

For the cream:

2 eggs

100g sugar

3 heaped tbsp flour

½ litre skimmed milk

125g butter

toasted chopped almonds

Mix the eggs, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the flour and milk together well [in a pot]. Heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it is cold. Mix the remaining sugar and softened butter together and stir into the custard mixture.

Hints

I couldn’t find potato flour in my usual supermarkets, but it is available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

No oven temperature is given – I found it took just 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C).

I made the cake twice. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the consistency of the cake in my first test run, so I changed the method a little on my second try. Instead of adding the yolks/sugar/vanilla to the egg whites, I slowly folded the whipped egg whites into the well beaten yolks/sugar/vanilla mixture, then added the flours/baking powder – this worked better and made a lovely light sponge.

The cream was more successful on my first attempt – it curdled slightly on my second go when I added the butter/sugar. I recommend making sure the butter/sugar mixture is really well creamed, and cold, before stirring it into the cold custard.

The secret to any custard is stirring to prevent lumps – I use a hand whisk to stir the entire time it is cooking. This recipe recommends stirring while it cools as well – I put the pot into a sink of cold water to speed that process.

I used whole almonds I had chopped into big chunks, then toasted in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes.

The second attempt disappeared quickly from the Hocken staffroom!

Results

This cake was a big hit with the tasters both times I made it! It isn’t strongly flavoured, but the contrast in textures between the fluffy cake, smooth cream and crunchy almonds is delicious, as many commented. There was universal approval from the Hocken staff: “those ‘better times’ must have been amazing”, suggested one. The delicious custard/nuts made it “quite different to most of my modern cake experiences”, wrote one reviewer, with others also noting its distinctly Germanic style. A warning – it’s messy to eat, as one reviewer pointed out!

I searched online for modern versions of this recipe – the English-language versions, such as this one translate the name as Frankfurt Crown Cake. They add jam to the filling between the layers, coat the almonds in caramel, and include cherries and other fancy decorations so the cake resembles a jewelled crown. They also use packets of vanilla pudding instead of making the custard from scratch! The older version I tried is less extravagant, but still delicious, and I encourage you to try it at home. We don’t know if Marianne Bielschowsky made this cake once she had settled in Dunedin, but in any case it has been a pleasure to make it as a tribute to her.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Louise Menzies: In an orange my mother was eating (16 February – 30 March 2019)

Monday, April 1st, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Nick Austin, a General Assistant at the Hocken. He was the 2012 Frances Hodgkins Fellow and presented the exhibition The Liquid Dossier (16 February – 13 April 2013) at the Hocken Gallery.

Sitting and reading. These verbs take on a vocational significance at the Hocken; users of our material are called ‘readers’, after all. Louise Menzies’ exhibition at the Hocken gallery, called In an orange my mother was eating turned aspects of her research activity, as the 2018 Frances Hodgkins Fellow, into a ‘family’ of related artworks. Some of these works are paper-based, and most have text in them. Every one, though, is a kind of ‘material meditation’ variously on artists and their legacies – and other items of ephemera – some of which she encountered over the twelve months she lived in Dunedin and read at the Hocken.

In the main gallery, a sky-blue shelf ran the full length of the longest wall. On its ledge,  24 individual sheets of paper, hand-made by Menzies. Adhered to each of these sheets is a risographed facsimile of one of two intimately related texts. One of these is a colouring-in book called The Lone Goose by the artist Joanna Margaret Paul (1945 – 2003). Published in 1979 by Dunedin-based McIndoe Press, it is an elliptical sort of story about the imagined friends of a goose waddling around our city’s Southern Cemetery. Paul complements her text with suitably – and wonderfully – provisional line drawings.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper Book pages: The Lone Goose by Joanna Margaret Paul, (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1979). With thanks to the Joanna Margaret Paul estate; Correspondence relating to The Lone Goose: MS-3187/058, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (installation view) 2019, Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

While researching Hocken’s holdings of Paul material (we have quite a lot[i]), Menzies mistakenly requested a manuscript from our archives stack. Serendipitously, it contained correspondence between various players on the subject of The Lone Goose’s distribution. This cache of letters is the second text in Menzies’ work. On one hand, representatives from McIndoe’s distributors, Reed, just do not ‘get’ Paul’s book: “I fear the reps are going to be laughed out of the shops if they try and sell it.” But in response, Brian Turner (yes, the poet) in his capacity as Paul’s editor, is clearly peeved: “… I guess we [at McIndoe] do not move in the real world, as your reps do, and can hide our embarrassment at being ‘arty’.” While the letters present a bleakly familiar story of an artwork’s failure to lift-off in the marketplace (that the book is not exactly an artwork, does not really matter here), Menzies’ work is not depressing – it represents a significant new generation of Paul admirers.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

It is easy to sense Paul’s importance to Menzies. (The title of the exhibition is a line from a Paul poem.) Both artists use language as a material to give form to thought. The way Paul’s work – her drawing, painting, film-making, writing – absorbs and reflects the places, people, things around her, is of high interest to Menzies. Paul was a Frances Hodgkins Fellow in 1983 so there is a kind of genealogical thread that connects them, too.

Frances Hodgkins. Given the reflexivity of this exhibition, it was sort of a no-brainer for Menzies to use Hodgkins (1869 – 1947) as a subject. It is surprising, though, how she did it. In one of the gallery’s side rooms sat three chairs: one a type you would see in halls and meeting rooms, dating from possibly the 1980s; one, a three-legged stool from about the 1960s; the other a contemporary type of adjustable office chair, with the brand name Studio on the rear of its back. This furniture shares the same provenance – all three were relocated from the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship studio, which is just across the road from the Hocken – and Menzies re-upholstered them in identical fabric.

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (installation view) 2018 Digital print on textile

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (detail) 2018 Digital print on textile

In the 1920s, Hodgkins was actively considering her return to NZ when, after years of struggle, she was offered a financial reprieve: a job in Manchester as a textile designer. While there are few extant examples of actual Hodgkins textiles (a silk handkerchief is held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery), several of her gouache sketches are held at Te Papa. Menzies has printed the chairs’ fabric with one of these (digitally adapted) designs. Her work is named after its source, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925. While the chairs serve as a memorial to the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship’s titular artist, they’re also a reminder of the stationary fact that every artist needs to make a buck somehow.[ii]

One thing that is different for an artist’s viability in the 21stCentury is the sheer number of residencies available to them. While the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago remains one of the most generous offered in NZ (12 months on a Lecturer’s salary; free studio), this country’s artists frequently travel the world to participate in residency programs. In 2014, Menzies was invited to do a residency and exhibition at the University of Connecticut Art Gallery. During her six-week visit, she worked with the Alternative Press Collection (one of the largest collections of its type in the USA) within the Thomas J. Dodd’s Research Center. Over a much longer period, a resultant publication gestated. In fact, Menzies used the first part of her Hodgkins Fellowship to complete it.

Image: (publication cover) design by Narrow Gauge, images courtesy of Allan Smith, George Watson, Alternative Press Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library.

Time to think like a mountain, the finished book, was a segue into a publication-project that marked Menzies’ time as the Hodgkins Fellow. Coinciding with her Hocken exhibition and the end of her residency, Menzies and designer Matthew Galloway produced a calendar with source material from the Hocken’s Ephemera Collection. Each of Menzies’ calendar’s pages features an image of a calendar page from a past year whose dates fell on the same days as the present month’s. In yet another reflexive nod, Menzies’ calendar runs from February 2019 to January 2020 (the chronology of months over which the Fellowship takes place)… but the elegance of the idea is better explained with images:

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

It is fascinating how Menzies rematerialised different sources from the Hocken Collections as art; how she used her Fellowship as a subject; how she shows that time is not linear.

A video work that shares its title with the exhibition’s the video has many, intriguingly related, parts: an image of Paul’s son, Pascal, sitting for the camera; a soundtrack of the Ornette Colman song, The Empty Foxhole, featuring his then-10-year old son on drums; intertitles that contain a transcript of the complete Paul poem from which the exhibition took its name; an anecdote involving Menzies’ daughter…

Louise Menzies In an orange my mother was eating (installation view) 2019 Digital video, 3 min 21 sec

All photography unless otherwise credited: Iain Frengley

[i] We have nearly five hundred Paul items, including her paintings, drawings and sketchbooks.

[ii] Or, as another expatriate NZ artist has put it, “The artist has to live like everybody else.”