Cataloguing Charles – interning at the Hocken

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post researched and written by Lakin Wilton, HUMS 301 Intern

I have had the fantastic opportunity of interning at the Hocken through the University of Otago’s Humanities Internship, which offers students the chance to be placed in an organisation in Dunedin and undertake a project in place of a paper. The internship counts towards your degree, which is absolutely fantastic and I strongly encourage any student of Humanities to sign up.

Charles Brasch, MS-0996-012/094/010

Before starting my internship, Charles Brasch was a name I had heard, but not a name I knew anything about. I started at the Hocken at the beginning of August, and though I have only spent a short time here, I feel as though Charles Brasch and I have become great friends.

My project was a continuation of the project started by last semester’s intern, which allowed me to jump right in and get started. I worked with the Charles Brasch Literary and Personal Papers Collection, cataloguing photographs that he donated to the Hocken when he died in 1973. The background to the collection and how it has been catalogued is interesting, and it is amazing how archives can evolve over time when new developments come about.

The photographs in this collection were originally repackaged and catalogued in 2003. While they were listed on the Hocken database, not all of them were able to be identified. Now, there are more resources available to help with identification, such as Charles’ published journals, which have comprehensive biographical notes on many of Charles’ friends, family, and people he met during his life. The power of Google is another useful tool that can be used to identify people and places.

Some of the photographs in the collection are used frequently for publication, which is one of the reasons why the curator of the collection decided to add more detail to the catalogue. Having a more detailed catalogue improves findability, which for such a vast collection is extremely helpful. For example, I found a photo of Charles with authors C.K. Stead and Janet Frame looking more relaxed than the commonly published version of the photo.

Charles Brasch, Carl Stead, and Janet Frame MS-0996-012/159/001

Further, some of the photographs are already digitised, and having a more detailed listing will allow online access to those photographs. There is also potential for the further digitisation of images.

In terms of my project. I quickly learnt that cataloguing is not a matter of simply entering data into a spreadsheet…

Charles Brasch was an avid photographer and was something of an archivist himself. Charles’s photographs span decades, and the collection consists not only of his personal photographs, but also of family photographs handed down to Charles. Cataloguing such a mammoth collection is no small task, but it is an enjoyable one.

I quickly found that the most frustrating aspect of cataloguing photographs in this collection was trying to figure out who the people in the photos were. Charles did not inscribe all of his photos; in fact, finding one with an inscription that I could actually read was a feat in itself!

Thankfully, Charles kept personal journals, which the Hocken also has in its Collections, and some of these have been transcribed and published by the Otago University Press.  These have been essential in my quest to put names to faces. Charles was very detailed in his journal entries, and it was rare that I could not name someone. However, when I couldn’t name someone it was quite frustrating! On one particular occasion there was a woman who I could not identify, but later in my cataloguing journey she showed up again and Charles had inscribed that later photo so I could go back and name her in the photos I had previously seen. Being able to do so was extremely satisfying.

The woman who was hard to identify was Aunt Loulu (Louisa Hart, Charles’ Great Aunt). MS-0996-012/175/002

Tangible photographs are something we sadly rarely see anymore, so working with ‘proper’ photographs has been fantastic. Charles travelled often, and documented both the big and the small things. For someone such as myself, who has never travelled either the South Island nor ventured over the Pacific, these photographs allowed me to travel alongside Charles, and see things as he saw them.

I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with the Charles Brasch photographs. Having never done any archiving before, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world, and I am genuinely amazed at how much work goes into archiving. I have a whole new appreciation for archives, and I strongly encourage everyone to utilise them where they can. I am extremely grateful to both the University of Otago and the Hocken Library for allowing me to work with such an amazing collection.

Inscription on UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

We are delighted to announce that the papers of Charles Brasch have been inscribed on the New Zealand Memory of the World Register.

At a national function at the Hocken on Thursday (November 28), the Charles Brasch papers were announced as a significant new addition to the UNESCO register, along with the Sir Edmund Hillary Archive at Auckland Museum and the original score and lyrics of God Defend New Zealand held at Auckland Libraries.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme, which promotes the nation’s heritage stories to the wider community, in 1992. It sits alongside UNESCO’s better-known World Heritage List and Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The New Zealand Programme was established in 2010.

“The Memory of the World Trust is truly delighted to welcome these three inscriptions of such distinguished documentary heritage items onto the register. All three greatly contribute to the story of our nation’s heritage and are significant to the identity of New Zealanders today,” the Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill says.

Professor of History Tony Ballantyne, UNESCO Senior Advisor Susan Isaacs, Auckland Museum Team Leader - Library Collections Theresa Graham, Chair of NZ Memory of the World Committee, Dianne MacCaskill, Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell and Auckland Public Libraries Manuscript Librarian Iain Sharpe

Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell says the Inscription of the Brasch papers onto the Register is also recognition of the national importance of the Hocken as a research archive.

“This is a huge advantage for University staff and students to have a resource like the Charles Brasch papers in their midst. As well as conferring a higher level of protection on this archive resource, this inscription from UNESCO also enhances the Hocken’s international profile,” she says.

Hocken Curator of Archives and Manuscripts Anna Blackman says after Brasch’s literary and personal archive was opened at the Hocken in 2003 (30 years after his death), the significance of his legacy began to be appreciated.

“We are very fortunate that the Hocken holds such a substantial collection – 25 linear metres of his personal letters and archives. The work, papers and journals of Brasch are now a significant resource for researchers focusing on New Zealand’s rich cultural and literary development during his life-time,” she says.

Charles Orwell Brasch (1909-1973) corresponded with over 600 individual people and this correspondence forms the bulk of the collection. People represented include Janet Frame, James. K Baxter, Colin McCahon, Frank Sargeson, James Courage, James Bertram, Rita Angus, Toss Woollaston, Alistair Campbell, Fred and Eve Page, Douglas Lilburn, Louis Johnson, Denis Glover, Ruth Dallas, Carl Stead and many more.

Brasch’s editorial activities and contribution to the literary scene, as well as the thoughts and opinions of his correspondents are documented through the correspondence.

A letter from James K. Baxter to Brasch (MS-0996-002/026)

“It is a unique insight into the opinions and activities of this group who created so much of New Zealand’s cultural life,” says Anna Blackman.

From 1938 to just prior to his death Brasch wrote a personal journal. These journals document both his inner life of thought as well as his opinion on many topics and his everyday activities.

Pages from Brasch's journal

“Brasch was an acute observer of the world around him and the journals include commentary on not just the arts and literature but also people, politics and contemporary events.”
Further information about Memory of the World and the inscriptions on the register can be viewed on www.unescomow.org.nz.

 

Advice from a best-selling author

Monday, April 16th, 2012 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

 “Don’t wait till the spirit moves. While there are times when inspiration and thought outrace your pen, you’ll never get to the top if you wait on this.”
“Choose the magazine you are going to submit to most carefully … Not a bit of use submitting an article on colour bar or flying saucers to a periodical catering solely for young mothers or fashion trends.”
“Make sure of your facts, whatever you are writing … Don’t even let your characters eat whitebait out of season … unless it’s tinned.”
“Never be set back with rejections. I could have papered a room with mine.”
MS-3854/021, from the Charles and Louise Croot papers
These are some of the tips Essie Summers gave in 1960 to young people interested in free-lance journalism. A copy of her advice, which runs to ten closely-typed pages, is in the papers of Dunedin teacher, broadcaster and writer Charles Croot. Perhaps Croot had invited Summers, a local Presbyterian minister’s wife, to talk to one of his English classes at Kaikorai Valley High School.
Essie Summers was well qualified to give advice to budding writers. She had published poems and stories in magazines, and for six years wrote a popular column in the Timaru Herald. She was also well on the way to becoming one of New Zealand’s most popular novelists. By 1960 she had written eight romances, published in England by Mills & Boon. They would eventually publish 52 of her books, which were translated into 17 languages and sold millions of copies. Many of her books were set in Otago and Canterbury, particularly in the high country, and her lyrical descriptions of the landscapes she loved inspired numerous overseas readers to visit New Zealand.
Bachelors Galore by Essie Summers, published by Mills and Boon, London in 1958. The Hocken has most of Summers’ novels, which are collectors’ items today
As well as giving a wealth of practical advice on formatting, inspiration, subject matter and editing, Summers revealed her own joy in writing: “One may as well admit that it is a great thrill to see one’s name in print and to know that some editor is so convinced of its merit that he is willing to identify himself with your views or imaginings and to pay cold cash for it.” Summers, who was renowned for her charm and kindness, signed off with some encouragement to her audience: “Wishing you all the best and some resultant and desirable little thin envelopes with acceptance slips and cheques.” 
Blog post prepared by Ali Clarke, Reference Assistant

‘Homing in’ on Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen’s literary archive

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

MS-2400/045

Cilla McQueen is one of New Zealand’s major and much lauded poets. Her first volume of poetry, ‘Homing In’, was published in 1982 and since this time she has published eleven volumes of poetry, several of them award winners. Themes including landscape, loss, homeland, displacement and colonisation infuse her evocative writing.

In 2009 she was appointed Poet Laureate for 2009-2011 and in 2010 her most recent volume of poetry ‘The Radio Room’ was published.
McQueen has held the University of Otago’s Burns Fellowship for 1985 and 1986, a Fulbright Visiting Writers’ Fellowship to Stanford University in 1985 and a Goethe Institut Scholarship to Berlin, in 1991 she was awarded the QEII Arts Council Scholarship in Letters. She has also won the New Zealand Book Award three times. McQueen received an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of Otago in 2009. In 2012 she received a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (Poetry).
MS-2400/111
McQueen is also an accomplished and popular performer of her poetry.
MS-2400/058, MS-3247/220, MS-3247/275

McQueen’s archives, held at the Hocken Collections, contain a rich variety of papers including manuscript poetry and plays, correspondence, sound recordings and photographs

Blog post prepared by Debbie Gale, Arrangement and Description Archivist

Locked away : Life in Mount Eden Prison

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

What was it like inside Mount Eden Prison in the early 1960s? A manuscript discovered among Ernie Webber’s papers tells a colourful story. Himself a prisoner, Webber encouraged the writing of another inmate, Bert Pimley, whose novel The Rock Orchid is based on experiences inside. According to Webber, prison authorities applied ‘some viciousness’ when they discovered the manuscript, which they destroyed. Another copy was smuggled out, and Webber later tried to get it published. He was unsuccessful, but the typescript survives in his papers along with related letters and illustrations. The title refers to a character who resembles the beautiful but parasitic rock orchid.

Here are a few excerpts (with original spelling and punctuation):

Officer Desmond Rice was certainly a pathological study. Any time the women in the female division started a riot, Rice went across wearing a boxing glove on one hand, to knock a little sense into them. He got great satisfaction from this, mostly because he could not hurt his hand with the glove on it, nor leave marks on the women, but even if he did, who would believe such accusations, levelled at a responsible deputy principle officer? It stretched people’s credulity a lot when officer Dinny Burns and another, broke a girl’s arm, because she was a trifle independent. This was New Zealand. Such things could never happen here.

*     *     *     *     *

“If you get shifted to the basement, try not to get the ‘craps’,” advised Horne.
“Why? Is that bad?” Pintal wanted to know.
“It’s bad enough. There’s over ninety men living down there, and only one crapper. Of course, you could always use the pot in the cell if you liked.”
Also in the basement was the shower-house, kit-locker, and the “pound”, that dismal row of cold, empty punishment cells reserved for bread and water victims. Within the encircling walls was a fully-equipt boot-making shop, a tailor shop, a joinery department, laundry, tin-smiths shop, and a small department devoted to the manufacture of mail-bags. This prison even boasted a school-room and a chapel.
As they wandered about, Pintal and Horne were approached by a grinning chap, who told Cliff that young Tipu had just had a spot of bad luck. Got caught with Symes, said the chap, and went off, chuckling, to spread the news.
What did he mean by that, Cliff?” Berne asked.
“Tipu’s got bad habits. Gets himself shagged now and then by Bill Symes”

*     *     *     *     *

Gus Powell, the receiving officer, banned all comics that had guns in them, and all cheap books that had guns or half-dressed women on the covers. This was New Zealand’s toughest prison, not a Boys Home.
The officers in the sentry towers whiled away the tedious daylight hours furtively reading cow-boy books, and wing officers dodged into cells at any opportunity, to read a few chapters of almost anything lying about.
The magazine Man, a harmless monthly edition given to short stories and pictures of scantily-clad females, was banned, as also was the magazine People. But if one looked about enough, both of these editions could be found somewhere in the prison. The New Zealand weekly scandal paper, Truth, was definitely off-limits within the confines of the Mount, although a copy could usually be had, if perhaps a few days late.

Webber’s papers came to Hocken twenty years ago, but it was only during recent arrangement and description work that The Rock Orchid and other treasures came to light. Webber (1906-1983) was an intrepid New Zealand businessman. He was involved with the McArthur investment scandal of the 1930s, sold munitions in China during World War Two, and invested in forestry and other ventures back in New Zealand. He had passions for travel, entertaining, railways, and book collecting, and was part of New Zealand’s underground gay culture (the reason for one of his two spells in prison). All of these aspects of his life come through in his varied collection of personal and business papers of over ten shelf metres.

Blog post prepared by David Murray, Assistant Archivist, from Webber, Cyril Ernie Richard : Papers (MS-3333/197 and 198).

For a look at Ernie’s interest in collecting Railways books see
http://www.library.otago.ac.nz/exhibitions/all_aboard/index.html

Publisher’s archive a great resource

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

The distinctive John McIndoe cat logo on the office door

In November 2008 Hocken was offered further records of the printing and publishing company John McIndoe Ltd, following the liquidation of successor firm Rogan McIndoe Print Ltd. McIndoes had been established in 1893, and its publishing arm flourished from 1968 through to the 1990s under editors Peter Stewart, Brian Turner, and Barbara Larson.

Some of the graphic art materials on the floor at McIndoes

On 17 November we appraised and collected records from the former company buildings in Crawford Street. Storage conditions were dry and the records were generally in good condition. Many were stored in cupboards and bundled according to publication titles, others were found in boxes on shelves, in loose piles on the floor, or tucked away in odd drawers and corners. We picked our way through two large floors of the rambling old buildings and eventually took 16 shelf metres of records back to the Hocken. These were added to a similar quantity of records we had received between 1978 and 1985, but which mostly remained unlisted. Much of the material was neatly wrapped in parcels with paper printed with the elegant cat logo of McIndoes.

A storage cupboard showing the neat “cat wrapped” parcels of records

From February 2009 to January 2010, thanks to funding from the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board, Project Archivist Sally Milner fully arranged and described all of our McIndoe holdings, packaging them in preservation-quality enclosures, and listing them in detail on Hakena.

The collections contain a wide array of material relating to the publishing and printing activities of the company. They include authors’ book files and other papers relating to literary projects, correspondence, financial records, photographs, and artwork. Authors and poets who are represented in the collection include Roderick Finlayson, Owen Marshall, Cilla McQueen, Vincent O’Sullivan, Philip Temple, and Hone Tuwhare, to name but a few.

Some items from the McIndoes records at the Hocken. Note the cat wrapping paper!

The collection, which occupies some 25 shelves, is already proving valuable for research into printing and publishing history, individual authors, and related subjects.

Our special thanks goes to Lawrie Forbes of Zealsteel, owner of the McIndoe buildings, for ensuring that records were not destroyed following the company liquidation, and arranging for their donation to the Hocken.

This post was prepared by Arrangement and Description Archivist, Debbie Gale, and Assistant Archivist, David Murray.