Thursday, 29 May 2014

Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera?

I recently attended the Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera? symposium held on the 3rd May 2014 at the University of Auckland. I spent a fascinating day listening to a diverse array of speakers drawn from the cartoon world (Alan Moir), academia (University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington) and libraries/archives (Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL) including the NZ Cartoon Archive).

Ref: William Bricknell Gibbs, He's (H) all there at Rat catching, no location, c. 1880s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 661-4 
Alan Moir's talk gave a good overview of political cartoons both within and outside of newspapers. He noted that cartoons are valuable because they reflect opinions and ideas over the course of history. Good cartoons he says, are those which feature few words but are still incredibly powerful and use metaphor to good effect. It's worth noting that many cartoons don't make sense or work outside of their country of origin because the sense of humour embodied in the cartoon is tied to that country.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Calling all petrol heads

Do you love cars? The sleek lines, revving engine and the smell of an oily rag? Well have we got a blog post for you! Drawn from the collections at the North and West Auckland Research Centres, we have vintage cars galore plus images of car rallies all set in the landscapes of the North Shore and West Auckland.

The introduction of cars 100 years ago revolutionised the way people lived, worked and spent their leisure time. Suddenly getting from A to B was much quicker and more efficient, opening up opportunities for people to take outings and trips. Like all  places around the world, the introduction of the car also brought a radical change in the landscape and the way towns were laid out and operated and some not so pleasant side effects, such as pollution.

Keen to find out more? Check out this great visual history of the car in NZ and browse through the heritage resources at Auckland Libraries.

Pre-1920s cars:

Ref: Frank Morris, international buggy, location unknown, c. 1910s, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, FMO-0729-00066-G 
Ref: Photographer unknown, pre-1920 touring Daimler, Park Road, Titirangi, c. 1920s, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-10M-02768
Ref: CF Bell, open top vehicle, location unknown, c. 1920s, North Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, D_TR_0008_0

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Shakespeare's First Folio

There are  a number of Shakespearean treasures in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library. Many of these are from the founding collections donated by Sir George Grey in 1882.

The First Folio was the first edition to collect together 36 of Shakespeare's plays and is a highly prized publication. Without it, Shakespeare's plays would be lost to us. The publication was edited by the actors John Hemminge and Henry Condell and only about 1,000 copies were originally printed.

The library's First Folio is one of just three in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only 228 remaining copies in the world. Thanks to Grey's donation, we are also the only library in NZ with a rare First Folio and a contemporary quarto of one of the plays (Pericles, 1619). The library also hold many publications by Shakespeare's contemporaries, such as Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser and John Donne.

Dr. Emma Smith of Hertford College, University of Oxford University, recently came to NZ to study our First Folio. Despite its rarity and importance, public access to this resource is important to us at Auckland Libraries, something which Dr. Smith remarked on positively.

Ref: William Shakespeare, First Folio Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories & tragedies, printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C1936

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Life 100 Years Ago and the Auckland Weekly News Supplement photos

The Auckland Weekly News: a journal of commerce, agriculture, politics, literature and art ran from 1863 to 1971. From 1898 a photographic supplement was added. Auckland Libraries has digitised the published images from 1898 to 1943. The originals of the supplements along with the newspapers are held by the Sir George Grey Special Collections and are a valuable resource for social historians and students and a wide variety of people carrying out research.

You will be seeing a lot more of the photos from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News  ... We have just signed up to be part of the Life 100 Years Ago project from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, military training, 7 May 1914, no locations, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140507-39-1
Using Twitter and the hashtag #WW100, we will be tweeting a photo a week from the newspaper supplement. Other contributing institutions are tweeting extract from diaries (e.g. Leslie Adkins diary - Te Papa), letters (Roy Thomas Bruce's letters - University of Canterbury's collections) and  newspapers (Papers Past -  The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa and contributing institutions).

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mixed emotions

One of the very human traits that is literally written all over our face, is our emotions. Be it happy or sad, scared or angry, this is usually immediately obvious by our facial expressions. Some people are able to hide their emotions well (they make great card players!) but most of us make our feelings pretty clear.

Capturing these moments using a camera is a common practice and helps us to remember what was happening at the time, such as a family portrait. It is worth noting though, that people in the past viewed showing their emotions in photographs in a very different light. Have you ever noticed that people in early photographs never smile? There have been many theories regarding the reason for this - was it their bad teeth? This is unlikely since most people had bad teeth due to poor dental hygiene at the time.

Ref: Herman Schmidt, Bullen family, Auckland, c. 1890s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-68325
One very plausible theory, is that smiles were differently perceived in the past, as a result of painterly traditions. These traditions were adopted by photography when it was first introduced and had a great influence on this new visual form. Rather than a smile being seen as something positive (as we see it now), it was seen in a negative light. The reason being that only the drunk, poor, the innocent or those in the entertainment business were depicted smiling in paintings. So if you were upper class and didn't want those negative associations, you avoided smiling at all costs in photographs!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Milford Track

Recently I walked the Milford Track. Today it takes just three days of walking a well formed path. I am a tramper and I found it a challenge, so what was it like for the early pioneers?

The first settler at Milford Sound was Donald Sutherland (1843/44-1919) who in 1880 discovered the Sutherland Falls.

Ref: James Richardson/Burton Brothers, Milford Sound with the 'City of Milford', 1878-1880, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-930
Sutherland started building a track to allow visitors access to the falls but the rugged Fiordland coast made finding an overland route from Lake Te Anau essential.

Ref: CW Sundstrum, Sutherland Falls, Milford Sounds, 1907, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19070228-15-3

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Calling all Westies, see what we have pinned!

Are you a true green Westie? Or perhaps a closet one ..? Then you may be interested to check out one of our images from out West on Historypin.

Ref: Heritage & Research West Auckland content on Historypin, Auckland Libraries
We have 'pinned' a small collection of images of  Massey from the West Auckland Research Centre. They range from a 1968 panoramic photo from the J.T. Diamond collection, to a charming snap of a young boy holding a ‘Land for Sale' sign from the print collection.

You can see these two image below and view the full collection on Historypin map - just visit the Auckland Libraries, Heritage & Research channel page on Historypin and then click on Collections and finally click on ‘Massey’s changing landscape’ or just click here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Researcher in residence 2014

Is research your passion? Do you have a burning topic that you just can't wait to get stuck into? Then keep reading, this is what you have been waiting for!

Ref: Tornquist Portrait Studio, scene from a production by the Auckland Little Theatre Society, c. 1920-1930s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZMS 867-43
The Auckland Library Heritage Trust, in association with Auckland Council, is offering a research scholarship using the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library. Unique opportunities like this don't come along very often and this is only the second year that this has run. So if you want to immerse yourself in one of the major collections in NZ, find out more about Grey’s wonderful legacy and focus on a research project, then look no further!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Hairstyles for women

In an earlier blog post, we explored the 'taxonomy of fashion', which can be used to date photographs. This was based on a blog post by Walter Cook  from The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa, which focused on photographs of middle class women from 1850s to 1920s. Apart from clothes, other the 'tricks of the trade' which let you play photo detective, include paying close attention to hairstyles.

Women's hair can be a defining feature, marking their own personal sense of style. Some points in history have celebrated more elaborate 'dos' more so than others. The images below are drawn from 1909/1910 and were taken by Herman John Schmidt (1872-1959), an Auckland photographer based at a studio in the Edson Building, 270 Queen Street. This photographs are from the collections held at the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library and you can find out more about Schmidt here.

Walter Scott notes that the piled up hair look came into its own in 1907. Looking through our collections, we certainly have a large number of Schmidt photos which fall into this category. Requiring a lot of pins and ornamentation and all without the aid of a hairdryer, these look very high maintenance styles!

Also popular in the Schmidt photos are very large bows and feathers, ringlets (not just for girls!) and frizzed hair (this was also popular during the 1880s-1890s) and bouffed hair. Long hair, an ever popular hairstyle is generally only seen worn down by children but our photo of Nurse Cooper shows that women did also occasionally 'let their hair down' so to speak!

Auckland Libraries has a two books by Maureen Taylor  in its heritage collections relating to hairstyles, family history and photographs as well as a fascinating book about the tikanga of hair for Māori.

Hair up:
Ref: Herman Schmidt, Miss Murphy (on right), no location, 1909, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-55982