Featured Archive – Captain William D.A. Kemmis film collection

The Kemmis collection is a small collection of film reels ranging from the mid to late 1930’s. The reels, stored in an old suitcase came from Moyaliffe House, which was home to the Armstrong family from the seventeenth century to its sale in 1999. Winona (Jess) Armstrong inherited Moyaliffe following the death of her only brother, William in France in 1917. Jess married Captain William Kemmis of Ballinacor, Co. Wexford in 1927..

The suitcase was given to a local family some years ago and brought in to Tipperary Studies in 2018.  While the films could not be viewed locally, a brief index on some of the boxes suggested the contents might be of social and cultural interest.

The 16mm film was converted to digital format by the DVD Centre, Dublin and with the kind permission of family descendants relevant material was placed online in our digital archive.

The archive is accessible here http://tipperarystudies.ie/captain-william-d-a-kemmis-film-collection/ and contains some footage of farming in Tipperary, horseracing and the coronation

Featured Archive RTÉ Archive

Between the years 1952 and 1953, the English artist Nevill Johnson, supported by a small Arts Council grant and using a second hand Leica camera, shot a series of photographs depicting the people and places of the ‘real’ Dublin of that time. As an outsider looking in, he captured a valuable social record of the city before it changed irrevocably.

Anglesea Market, Dublin city (1952/1953)

Published in 1981 by Academy Press Nevill Johnson’s book ‘Dublin : The People’s City’, a collection of these photographs, won an award at the Leipzig International Book Art Fair.

RTÉ purchased the full collection of over 1,500 negatives from Nevill Johnson in 1979.  Since then RTÉ Archives has digitised the collection on two occasions, firstly in the mid 1990s, and again in the mid 2000s. The images were originally scanned as 18 MB JPEG files using the once cutting edge, but now defunct Photo-CD technology.

RTÉ Archives is currently rescanning the Johnson Collection with the assistance of Grants Advanced PhotoLab and Digital Bureau. This time the resulting scans are 300MB TIFF files. Whereas previous digitisation attempts saw the collection reproduced with a certain gloom and dullness, great care is being taken to select an appropriate tonal range for each frame.

George’s Place, Dublin city (1952/1953)

To date approximately one third of the collection has been rescanned and the results show a collection completely enlivened by the digitisation process. This is most apparent in the faces of the Dubliners captured on film over 60 years ago.

The Johnson Collection can be viewed online as JPEG images, and we expect the entire rescanned collection to be fully available by the end of 2019.

Allingham Street, Dublin city (1952/1953)

“To be Taught Everything Necessary”

Discover 19th Century Childhood through Loreto Boarding Schools

To be taught everything necessary …..’; these were the instructions of the parents of Ellen Hart, 28 Watling Street, Dublin, when she enrolled as a boarding pupil in Loreto convent Navan in 1838.  

a) NAV/SCH/01/01/01, Pupil account book, Loreto Convent Navan, 1835 – 1855 – entry for Ellen Hart ‘To be taught everything necessary’

What curriculum included ‘everything necessary’? What was Ellen’s experience of boarding school in 1838? Explore the world of 19th century childhood through a unique collection of boarding school records and memorabilia, held in IBVM (Loreto), Institute & Irish Province Archives.

WEX/18, Loreto Convent Wexford, student Autograph Book, 1930’s

Discover a world of childhood illnesses and remedies exemplified in the letter of M. Frances Teresa Ball IBVM to Mrs Irwin, Rathmile House, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, on New Year’s Eve 1829, describing her daughter Margaret’s recovery from scarlet fever. Look out for the prescription for wine! Explore school dress codes in an age before school uniforms, captured in the Loreto Kilkenny class photograph of 1897; lace collars and cuffs proudly on display vie with prominent ‘Children of Mary’ medals for those in senior classes with unblemished records! Uncover the transition from standard classrooms to laboratories and kitchens as students began to study science and home economics, conduct experiments, study catering and dressmaking skills. Rediscover 19th entertainments through hand painted lantern slides with moving parts, providing entertainment in a world before radio, television or Wi Fi. View the world through the eyes of a young woman captured in her diary, jottings and autograph books such as this from Loreto Wexford.

b) TB/RAT/4/5 Letter from M. Frances Teresa Ball IBVM to Mrs Irwin, Rathmile House, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, 1829

Discover our archival collections at IBVM (Loreto) Archives, 55 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2; https://loreto.ie/history/loreto-archives/, or our online catalogues through the Irish Archives Resource (search for ‘Loreto’ on the www.iar.ie website).


[Contact details]

IBVM (Loreto) Archives, 55 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

+353 1 662 0158


Fake News, Mental Health and Escaping the Library: Civic Mission in Archives and Libraries

“City and College should stand, shoulder to shoulder, facing the problems of life together”

These words were written by a member of the Cardiff University Settlement in 1906. The settlement was a radical experiment in education and friendship between the University and its immediate neighbours. 113 years later, these words still sum up why we are committed to working with audiences beyond our walls.

Over the last year, Cardiff University Libraries and Archives has been researching how to make our services and collections more appealing, accessible and useful to audiences outside academia.

To test some of our ideas, we’ve been running a number of pilot projects over the summer, aimed at creating opportunities to:

  • Enjoy our libraries and archives
  • Encourage responses to our collections
  • Link people and resources

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

Bringing Edward Thomas’ Archive to the Senedd

As an academic establishment, it’s so important for us to show how archives and libraries can spark creativity and reflection, as well as research and education.

As part of Literature Wales’ Holy Glimmers festival, we were joined by literary critic Jafar Iqbal and pupils from Fitzalan High School. Together, we explored letters and poems from Edward Thomas’ archive – discussing Mental Health, Family and Conflict in the poet’s work and creating original works, including poetry and literary criticism.

We presented this work to a welcoming crowd at the Senedd some weeks later. The class were given a special tour of the Siambr, and also took the chance to have their say on the Welsh Youth Parliament’s wall (pupils wanted less homework, and for us to be kinder to refugees).

Cyflwyno ein gwaith ar lwyfan y Senedd / Sharing our work on the Senedd stage

This programme of work was a small example of how libraries and archives can be catalysts for new creative work – and that we can share that new work with wider audiences when we can collaborate with institutions like Literature Wales.

Library Escape Room

One of our aims for our Civic Engagement programme is to create opportunities for people to enjoy using our libraries – to encourage them to feel comfortable and confident when using our services and spaces. It’s also key that our staff get a chance to try something new, beyond the ‘business as usual’ of working with students and researchers.

The Escape Room was developed to encourage young people to take up space in our libraries, to enjoy exploring them and to build their confidence in using our services.

Cardiff University First Campus joined us to trial the activity – solving a series of locked puzzles to get their hands on a prize. First Campus holds summer schools for your people with Autism Spectrum conditions, and young people with experiences of the Care Sector, and the Escape Room activity was designed to be adapted according to the needs of each group.

Rhedeg! Yn y llyfrgell! Meddiannu’r llyfrgell wyddoniaeth gyda Campws Cyntaf / Running! In the library! Taking over the science library with First Campus

It was a fun and successful trial – we will be adapting and refining the working model, with the aim of offering the Escape Room to secondary schools on a regular basis in the future.

Fake News with JOMEC and Media Wales

One of our biggest strengths as libraries and archives is our ability to match people with resources. We developed our Fake News project to enhance our Libraries’ role as a space for connection – by answering a genuine demand from our community by enabling access to expertise, equipment and new experiences.

We worked with English and Media Studies students from Fitzalan High School to create a project to take us out of the classroom and into newsrooms, broadcast studios, and to Cardiff University’s brand new journalism campus. Staff at JOMEC – Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture – and Media Wales were very generous with us, as we landed in their workspaces full of energy and questions!

Holi’r newyddiadurwyr yn dwll yn Media Wales / Asking *all* the questions to journalists at Media Wales

In preparation for their own field interviews, the class worked with Media Wales on their interview techniques, and learned how journalists collect and verify information before it is printed. At JOMEC, we looked at research skills – how to find good quality information, and how to come up with canny questions that get to the heart of a topic.

Profi bywyd o flaen y camera yn stiwdios dysgu JOMEC / Trying out on-camera life at JOMEC’s student studios

On our last day together, we ventured out into the ‘real world’, using our new skills to create videos interviews with the general public – asking them about their attitudes towards fake news and the media in general. Due to a slight minibus crisis, we also got a last-minute trip to Glamorgan Archives in the bargain – thank you to the staff, who welcomed us all at very short notice!

Holi’r cyhoedd am eu barn ar Newyddion Ffug / Interviewing the public about Fake News

Next term, we’ll be meeting again to co-create a digital resource, using the interviews we collected and what we learned from the experts at Media Wales and JOMEC. Our hope is that every school in Wales will be able to learn from our experiences, as we share our resource through the Welsh Government’s HWB platform.

Plans for the Future

It’s been a very busy summer, and this is only part of the picture – schools are only one of many audiences we work with, so we’ll continue to develop our programmes over the years to come, finding new ways to open up our collections to people across Wales and beyond.

We’ll be publishing our Civic Engagement strategy for Cardiff University Libraries and Archives in the new year – in the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about our programmes, and how we work, get in touch: mailto:specialcollections@cardiff.ac.uk

Featured Archive – The Public Record Office of Ireland

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is the official archive for Northern Ireland and holds over 3 million historical records, including church registers, emigrant letters, workhouse records, and files created by government departments and courts of law. Most relate to the North of Ireland and dated from the 17th century onwards, offering a wealth of information on society, economy and governance. PRONI’s oldest document is a bull of Pope Honorius III, dated 1219.

PRONI is based at purpose built premises in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast and is a division within the NI Department for Communities (DfC).  A number of archives have been digitised and are available online athttps://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni including wills, maps, street directories, valuation records and the Ulster Covenant. The electronic catalogue can be accessed at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/search-ecatalogue 

 PRONI delivers a programme of events, talks, conferences, exhibitions and book launches over the course of the year. Many of the events relate to the marking of significant centenaries and other notable anniversaries. Details can be found on the PRONI website.  These cover a wide range of subjects including amongst other: family and local history, marking centenaries, culture, wars and conflicts, migration and the Ulster Plantation. 

External view of PRONI