This week marks my second week working on the Object Trajectories UGRLS project, so I felt it would be good to write a post about the perks of being a UGRL scholar. Besides the most obvious perk of engaging with live research as a first year, I’ve also had the opportunity to attend several residentials and received some amazing documents from my project supervisor. As part of my induction to the Brotherton Library Special Collections I also got to see one of Shakespeare’s first folios, and the first published book of the Brontës’ poems, which made me go a bit nerdy literary historian for a few minutes. This post may not be particularly interesting to some, it’s more for myself to keep track of what I’ve been doing as part of the ‘museum of me’ as one wise facilitator told me. Although it does include some images of historical goodies, so there is that enticing aspect.
So, what have I done so far? Firstly I’ll cover the two residentials that I’ve been lucky enough to go on, one called the Weetwood residential which was all about improving your skills, and another called Selside, which is all physical activity but very confidence boosting. The Weetwood residential focused on making the most of your scholarship, engaging with academics (the dreaded networking), and improving vital skills such as presentation and project management skills. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not the most outwardly confident person so being able to improve on my ‘networking’ skills in a comfortable environment with other scholars was amazing. The residential was held at Weetwood Hall, a four star hotel so easily the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and included a drinks reception and evening meal. As a non-drinker, hearing the words ‘drinks reception’ fills me with dread, as does the prospect of cranberry juice (why do people assume non-drinkers are obsessed with cranberry juice, it really baffles me), but it was a great opportunity to meet other scholars. Hearing some of the other scholars projects was incredibly interesting, especially as I was meeting people from the sciences who normally I never meet. Perhaps the best bit of the residential was being seated next to a fellow History student, who is the most enthusiastic person about coins I’ve ever met (although I have seen the coins, they’re beautiful), where we proceeded to talk History for who knows how many hours. So enough rambling about Weetwood, I’ve included some photographs below but unfortunately I didn’t take too many (whoops!)
As for the Selside residential, all of the activities were based outdoors, which as I’m not a particularly active person I was dreading this residential. However, the first advantage to this was my small group of 6 (including me) were all scholars from the same faculty, and so we already knew each other briefly. I decided to throw myself into it, and anything I felt uncomfortable at I would quietly excuse myself. Did I do this, you ask? I did the exact opposite. I went ghyll scrambling, to which I have to congratulate the facilitators as I was undoubtedly the most awkward person there, taking the muddy, hillier routes to avoid the water, and they never once made me feel I was being a pain. The highlight for me, without even having to think about it, was the caving; seeing as I’m petrified of pitch black darkness, water, and I’m claustrophobic this was a massive shock to everyone who knows me. There was something about standing in the coldest, freshest water I’ve seen outside of Scotland’s Lochs, admiring the various rock formations and stalactites. Even though I only briefly attempted what can only be described as a ‘crawling space’, the experience of being underground was amazing and the biggest rush of adrenaline I’ve ever had. Now, you’re probably reading this thinking ‘did anything not go to plan?’, and you’d be correct to question the positives. I did get incredibly sunburnt on my face (only the left side, which was an attractive opposite to the midge bites covering the right hand side) despite applying SPF 50 to my skin and my legs proceeded to ache for the next few weeks; this was great considering I then worked two University Open Days in a row. Below are some pictures I took of the surroundings, which were amazing, even though the sheep were incredibly vocal.
This post has ended up being longer than I expected it to be, so I’ll keep the next section short and sweet. My amazing project supervisor (honestly I lucked out, he’s already organised for me to go to the British Library in London and sent me on an archival skills training course) gave me some documents from the early twentieth century that were created and circulated by Phillips of Hitchin, which I’ve included pictures of below. Phillips of Hitchin were antique dealers, but they also were not dissimilar to interior designers, as can be seen in the fact they reproduced wallpaper designs for customers.
Below are some websites that can be used to either look more at the antique trade in general, or if you’re interested in Phillips of Hitchin keep an eye out on the blog.
http://csaam.leeds.ac.uk/ – General website for the Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market
https://antiquetrade.leeds.ac.uk/ – Interactive map resource detailing antique dealers in Britain during the twentieth century
http://www.antiquedealers.leeds.ac.uk/ – Blog for a research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century, including the Phillips of Hitchin research.
I’ll likely post again about UGRLS, purely because it’s such a great scheme and I like to shoot from the rooftops about it, but not for a while yet so that’s the end of my general nerdiness for both the scheme and the project I’m part of! I’ll catch you all again next week for another exciting instalment in the life of this history student