Archive goes live

Historic images from a University archive have now been published online, giving us a fascinating glimpse of academic and student life in the University's early days.

When work began in 2008 to conserve and catalogue the international collections held by the University of Leeds International Textiles Archive (ULITA), no-one realised what a wealth of manuscript and photographic material would be unearthed alongside the textiles themselves.

Whilst colleagues documented the seven major collections, curator Jill Winder has been investigating the contents of 17 boxes of records originally from the Department of Textile Industries, which complement the large collection of teaching slides held at ULITA.

The archive gives a fascinating glimpse of the innovative teaching that characterised the Department from its foundation in 1880. It includes syllabus cards, exam papers (including one handwritten paper from the turn of the century), student notebooks and academic papers.

It also gives an insight into life outside the lecture theatres through its collection of Textile Society membership cards, invitations, open day programmes, and records of trips to overseas exhibitions. There are many pictures of the Department buildings, inside and out, and group photographs of staff and students, putting faces to some of the names in the documents.

The complete archive list and reproductions of some of the highlights have been published online on the ULITA website. Early group photographs have also been added to the University Library's Leeds University Digital Objects (LUDOS) website, where the pictures can be viewed full-screen.

Says Jill, "We've had a lot of interest in the archive already, and hope that alumni and family history researchers will be able to spot relatives in the photographs. By publishing it online we also aim to inspire and assist anyone studying the history of textile manufacturing, and the history of textiles education, an area in which Leeds was a world leader. We hope to develop this archive alongside work on our teaching slide collections."

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