Image above: Typewriter of science-fiction writer Arthur C Clarke (1917-2008). Image credit: University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives (ref: D1232).

Discovering new records

The annual Accessions to Repositories Survey aims to discover and highlight the records and items that archive services have taken in over the previous year. We publish highlights on our website , with selections searchable via the Discovery service. Publishing accessions data to Discovery allows information about collections to become findable without being fully catalogued. It also permits researchers to gain access to new material or view relevant descriptive information to aid their research.

Science and medicine

The Royal Society

Papers of nutritionists Elsie Widdowson and Robert McCance
Elsie Widdowson is particularly inspiring as an example of a pioneering female scientist, with the added aura of fascination that comes with someone who is willing to do self-experimentation. Widdowson and Robert McCance, who first began to collaborate in 1933, formed a partnership spanning sixty years that saw them become leading figures in nutrition science. They made a significant contribution to the science behind the rationing implemented during the Second World War, experimenting on themselves to demonstrate the possibility of survival on limited amounts and food groups.

A woman in an armchair

Image credit: The Royal Society (ref: MS/934)


Royal College of Physicians of London

Medical jurisprudence case notes and papers of Alfred Swaine Taylor
Physician and forensic scientist Alfred Swaine Taylor (1806-1880) published ground-breaking works on the use of medical evidence to solve crimes and used his knowledge to serve as expert witness in a number of significant murder trials. Following his appointment to the newly-created chair at St Guy’s Hospital in 1831, he gained a reputation as one of the foremost authorities on medical jurisprudence. He later became equally well known as a toxicologist, with his works on both subjects considered standard works for lawyers and physicians alike.

Drawing of a row of phials with colourful liquids

Image credit: Royal College of Physicians of London (ref: MS-TAYLA)


Science Museum Archives

Business papers and photographs of seismologist John Milne
The ‘John Milne Seismological Library’ provides a broad picture of seismology in Milne’s time, not easily garnered from other sources. Of particular interest from the archive is the visitor book from Milne’s observatory in Shilde. It contains signatures of some of the great figures from the early days of instrumental seismology. Together with an album of photographs featuring observatories from around the world that Milne visited, this collection paints a vivid picture of the beginnings of international cooperation in seismology.

A closed notebook with a blue front cover and another notebook open

Image credit: Science Museum Archives (ref: MILN)


Medieval to modern

Dorset History Centre

Medieval music sheets from the Earls of Ilchester estate
These two parchment membranes are from the beginning of what must have been an imposing 14th-century rotulus (a roll or scroll). They contain English high-art polyphonic music (part-music, usually on five-line staves, and in measured notation), which is rare. Unlike the relatively stable plainsong, it went out of fashion and was superseded by new musical styles.

A medieval music score

Image credit: Dorset History Centre (ref: D-FSI, Fox-Strangways)


University of Manchester Library

Letters to Henry Ashworth, founding member of the Anti-Corn Law League
These letters from high-profile correspondents to cotton manufacturer Henry Ashworth (1794-1880) discuss his industry, national politics and the Anti-Corn Law League. This political movement campaigned to repeal the Corn Laws, which protected aristocratic landowners’ interests, rather than working people’s, by keeping the price of bread artificially high. Ashworth was a passionate advocate of free trade, a movement whose intellectual centre lay in Manchester.

A collection of posted envelopes

Image credit: University of Manchester Library, (ref: 2019/80 HAL)


V&A Department of Theatre and Performance

Archive of ska band Madness
Donated by the band, this archive features instruments, performance costumes (including the pictured newspaper suit), publicity material, collectable souvenirs and a script for the musical Our House. This small archive gives an insight into the 40-year career of this influential band, in particular highlighting the role of marketing and fan culture in British music.

A white suit jacket covered in newspaper headlines

Image credit: Victoria and Albert Museum (ref: S.108.2019)

Return to Part 1: Introduction

Return to Part 2: Collecting trends