7 ways to find material in the British Cartoon Archive

Welcome to part two of our refresher series on how to find Special Collections & Archive material to use in your research! Today, we’re exploring the wonderful (and sometimes weird) world of the British Cartoon Archive (BCA).

Kent’s British Cartoon Archive is one of the largest collections of political cartoons in the UK, if not the world; since its establishment by academics here in the 1970s, the Archive has grown to contain material from over 300 artists, and over 200,000 cartoons have been digitised and put online through the British Cartoon Archive catalogue.

With such a vast collection, it can be tricky to know where to start searching for material! But we are here, as ever, to guide you through our wonderful cartoon collections…

1) Think around your research area

As cartoons tend to be catalogued using the language of the time, it’s worth taking a few minutes to jot down some words, people, places and dates related to your topic. This way you can try other searches if your initial results don’t yield much – it can be a real trial and error type quest! Here’s an example, imagining you’re interested in cartoons from the Second World War:

2) Books or artwork?

You can find British Cartoon Archive material in two places: if it’s books and journals you’re interested in, LibrarySearch is your place to go. You can find our guide to locating material using LibrarySearch here.

If it’s cartoons, there’s a whole new website for you to explore! Much of the BCA’s art is available to view online for free through the BCA catalogue – you don’t need a special log in to do so.

BCA1 - British Cartoon Archive catalogue

3) Searching the BCA catalogue – general searches

If you want a general overview of what artwork can be found in the British Cartoon Archive that’s relevant to your research, the main search bar at the top of the catalogue is your friend. You can search by keyword / artist / place / date and the catalogue will bring up images that match your terms. You can order the images by date and view every relevant image on one page rather than clicking through, if you prefer to do so.

BCA2 - Initial searches

BCA3 - first search

4) Searching the BCA catalogue – if you know what you’re looking for

If you know have a rather more specific search term, you can use either of the ‘Advanced Search’ options on the left hand side. If you’re after seeing all cartoons of Margaret Thatcher, use the ‘persons depicted’ search. If you’re interested in cartoons between specific dates, or on a certain topic but by a particular artist, the ‘cartoons’ search is for you.

5) Click through for bigger images

When you find relevant results, you’ll see a tiny version of the cartoon next to a description of the work. Click through twice and you’ll see a larger version of the image.

6) Don’t forget copyright

42061 – Leslie Gibbard: “With the compliments of my client – she’s suing for breach of copyright!”, 15 June 1988, The Guardian

Although the BCA looks after (and owns) many collections of cartoons, we don’t always hold the rights to reproduce the images. Many cartoonists’ work is owned by the newspapers they draw for, so if you’re looking for an image to publish please do take note of the copyright information that’s included in the catalogue entry. We can also supply higher-resolution versions of images for a fee, but bear in mind that the copyright owners may also charge for image use. You can find more information on copyright here.

If you’re wanting to use BCA images for use in presentations, essays or teaching, please do get in touch with us and we can explain how this works.

7) Explore the biographies for artist (and collection) information

Did you know that the BCA website has details about almost every cartoonist within our holdings which you can browse? What’s more, if you scroll down to the bottom of each artist biography page you can find details of any additional holdings that aren’t catalogued yet – so if something doesn’t appear on the main BCA catalogue, it’s worth having a look here. You’re welcome to view uncatalogued material, just get in touch with us and say what you’d like to see.

Part of our ongoing series about finding material in Special Collections & Archives: see also tips for exploring collections through LibrarySearch

Eight women in the archives for International Women’s Day 2018

Hello all! March has rolled around again, and now that the snow has melted we can turn our thoughts to the other key event of the month. March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day. The theme of this year’s Day is ‘Press for Progress’, which calls on us all to reduce economic, social and political barriers to gender inequality. With this in mind, we thought we’d have a quick look at some of the awesome women whose stories are part of Special Collections & Archives to see how they’ve broken down barriers for their generation and those who came after:

  • Martha A. Hall

MA Medical Humanities seminar using Artists Books, 2017. Martha A. Hall’s work ‘Five Doctors Speak’ is on the lower left.

Martha A. Hall (1949 – 2003) was a poet, teacher, businesswoman and artist based in New England. Hall began making artists’ books in 1996, when she realised that her breast cancer diagnosis could be explored and communicated through creative means. Hall’s work explores lived experiences of illness, and she left her books to public institutions in order to spark dialogue between patients and medical professionals, as well as allowing others to express their feelings around medicine, health and healing.

In 2016, Dr Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė curated an exhibition of artists’ books, called Prescriptions, at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury. The exhibition featured several of Hall’s works, as well as other books by artists exploring lived experiences of health. Many of these books (including two of Hall’s) have been deposited to Special Collections & Archives here at Kent.

Martha A. Hall’s books leave an extraordinary legacy, inspiring us to think about the relationship between our bodies, illness and the wider world. Not only does her art express how it feels to live with cancer, but it challenges notions of how narrative is told. You can find more information about Martha A. Hall here and discover Dr Stella Bolaki’s research project here.

  • Linda Smith

Linda Smith (1958 – 2006) was a comedian, writer and broadcaster best known for her work on radio shows ‘Just a Minute’ and ‘The News Quiz’. Born in Kent, her archive was deposited in Special Collections & Archives by her partner Warren Lakin in 2013 and is the founding collection of our British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Smith’s archives give a unique insight into how stand-up comedy is created, recorded and promoted – and asks many questions of us in terms of how we collected and preserve material that is by its very nature ephemeral and improvised.

Every year, the University of Kent holds a lecture in memory of Linda Smith where we invite a guest to speak about comedy and its relation to social and political commentary. The event also celebrates Linda Smith’s life and work; previous events have featured Mark Thomas, Andy Hamilton and Susan Calman. Stay tuned for details of this year’s speaker!

  • Nowell Johnson

CH6422: Black and white print of Hewlett and Nowell Johnson at the Peking Dance School, China 1964.

Nowell Mary Edwards Johnson (1906 – 1983) was a Canterbury-based artist. She is most well known as the wife of the ‘Red Dean’ of Canterbury Cathedral, Hewlett Johnson, whom she married in 1938.

Nowell supported Hewlett’s passion for socialism, illustrating books with him (‘The Socialist Sixth of the World’, 1939) and travelling to many communist countries. Her diaries, which are held in Special Collections & Archives as part of the Hewlett Johnson papers, give a fascinating account of her travels to China, Hungary and Russia as she records in great detail her activities, the people she met, and the countries themselves. Nowell’s diaries are also beautifully illustrated – often in colour – as she draws scenes from her travels. You can see her determination to support Hewlett as well as her compassion for others and desire to make a genuine difference in the world.

Read more about Nowell’s life here and find out more information about the Hewlett Johnson papers on our website.

  • Valerie Eliot

Valerie Eliot (1926 – 2012) was hugely influential in editing and publishing her late husband T.S. Eliot’s work after his death in 1965. Valerie had been a huge fan of T.S. Eliot’s writing since she was a teenager (there was an almost 40 year age gap between the couple) and was determined to work with him. After T.S. Eliot died, Valerie inherited his shares in the publisher Faber and Faber and edited the 1974 facsimile edition of ‘The Waste Land’, which includes poet Ezra Pound’s annotations to Eliot’s manuscript.

Our Modern Firsts – Poetry and Prose Collection includes many pamphlets of poetry from small presses which have been purchased thanks to a donation by Valerie Eliot. Eliot College on campus is, of course, named after T.S. Eliot and the University was lucky enough to benefit from Valerie’s philanthropy (including a bust of T.S. Eliot by Jacob Epstein) up until her death in 2012. Valerie Eliot’s work in securing her husband’s legacy is vital, but her generous gifts to the University have made a lifetime impact.

  • Catherine Crowe

F191840 – Cover of ‘The Night-Side of Nature’ by Catherine Crowe

Catherine Crowe (1790 – 1872) was a Kent-based author who spent a portion of her life in Edinburgh. Crowe’s fame was established through the publication of ‘The Adventures of Susan Hopley’ (1841, turned into a play in the same year) but it is her later supernatural work that’s garnered long-term recognition, particularly the novel ‘The Night-Side of Nature’ (1848). Crowe had a breakdown in 1854, and after this her creative output was little; however, she was one of the most popular Victorian writers during her life, and it’s a great shame she’s not been recognised widely since.

The University of Kent holds one of the few archives of material relating to Crowe; our Catherine Crowe Collection consists of material relating to Crowe collected by the researcher Geoffrey Larken. Larken wrote a draft autobiography of Crowe as a result of his research, but couldn’t find a publisher for it. In a typical archive twist, it’s now one of the most frequently asked-for items in our collections, with researchers travelling across the world to see it.

  • Flo (Andy Capp cartoons)

AC3803: ” ‘e’s the sort of bloke you want to bring ‘ome to ‘is mother”, 10 May 1970, Reg Smythe for the Daily Mirror

What would a list of SC&A women be without mentioning Reg Smythe’s eponymous long suffering character Flo, wife of the eternally lazy Andy Capp? Flo and Andy are part of one of the most popular British comic strips of all time; it’s been running in the Daily Mirror since 1957. Even though creator Reg Smythe died in 1998, artist Reg Mahoney has taken over as artist. Living in Hartlepool, Andy and Flo are working-class characters. Although there’s debate over how they represent stereotypes of everyday people (Andy doesn’t work and prefers to spend all his time in the pub), the strip has been hugely popular both in the UK and across the world.

The British Cartoon Archive holds over 4600 Andy Capp artworks, which are requested regularly for exhibition across the UK and world. There was even a musical version of Andy and Flo’s adventures, which was revived in 2016.

  • Lynne Parker (founder of the Funny Women comedy community)

Funny Women Awards 2016 poster

In 2002, Lynne Parker established the Funny Women comedy group, which aimed to support and celebrate women working in comedy. The group runs workshops, networking events, comedy classes/open mic nights, and an awards ceremony every year. If you’ve heard of Bridget Christie, Susan Calman, Katherine Ryan, Andi Osho, Kerry Godliman, Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons, Roisin Conaty, Holly Walsh or Sarah Millican then Funny Women has done its work – it has supported all of those comedians, plus many more.

In 2016 Lynne donated material relating to the Funny Women community to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive; it was catalogued last summer and everyone is welcome to view it. Lynne has also been a guest on our Stand-Up Comedy podcast discussing the work of Funny Women, so give it a listen!

  • Modern poetry and Crater Press writers

Anne Carson, Nox

Crater Press – Borthwick Riot Calendar

Verity Spott: Kate’s Dream Diamond Anti-Fatigue Matting Surface

There are so many fantastic women poets in our Modern Firsts Poetry collections, it’s impossible to pick just one out. We could focus on famous writers such as Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf or more contemporary poets like Denise Riley. We could look at the revolutionary, intersectional verse of Audre Lorde. We could discuss the political-personal work of Grace Lake or the genre-defying literature of Anne Carson. We could also look at the role smaller printing presses, like the Crater Press, have in disseminating women’s writing and the space it creates for new dialogues. Instead, however, how about you come in and explore these wonderful writers?

Other utterly fantastic women in the archives include: Josie Long (stand-up comedian), Grizelda (cartoonist), Nina Boucicault (actress), the many women of the Melville dynasty, Monica Bobinska (involved in the Meccano Club) and, of course, the many many actresses in our theatre collections. As ever, do get in touch if you’d like to know more or visit us. Happy International Women’s Day! 

7 top tips for finding Special Collections & Archives material through LibrarySearch

Although we’re not students any more, we can always tell when it’s deadline time at Kent. How? By the number of people visiting the library (and the queues at the café…)!

We thought we’d use this opportunity to wave our own flag and give you a quick refresher series on how to find material in our collections to really make your research stand-out. Today we’ll take a look at how to find Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) material through Kent’s Library catalogue, LibrarySearch:

1) Gather your locations

We have over 150 different collections here at Kent, and listings for these collections can be found in a number of different places: through LibrarySearch, on the SC&A website, via our Archive catalogue and through the British Cartoon Archive catalogue.

2) What’s on LibrarySearch?

Broadly speaking, items that are in book and playscript form can currently be found through LibrarySearch, which is the catalogue you (hopefully!) use to find books, e-books and journal articles here at Kent. We are working on making our archive collections findable through LibrarySearch soon, so check back for this.

3) Narrowing down results makes finding our material much quicker

Start by entering your search terms, then tick either ‘British Cartoon Archive’ or ‘Special Collections & Archives’ (or both) in the location box down the left-hand side. This will help narrow down the items LibrarySearch is exploring to only the material we hold.

Bonus tip: you can use the ‘sort by publication date – ascending’ to organise items so the oldest material will be the first thing you see. ‘Sort by publication date – descending’ will put the most recent items first.

4) Digitised or not digitised?

You’ll probably need to make an appointment to view items you find in LibrarySearch in our Reading Room. The majority of our windmill and playbill collections have been digitised, alongside artwork (not books or journals) from the British Cartoon Archive.

5) Get your orders in!

Once you’ve found an item, click on ‘Place Reservation’ (either the blue box next to the item summary or from the drop-down menu inside the item’s description) and select ‘Templeman Library’. Please note that at present, this option is only available to users who have a University of Kent login – if you’re visiting from elsewhere, jot down the reference numbers and details of the items you’d like to see and send us an email.

6) Make a date and come on in!

Special Collections & Archives staff check daily for any new requests that come our way via LibrarySearch, so we will send you an email once we’ve got your request. The email will confirm which items you’ve asked for and then ask when you’d like to come in to view material. It’s really important that you respond to this email as, unlike other Library items, you’ll need to make an appointment to visit. This is because all of our material is kept in secure stores and we need a little time in advance to get it ready. Check our website for when we’re open.

7) Know your limits (spoiler: there are none)

You can place as many requests for items you find in LibrarySearch as you like – there’s no maximum number. However, if you have a lot (more than about 5 things), we’ll probably check with you if there are any you’d like to see first, so you can get the most out of your time visiting us.

GA4085: Carl Giles - "Bennett, after diligent research into history, comes up with the illuminating observation that we have gone through 13 Prime Ministers since the birth of Donald Duck." 10 Jan 1980, Daily Express

GA4085: Carl Giles – “Bennett, after diligent research into history, comes up with the illuminating observation that we have gone through 13 Prime Ministers since the birth of Donald Duck.” 10 Jan 1980, Daily Express

…And one final tip:

8) Drop in if you need help

Although you need an appointment to view material in Special Collections & Archives, we are always happy to receive queries during our opening hours. If you’re having trouble finding material in our collections, or would simply like to know more about what we hold, please do drop into our Reading Room on the First Floor of Templeman A and say hello!

Snow in the archives: exploring the big freeze throughout our collections

Hello from a very wintery Canterbury! The SC&A team have been battling up the hill this week as 2018’s infamous ‘Beast From The East’ lands upon Kent.

Inevitably, this cold weather got us thinking about how snow has been represented throughout history, and it’s almost no surprise that the British fascination with bad weather spreads its icy tendrils through our collections (not literally, though!)…

Special Collections & Archives is known for our extensive archives of windmill photos from the 20th century, particularly the collections of the Muggeridges and C.P. Davies. Here, Muggeridge finds the ideal winter shot: a model of a post mill in Sussex that’s mostly buried by the white stuff…

UKC-MIL-MUG-BW.540246, ‘Black and white negative and print made from it of a model of a post mill with roundhouse in Outwood, Surrey, in Camelsdale, Sussex, taken on 22nd December 1938, showing a side view covered with snow’, Muggeridge Collections

Our Modern Firsts collection of poetry contains verses in almost every format and theme imaginable, and it’s there that some of the most interesting ideas about weather come to light. In his 1997 work ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, Peter Riley explores memories of place from a starting point of cold weather. The way that snow changes landscapes so completely is simulataneously refreshing, exciting and alien. Snow is also (in Britain at least) a hugely memorable event: we can all recall snow days, which are increasingly rare, particularly when we were young.

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, 1997, Shearsman Books

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: 'Snow has settled (...) bury me here', 1997, Shearsman Books

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, 1997, Shearsman Books

The dramatic elements of cold are frequently used in fiction to express mood, so it’s no surprise that the shock of the snow is also popular for playwrights. In 1862, Bristol’s Theatre Royal put on a multi-show performance that included an entertainment called ‘The Angel of Midnight, or, the Duel in the Snow’ set in Munich in 1750:

UKC-POS-BRSROY.0592650: Playbill advertising PEEP O’DAY and THE ANGEL OF MIDNIGHT at the Theatre Royal, Bristol, 21 April 1862

Our Pettingell collection is full of popular entertainments and melodramas from the Victorian era – you can see from the scripts why winter weather was a popular theme for audiences. Through the magic of scenery, audiences could be transported to far-off places like Russia or the Alps, where the characters were less familiar but the villains remained the same:

PETT B.53 SPEC COLL (059016100), 'The snow storm; or, Lowina of Tobolskow : a melodramatick romance', W. Barrymore, 1818

PETT B.53 SPEC COLL (059016100), ‘The snow storm; or, Lowina of Tobolskow : a melodramatick romance’, W. Barrymore, 1818

The Victorians were well known for developing stage effects. The lure of seeing spectacles frequently drew crowds to theatres long before movies, TV and the internet. What could be more exciting than seeing an avalanche live on stage?

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), 'Under the snow: in three acts', J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

Cartoonists, too, can use the weather to reflect goings-on in society. In 2016, Brian Adcock imagined what a certain blonde Republican presidential candidate would have to say…

BAD0244, ‘”If I was president I would have a total and compete shutdown of snow entering the United States”‘, 25 Jan 2016, The Independent

Because we all need a laugh more than ever when struggling with leaving the house, the job of a cartoonist becomes vital during the winter months. In the digital age, it’s probably easier for artists to email scans of their work in, but before that – spare a thought for Carl Giles:

GAPH00137, Black and white photo of Giles in the snow at Hillbrow Farm handing packaged artwork to helicopter pilot [Rob Flexman of Aeromega Helicopters], 17 Jan 1987, Express Newspapers

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we leave the job of summing up our feelings towards snow to the early 20th century cartoonist W.K. Haselden: it’s mighty pretty to look at but perhaps slightly less fun when we get stuck in it – literally…

WH2559: ‘Snow in poetry and reality’, 18 Jan 1926, Daily Mirror

All snow-related material described here can be found through either LibrarySearch, the Special Collections & Archives website or the British Cartoon Archive catalogue; all are welcome to come and explore weather-related adventures in our snow-free Reading Room.

Tiffin Scrapbooks

Jon Shepherd, Assistant Archivist in Special Collections & Archives until December 2017, writes:

The Tiffin Scrapbooks is a small collection of scrapbooks containing several hundred black and white and coloured images of windmills and cuttings mainly from around the county of Kent but also elsewhere in the UK and even from further afield in Europe.

The first scrapbook is titled ‘Windmills In Kent-past and present’ including photographs from the villages of Aldington in Mid Kent to Worthin East Kent.

This card is pasted into the front of MILL/TIFF/2
















Secondly there is a miscellaneous scrapbook which contains newspaper and magazine cuttings and postcards dating from the 1930s and covering the following English counties; Kent, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Oxfordshire as well as Anglesey, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, USA and Mykonos.

Articles from Tiffin scrapbook MILL/TIFF/3

Scrapbook three again covers the Windmills of Kent and was assembled in around 1935. It includes cuttings, photographs, maps, poems, lists, postcards, typescript text and cartoons. It includes items on windmills from the villages of Acrise in South Kent to Yalding in West Kent, as well as images of some other subjects.

This image is pasted into Tiffin Scrapbook MILL/TIFF/3

The fourth scrapbook contains a photographic record of all of the windmills in Kent that remained standing in the year 1931 taken by A. W. Tiffin This includes examples from the Kent villages of Ash in East Kent through to Woodchurch in South Kent.

The last scrapbook is known as the Lancaster Burne Album and includes 261 pages of cuttings, postcards, adverts, photos and manuscript notes regarding windmills that can be found from Argos Hill to Zoandam. It includes windmills in Kent, West Sussex, East Sussex, Surrey, Holland, Belgium and France.

The collection can be browsed via the online catalogue via https://archive.kent.ac.uk/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=MILL%2fTIFF.

If you would like to take a closer look at any of these five items and their fascinating images of windmills then please get in contact with us on specialcollections@kent.ac.uk or +44 (0)1227 82 3127.