Official Opening of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre

Yesterday, 9th May 2019, saw the official opening of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre on campus. The opening ceremony itself included speeches from the Centre’s director, Kennetta Hammond Perry, the Vice Chancellor Professor Andy Collop and Baroness Doreen Lawrence who went on to cut the orange ribbon before leading a tour around the Centre.

The Centre features a seminar room and communal study space as well as a permanent exhibition telling the story of Stephen’s life and murder and the legacy of Doreen Lawrence’s tireless work to achieve justice for her son by challenging the racially prejudiced frameworks inherent to the UK’s social infrastructure and criminal justice system.

Open to the public and featuring items from the archival collection, the work of the Centre aims to “drive forward conversations that will shape and influence how we think about race and social justice. It intends to honour the enduring legacy of Stephen Lawrence’s life and his family’s ongoing pursuit of justice by asking new questions, debating critical issues, raising awareness, and advocating to bring about positive change.”

And with that in mind, the evening progressed with a panel discussion including special guests Afua Hirsch, writer, broadcaster and barrister, Jack Straw politician and Home Secretary (1997-2001) who launched the Inquiry which led to the publication of the Macpherson Report, and Benjamin Zephaniah writer and poet.
















It was a real privilege to listen to the panel discuss issues and experiences surrounding race and representation, the problems with language and the current use of BAME and its homogenizing othering effect, the challenges facing young black people today in terms of opportunities and attainment and the great deal of work still needed to build an equal society without racial prejudice.

The panel was followed by the opportunity to talk further during the reception which included food, a steel band, and the DMU Gospel Choir

Through the generosity of Baroness Lawrence in depositing her papers and materials relating to the Stephen Lawrence case at DMU in 2016, Special Collections was able to contribute to the opening by creating 3 exhibition cases for guests to see further items from the archive.






















It was a proud moment for our Archives Manager, Katharine, and the Special Collections team to finally see the launch of the Centre.

The archival catalogue is currently closed but it is hoped access arrangements will be finalised over the summer and the collection made available to the public at Special Collections at DMU and through our online catalogue.

The opening of the Centre is a historical moment for DMU and its commitment to the legacy of Stephen Lawrence in the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice which at Special Collections we are very proud to be a part.

The Special Collections team

International Women’s Day 2019

To celebrate #IWD2019, in collaboration with the DMU’s Equality and Diversity Team, we have created a display to acknowledge the invaluable contributions made by female staff and students at DMU and its predecessors through their work and commitment to various campaigns. As well as acknowledging the work of individuals, the display recognises the achievements of the institution in promoting equality of opportunity in professional development for staff and learning for students but also its historical contribution to gender imparity.

Foregrounding DMU’s female narrative, we support the call for change in line with the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality to recognise the work and contributions made by women in the private and public sphere.

The exhibition will be on display in the Campus Centre from today 8th until 15th March 2019.

Look out for a follow-up post from our Frontrunner Melissa next week explaining her archival research experience in creating the exhibition.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone !!!

Digital Detox 2019

From 16th – 21st January 2019 as a part of the #HealthyDMU campaign we will be closing all our social media channels in support of the #Digital Detox to promote an awareness of the impact of unrestrained social media use on mental wellbeing. For more info on the campaign and a DMU campus wellbeing schedule click here

Take this opportunity to be like Nelly doing a spot of bird watching: ‘Glad are the robins up in the trees, having a good time swayed by the breeze.’ Not a phone in sight!
























As our DMUVC says, this is about recalibrating our relationship with social media rather than giving it up altogether.

Enjoy and see you Tuesday,


Norwegian Constitution Day

Today, 17th May, is Norway’s national day! An official public holiday, the day celebrates Norway’s recognition as an independent kingdom from when the constitution was declared in 1814.

The archives team here has fond memories of Norway and so to mark the day we thought we would share this beautiful headscarf from the Ski Club of Great Britain Collection.

 As the accompanying text, written by Arnold Lunn explains, the scarf was presented to the wife of the president of the Ski Club in 1946 at Holmenkollen, the first post-war skiing gathering. The text is incredibly poignant, moving, and evocative of a significant moment in history at a local, national and international level.


#FolkloreThursday 08/02/2018: “the course of true love never did run smooth”

For this week’s #FolkloreThurdsay #Love theme we thought we’d add an extra dimension of our own by sharing some of the symbolic representations of love we found while exploring our collections.

As we know from any contemporary perfume advertisement, a pleasing aroma is key to attraction and romance but its association with courtship can be found in ancient writings. According to George Barbier, author of The Romance of Perfume, 1928, the Greek biographer Plutarch, said “the soul of a man in love is full of perfumes and sweet odours”

Judging from the illustrations then, women are not blessed with the innate gift of their love giving off a sweet odour and instead had to rely on the perfume seller!

Now on to medieval times, when the ladies would present knights with their jewels as tokens of their affection before their loved ones went into battle, as William Jones explains in Precious Stones Their History and Mystery, 1880.

The story of the Lady of Astolat who later dies from unrequited love was the inspiration for many artworks and literature, including Tennyson’s 1833 poem The Lady Of Shallot, and John William Waterhouse’s painting of the same name, 1888.

What discussion of romance and love symbolism would be complete without considering plants and flowers. The Flora Symbolica or the language and sentiment of flowers by John Ingram c 1870 acknowledges that there are many different types of love: bashful, pure, hopeful, silent, concealed, unrequited, etc. etc. and they can all fortunately be  symbolised with the presentation of a specific flower.

The rose is the flower most associated with romantic love.

And of course, the secret to true love, according to Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream also lies in a potion that can be extracted from the purple, yellow and white flower known as love-in-idleness:

If nothing else writing this post has highlighted the history of traditional Valentine gifts: flowers, perfume and jewellery – I just needed chocolate for a bit of completionism!


Folklore Thursday 18/01/2018

What an amazing theme for #FolkloreThursday this week! Requests for #clothing lore makes for the perfect opportunity to highlight this wonderful poster set produced by the International Wool Secretariat in 1954, titled ‘Costumes of Europe in Wool’.

Each beautifully illustrated poster, while offering somewhat stereotypical representations of European nationalities, is accompanied by explanatory text on the types of wool used (of course) and the costumes, shedding some light on the meanings and traditions behind the garments.

For Norway, we are told that the mountainous regions between villages meant that inhabitants of the  valleys rarely saw each other. This led to communities developing their own distinct traditions and costumes making for a bit of decorative rivalry.

In Austria, we discover that the origin of the phrase ‘a feather in his cap’ is associated with the Tyrol-style hat. Wrestlers in the region would fight wearing their hats and attempt to pin their opponent while plucking the feather from their hat. The acquired feather would then become a symbol of the victorious combat.

In Portugal, a fisherman’s hat is of the utmost importance as his woollen “pyjama-like” garments have no pockets. Prudently, small personal items “such as matches and tobacco” are stored safely in his thick woollen cap away from the water.

Handed down through generations of Flemish families, a mother teaches her daughter the tradition of lace-making in the poster for Belgium.

The collection was used as a fashion and textiles teaching resource and were held in the DMU library before being transferred to the archive.

Let’s get knitting!


Folklore Thursday 11/01/2018

As collections of European folk songs and poems, books on Nursery Rhymes became popular during the golden age of children’s literature in the mid-nineteenth century but many of the rhymes themselves are much older. Full of working-class imagery and trades they are the perfect subject for this week’s #folklorethursday theme of #work.

From Little Song of long Ago, Illustrated by H. Willebeek Le Mair1912


From Old King Cole’s Book of Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Byam Shaw, 1901.


From Mother Goose, Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, c 1880.


From Young England’s Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Constance Haslewood, c 1890.