The ever-expanding Turnbull collections

We’ve been keeping busy

Another year has flown by here at the National Library! As we usher in 2014, the Arrangement and Description Team at the Alexander Turnbull Library wanted to highlight just a few of the more than 300 unpublished collections that we’ve described, created records, and developed finding aids for in the past year.

A collection can be just a single item, like Richard Sewell’s Argo diary, received this past year, or it could be dozens of boxes containing a mix of papers, photographs, ephemera, artwork, videos, CDs, floppy disks, and more.

Some of the collections we’ve arranged and described this year aren’t physical collections at all, but rather collections of unique born-digital materials, like Microsoft Word files, databases, digital photographs, political cartoons, and much more.

Librarian Catherine Bisley examines a photograph album, using a magnifying glass.Librarian Catherine Bisley examines a photograph album relating to the Clarke family: friends, trips and tennis (Ref: PA1-o-1817). Photo by Valerie Love.

Here’s a look back at just a few of the collections we’ve worked on in 2013, which are now available to researchers.

Dame Judith Binney Te Tomairangi o te Aroha Papers


Judith Binney’s index cards (Series 1 – Index cards), which she used to note sources, provide a detailed record of her preliminary and ongoing research work around particular research interests. Photo by Merryn McAulay.

Comprising 263 folders and 15 linear metres of shelf space in the stacks, this collection contains extensive research notes and working papers relating to Binney’s long and illustrious career as a historian. Of particular significance are materials relating to her highly-praised work on Thomas Kendall, Rua Kenana, Te Kooti Rikirangi Turuki, and the history of the Urewera region and Tuhoe.

Stout Family Papers


Tim Lovell-Smith organises correspondence from the Stout Family Papers, which is spread across a large table.Research Librarian Tim Lovell-Smith organises correspondence from the Stout Family Papers. Photo by Valerie Love.

This collection is made up of 164 folders relating to Sir Robert and Lady Anna Stout, their children, and other family members. Sir Robert Stout was the 13th Premier of New Zealand from 1884 to 1887, Chief Justice of New Zealand from 1899 to 1926, and a strong supporter of women’s suffrage and women’s property rights. The papers comprise correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, newspaper cuttings, and published papers by and relating to Stout and his family.

Poul Gnatt Papers


Danish dancer Poul Gnatt founded and served as director for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which in 2013 celebrated its 60th anniversary. The 102 folders in the collection contain correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, music and production materials relating to his career in ballet, and also papers from his family life. One folder, fMS-Papers-11499-14, even contains X-rays of Poul Gnatt’s knees. The collection provides a rich collection of material about a dominant figure in the history of ballet in New Zealand.

William Burt Chatham Islands Collection


Burt was the radio operator for the Chatham Islands Radio (ZLC) the coast radio station which was located near Waitangi on Chatham Island. The radio station was managed by the Post & Telegraph Department and apart from receiving and transmitting telegraphs, the radio station also provided important assistance to New Zealand's coastal waters and the South Pacific, and received mayday calls from distressed ships. The majority of the papers relate directly to the Chatham Islands, however the collection also provides a wonderful insight into the history of the Coast Radio Station Service in New Zealand.

Librarian Win Lynch studies a panoramic negative to add further detail to records. The negative covers a large light box.Librarian Win Lynch studies a panoramic negative to add further detail to records for the Robert Percy Moore Panoramic Photographs of New Zealand collection (Ref: PA-Group-00376). Photo by Valerie Love.

WWI soldier’s diary belonging to Sidney James Anton


Sidney James Anton was on the transport ship Tahiti, whose crew contracted influenza during a stop in Sierra Leone. He provides a detailed and grim view of the epidemic, stating, “it affects one, with headaches, sore throats, all muscles and limbs aching”. In his entry for 1 September 1918, he elaborated, “sickness not yet abated, lot in very low condition, 4 deaths during night, man jumped overboard, rescued doing well”. His diary records 75 deaths onboard the Tahiti before its arrival in Britain.

Charles Butcher Lantern Slides of New Zealand and Australia


Lantern slides from the Charles Butcher collection on the light box.Lantern slides from the Charles Butcher collection on the light box in the Arrangement and Description workspace. Photograph by Valerie Love.

Containing 118 glass lantern slides in total, some of which have been hand-coloured, this collection includes 26 slides from the 1906/07 New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch. The exhibition slides feature images of attractions such as the model Maori Pa and the air car it could be viewed from, fun park rides (including the roller coaster, water slide, and Helter Skelter ride!), a camel far from home, and exhibition buildings. There are a number of shots showing the complex lit up at night. The final slide in the group shows the demolition of the buildings. Also in the collection are 14 slides of kauri felling in the Waipoua Forest, ships, and scenic shots from around New Zealand.

Photographs relating to the Rugby World Cup 2011


This is a collection of 1306 digital photographs taken from 2008 to 2011. The images document the planning and delivery of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, and include photographs of organisational events and functions, media conferences, sponsor launches, volunteers and board members, and stadiums. It records not only the social impact of a major sporting event, but a significant social media marketing campaign undertaken by Rugby New Zealand 2011. Notably some images were taken on a mobile phone, some of the first in Turnbull acquisitions. Please note these photographs are only viewable in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room.

Librarian Merryn McAulay works with rugby photos from 1928, examining one closely with white gloves on.Librarian Merryn McAulay works with rugby photos from the British Lions tours to New Zealand and All Blacks visits to the United Kingdom in the Sir Terence Power McLean Collection (Refs: PA-Group-00708 and MS-Group-1953). Photo by Valerie Love.

Portrait of Hamiora Maioha, ca 1890, by Gottfried Lindauer

We have new information about the authenticity of this painting, you can find further details about this in Chalk, lead and titanium, a blog post by Chief Librarian Chris Szekely.

Portrait of a Māori man with moko and a hei tiki by Gottfried Lindauer.Gottfried Lindauer, Hamiora Maioha, ca 1890. Ref: G-479.

Although the identity of the sitter is uncertain, previous owners have named him as Hamiora Maioha, of Ngāpuhi, and further research is being carried out by Library staff to uncover more information. The subject displays fine tattooing, and wears a korowai, tiki and huia feathers. This work will sit together with the two other original portraits of Māori by Lindauer that are held in the Library’s collections. We hope that the work will eventually be included as part of the Lindauer Online website, established by the Auckland Art Gallery and featuring Lindauer's celebrated 19th century Māori portraits.

Papers of John Cawte Beaglehole and his family


Head and shoulders portrait of John Cawte Beaglehole, 1950. He is wearing glasses and carried a pipe.John Cawte Beaglehole, 1950. Ref: PAColl-6203-50.

Upon completing his book, ‘I think I am becoming a New Zealander’: Letters of J.C. Beaglehole, Professor Tim Beaglehole deposited a large collection of his father's papers with the Library. The collection has been organised into 19 series, reflecting stages of J.C. Beaglehole's life and career: in the public service, as a university teacher, historical scholar, and leader in the social and cultural life of New Zealand. The collection includes much correspondence (personal and professional), examples of typography, and large numbers of papers relating to James Cook and the exploration of the Pacific.

Papers relating to Falema'i Lesa and New Zealand citizenship


Falema'i Lesa having just won her case for citizenship with the Privy Council, 1982. She looks happy.Falema'i Lesa having just won her case for citizenship with the Privy Council, 1982. Ref: EP/1982/2359-F.

This collection of Barrister George Rosenberg’s papers relates to Falema'i Lesa’s successful appeal to the Privy Council, which overturned her visa overstay conviction. It includes papers of the Special Committee on Overstayers in 1970s-80s and Rosenberg’s legal research papers. The ruling handed down by the Privy Council led to the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982, providing New Zealand citizenship to all Western Samoan citizens who were in New Zealand on 14 September 1982 or those who arrived in New Zealand as permanent residents after that date.

Ready for research

These collections (and a whole lot more!) are now available to researchers, and are accessible in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room on Level 1, or oversized items in the Charles Heaphy Room on Level 2 of the National Library.

Kirsty Cox, Research Librarian for Digital Materials, works with electronic files at her computer.Kirsty Cox, Research Librarian for Digital Materials, works with electronic files from St. Aidan’s Church (Ref: MS-Group-2084). Photo by Valerie Love.

For more information, contact our friendly Research Enquiries staff to get the most out of your visit.

By Valerie Love

Valerie is the Senior Digital Archivist at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Post a Comment

(will not be published) * indicates required field

Be the first to comment.