London South Bank University (LSBU) launches its online archives catalogue to facilitate the first ever global access to historical records which depict life as a higher education student in South East (SE) London over a century ago, on Thursday 30 September, 2010.
The introduction of the catalogue is part of LSBU's Archive Centre launch and includes 1,500 items dating back to the University's inception in 1892.
Until now, LSBU's archive collection, which holds the key to the history of higher education in SE London, has remained locked away in a secure repository. The online catalogue makes this history accessible to the public for the first time.
The collection consists of photographs, student magazines, press cuttings, trophies, annual reports and building models, which trace the history of the University and the education and training needs of the community it serves.
For instance, it tracks the University pioneering specialist courses such as petrol motor mechanics in the 1900s, heating and ventilating engineering in the 1920s and nuclear power in the 1950s. It also includes artefacts recording the UK's first engineering course for women in the 1920s and one of the UK's first nursing degrees in 1974, along with a photo of the Duke of York (who later became King of England) visiting a baking class in 1930. Back in the late 1890s, the popular baking class attracted students from Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
As South East London's largest and oldest provider of higher education, LSBU's historical records also provide a snapshot of the cultural and economic environment at the time. For example, the collection's pre-1917 photographs include images of Victorian students baking bread which reflect the era's focus on providing theoretical and practical instruction in trades which were common in the local area.
Another depicts students starching collars, mirroring the demand for well-trained domestic staff in London's middle-class homes at the time. While another image captures female students vaulting in the gymnasium wearing long heavy skirts showing that despite the weighed down and restricting attire, well-being of the body and mind through exercise was highly valued at the time.
These images also reflect the original aim of the University, which was 'to promote the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women'. This theme continues throughout the periods covered in the collection and continues to ring true today. LSBU's current mission is to "create professional opportunity for all who can benefit" and its close industry links continue to ensure its professional courses mirror real-world developments.
Commenting on the launch of the University Archive Centre and the online catalogue, Elizabeth Harper, LSBU's archivist says:
"It's really exciting to enable our students, staff and the general public to have access to some of the striking documents and photographs that we have in the archive. The preserved documentation shows how LSBU has always provided professional skills and qualifications which reflect the economic needs of its local area. The archives collection demonstrates the institution's credibility and relevance throughout its history, including significant past achievements and present developments.
"We encourage anyone who has an interest in history or an affiliation with LSBU to visit the online catalogue - you may even find a long lost photo of someone you know."
The online catalogue will be available from 30th September 2010 and can be found at www.lsbu.ac.uk/archivescatalogue
Posted: 27th September 2010