Remote Access and your Dissertation

We’ve posted before about how to use Special Collections and Archives for your dissertation, and shared suggestions of collections we hold that could provide the basis for a fantastic dissertation.

Of course, this year has been a bit different, and while we hope to welcome you all back to our reading room soon, in the meantime you might be interested to know you can still access our content using our Virtual Reading Room service.

However we appreciate that you might find it easier just now to work from resources which are remotely accessible, and so we wanted to highlight the following content from our collections, all of which is available online.

In addition to the resources below, you may want to explore our main online portal for digital content, CollectionsCaptured, or our range of dedicated online resources.

If you have any questions about these resources, or using Special Collections and Archives more generally, you can get in touch with us using Library Help.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #1: Gertrude Bell Archive

Photograph of a group of riders on camels with the Pyramids in the background.
A group of attendees at the 1921 Cairo Conference on camels, including Gertrude Bell, Sir Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence. (GB/PERS/F/002)

Gertrude Bell was an archaeologist, explorer and diplomat in the early 20th Century. Bell initially travelled in the Middle East to support her interest in archaeology, and gained substantial knowledge of languages and Arab cultures. This led to British Intelligence asking her to support their work with her knowledge of the region and the people who lived there during the First World War. After the war, Bell continued to work in a diplomatic position, and was extremely influential in the establishment of Modern day Iraq. 

Bell frequently wrote to her family at home, as well as keeping extensive diaries and taking many photographs. Copies of the photographs and transcripts of the diaries and letters are freely available on a dedicated website.

Visit the Gertrude Bell website to explore her diaries, letters and photographs.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #2: Broadsides

Poster illustrative of items in the Broadside Collection.
Poster advertising the Annual General Meeting of the North Shields and Tynemouth Association for Prosecuting Felons in 1816 (Broadsides 5/1/9)

‘Broadside’ is a term applied to cheaply printed, single sided sheets of paper. Often used to convey news or political opinions, they are a valuable insight into popular culture. Special Collections and Archives has a substantial collection of mostly 19th Century Broadsides, most of which are digitized and available to view and search online. The majority of them were produced here in the North East, and provide a fascinating insight into contemporary concerns and local events, but also how information was communicated. As well as electioneering ephemera and propaganda, the broadsides include reward notices for the capture of criminals, announcements of events, and entertainment in the form of comic and tragic songs, known as ‘Broadside Ballads’.

Visit CollectionsCaptured to search and browse our Broadsides. 

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #3: Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book

Handwritten page from Jane Loraine's recipe book.
A page from Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book including recipes for clotted cream and almond cream (MISC.MSS 5 pg 13)

Dating from the 1680s this manuscript (handwritten) recipe book includes recipes for food and medicinal products. The handwriting suggests multiple authors, but the majority has been attributed to Jane Loraine, a member of the Loraine family from Kirkharle, in Northumberland. The value of recipe books as sources for subjects beyond food history is still being explored, but it provides opportunities to explore subjects as diverse as gender issues (as examples of women’s writing) and empire (exploring ingredient availability).

Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book is available in full on CollectionsCaptured, but has also been adapted into a searchable digital edition which provides transcripts, contextual information and signposts wider reading.

Visit the Digital Edition to explore the recipe book in more detail.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #4: Local Illustrations

Hand drawn illustation from the Local Illustration Collection.
Illustration of the interior of Newcastle Central Station dating from the 19th Century. (ILL/11/240)

Our Local Illustration Collection brings together engravings and other illustrations from the 18th and 19th Century which depict landmarks and landscapes from the North East. They offer the opportunity to explore changes in the region during a period of vast technological change, but also how urban and rural landscapes were depicted. Insights into contemporary society can also be taken from the figures which appear in the images.

Visit Collections Captured to browse the images in this collection.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #5: Trevelyan Family Albums

Album page containing photographs of cats, a newspaper clipping and ticket for an event.
Page from one of the albums of Charles Philips Trevelyan including photographs and ephemera collated between 1904 and 1906. (CPT/PA/3 pg. 27)

The Trevelyan family were based at Wallington Hall Northumberland, now a National Trust property. The property was donated to the Trust by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, a Member of Parliament, Education Secretary and campaigner against Britain’s involvement in World War I. Trevelyan’s wife Mary Trevelyan (nee Bell – half-sister of Gertrude Bell), kept family photograph albums and scrapbooks from the late 19th Century until her death in 1965. They provide an insight into the life of a politically active landed family in the North East in the early 20th Century. The albums offer the opportunity to explore gender roles and childhood in the aristocracy, travel and empire (through albums depicting Charles’ ‘Grand Tour’ to North America, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand) and the activity of collecting and memorialising family life.

Many of the photograph albums can be browsed and text searched on our Page Turners platform, and cover nearly 70 years of family life.

Visit our webpages for direct links to each album on Page Turners.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #6: Bloodaxe Books Archive

Front cover of a book.
Front cover of When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List Of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen, published in 2019 by Bloodaxe Books. (BXB 811.6 CHE)

Newcastle University acquired the archive of Bloodaxe Books in 2013, an archive dating back to 1978 and the beginnings of this internationally important poetry publisher. The Poetics of the Archive offers innovative ways to explore digitised content from this archive. Through BOOKS, you can browse a library of Bloodaxe’s titles and a wealth of digitised poetry in process towards its final published form. WORDS uses the text of the digitized items to suggest links, whilst SHAPES allows you to view or interact with the shape poems make on the page. DATA takes you beyond this archive to discover where else Bloodaxe authors have been published. In the GALLERY and RESEARCH sections you will be able to link to new works that animate and respond creatively to the archive (interviews, films, photos, artwork, texts).

Visit the dedicated website to explore this resource.

Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #7: Courier Archive

Front page of an issue of The Courier Newspaper.
Front page of The Courier (an independent newspaper produced by Newcastle University students) published on 7th July 2014. (Courier/2014/07/07 pg. 1)

The Courier Archive is a website containing over 70 years of back issues of Newcastle University’s student paper, The Courier. All the issues are text searchable and downloadable as PDFs. They provide the opportunity to explore campus life at the University, but also to track wider social change.

Visit the Courier Archive website to explore this resource.

17th Century Snow Cream Recipe

Door No. 5

To make Snow Cream recipe from Jane Loraine’s recipe book (Miscellaneous Manuscript, Misc MSS 5)

Fancy making ‘Snow Cream’ the 17th Century way. Well, here’s how;

Take thick cream of the evening milk put to it a little sugar and some rose water, then put it into silver basin or a wooden bowl and with a little rod make a little brush and beat it with good strength and as you see it rising to froth put it with the rod into the other side of the bowl from the plate where you beat it and when you have a good deal made into froth take it up with a skimmer and as fast as you lay it into your cream bowls throw searced double refined sugar upon it, and when you have taken up as much froth as yohave that made, that fall to beats in your cream again so do till yohave made your dish of cream as big as you will have it that is done

This recipe is part of a larger recipe book that was created by a number of people including the manuscript’s owner, Jane Loraine. The recipes are culinary, medicinal and cosmetic. The manuscript is an excellent example of the kinds of knowledge and expertise that women in an early modern household needed during the 17th Century.

Find out more about Jane Lorraine’s recipe book here and find more recipes from the Jane Lorraine Recipe book in this digital edition.

Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book – a more in-depth look – Oct 2011

Page 32 from Jane Lorraine's Recipe Book on how to make 'Carraway Cakes', 'Sugar Plait' and other recipes
Page 32 from Jane Lorraine’s Recipe Book on how to make ‘Carraway Cakes’, ‘Sugar Plait’ and other recipes (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Misc. MSS. 5)

This additional treasure of the month has been provided by Catherine Alexander, a student in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, who has recently completed a summer research project based around a seventeenth-century recipe book, held in Special Collections.

This is a seventeenth century cook book manuscript, written by Jane Loraine, who lived in Northumberland. She is likely to have been the wife of Nicholas Loraine, son of Ambrose Loraine of Hartburn, and probably a member of the Fenwick family. The cook book is firmly rooted in Northumberland, and there are extensive records of the Loraine family in Kirkharle. Reference to individuals also demonstrates a local community; in this recipe Mrs Charleton’s surname locates her in Charlton, near Bellingham in North Tynedale. There are 67 recipes attributed to 41 individuals in this cook book, only 13 of whom are men.

Recipe: To maike mackrowns page 31
fol. 24V

25 Mackrowns Mrs Charletons       this
Take 4 new Laid eggs beat them a quarter of an houre in a glased earthen pot put to them ten spoun fulls of rose water beat it a quarter of an houre longer then put six spounfuls more of rose water beat it a quarter or an hour Longer then put one pound of lose sugar down weight finely beaten beat it halfe an houre Longer then put in halfe a pound of London flower beat it till it is well mixt butter your cofins deep in a good spounfull set them in as fast as you can let your oven be as hot as for white bread it must be A clay oven

The manuscript, in folio format, is 78 pages long and contains 665 recipes. The page numbering, added later, shows missing pages.

The annotation beside the recipe title: ‘this‘, shows use of the book and the selection process for the contents page.

Page 31 from Jane Lorraine's Recipe Book on how to make 'Macrowns'
Page 31 from Jane Lorraine’s Recipe Book on how to make ‘Macrowns’ (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Misc. MSS. 5)

This manuscript is typical in its medical emphasis and over half of the recipes are medical, while only a quarter are culinary. These food recipes focus on cakes, creams and preserves, while the medical receipts cover a range of illnesses, focusing on common concerns such as consumption, and women’s health, particularly childbirth. There are also some recipes for beauty treatments and perfumes. Nine percent of the recipes represent the overlap between food and health, in the waters and wines which function as drinks as well as preventative medicines and cures.

Page 66 from Jane Lorraine's Recipe Book showing multiple recipes for a common cold or cough
Page 66 from Jane Lorraine’s Recipe Book showing multiple recipes for a common cold or cough (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Misc. MSS. 5)

This hybridity has an impact on the domestic roles of women, as they commanded authority on medical as well as culinary issues.

Many parallels and similarities can be seen with other cook book manuscripts and printed texts at this time, and this manuscript is part of a widespread communication of ideas and advice. This genre was popular in the seventeenth century and gave women a literary voice.

Page 65 from Jane Lorraine's Recipe Book showing multiple recipes for a consumption
Page 65 from Jane Lorraine’s Recipe Book showing multiple recipes for a consumption (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Misc. MSS. 5)

Collaboration is also typical within the recipe book format, and this can be seen through reference to individuals as well as in the six different handwritings identifiable in the text. The secretary hand which dominates 70% of the text can be associated with Jane Loraine, through the 13 signatures given. Many of these are dated between 1684-6.

See the full digitised version of Jane Loraine’s recipe book available on CollectionsCaptured.

Further information and transcriptions have been provided by the School of English and are available online.