An A to Z exhibition: Agriculture to Zoology and beyond

bloch toad fish

The ever-beautiful toad fish, from the 1796 Ichthyologie, ou, Histoire naturelle des poissons (COLE—X394)

Our library and archives hold a wide range of collections that touch on many of the areas studies here at the University and beyond. From law material to zoology, agriculture to English and education to typography, we have something for everyone! To showcase the breadth, we have a new exhibition here at Special Collections that includes items selected from across our collections.

Henry II charter1

A 12th-century charter of Henry II to the Abbey of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte (MS 1488)

One case is dedicated to the story of the University itself, showcasing Reading’s tradition of academic excellence back to the late 19th century, when the Schools of Art and Science was established in Reading. These became part of an extension college opened in 1892 by Christ Church, Oxford. Three years later the local Palmer family, of the famous biscuit manufacturer Huntley & Palmers, donated the London Road site – and later this building in which MERL and Special Collections are now housed (originally Alfred Palmer’s house), which became the first Hall of Residence for women. We received a Royal Charter in 1926, the only university to do so between the two world wars, and in 1947 we purchased our main Whiteknights campus, the former country estate of the Marquis of Blandford.

Other cases explore the sciences, social sciences and humanities. An 18th-century text on the history of fish sits beside a 12th-century charter of Henry II to the Abbey of St Sauveur-le-Vicomte; a 1950s guide to sign lettering for the Festival of Britain complements the 19th-century Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones; and a theatre programme for a Japanese production of Waiting for Godot in 1994 is matched by a signed letter from WB Yeats.

Owen Jones

The grammar of ornament, by Owen Jones (PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO–745-JON)

The exhibition will be on display at the Special Collections Service from until 30 September 2013.

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