Identities and identification in the Liberation Collection

Earlier this year, Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey spoke about the visual side of the peerless Liberation Collection he has donated to the University Library.  This post, however, focuses on an unillustrated book whose interest, certainly for me as a librarian, lies in the identity of the author.

An important part of cataloguing work in the Library is what we call authority work – adding or editing records for people for the master authority file hosted by the Library of Congress.  Each record provides a unique main heading for an individual (eg Hugo, Victor, 1802-1885) and cites books where this and other forms of names appear.  By using this unique heading in a catalogue record, all works by or about someone will file together in a library index even if the person’s name might appear differently in each separate book (eg V. Hugo).

Many of the books in the Liberation Collection need this authority work.  More often than not, a new authority needs to be created.  Sometimes the author has a record already but we need to update it to note a different form of the name.  On the odd occasion, the book we are looking at is on such a different topic to those cited in the writer’s authority record that without further investigation we might assume that our author is someone different.

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Talk on the Liberation Collection, 22nd February

Originally posted on the Special Collections blog:

On Thursday 22nd February Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey will give a talk to the Cambridge Bibliographical Society on ‘The power of the image in liberated France, 1944-46’.

His talk is inspired by imagery from the collection he has put together (recently presented to the University Library) on the German occupation of France during the war and its liberation by the allied forces. Beautiful books began to be published immediately after the liberation of Paris in August 1944 even though the war was still being fought in France. Once Paris was free and the Vichy government had collapsed, censorship came to an end, and it is the immediacy of this response and the quality of the books themselves that makes this period so interesting for the history of the book.

Talk starts at 17.00. Tea from 16.30 before the talk.

Free event, no booking required. Members and non-members of Cambridge Bibliographical Society welcome.

Milstein Seminar Rooms, Cambridge University Library
Thursday, 22 February, 2018
17.00-18.00

All welcome; booking not required

Victoire, numéro special (Paris, 1945)

Lyon dans les chaînes, or how to illustrate suffering beautifully

Lyon_chaines_plate4

Liberation.a.60

Lyon dans les chaînes (Liberation.a.60) is a wonderfully illustrated account of the occupation and liberation of the city of Lyon by journalist Pierre Scize. This large volume, held at Cambridge University Library as part of the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection, has an extensive number of coloured lithographs “printed under the surveillance of the artist”, Julien Pavil. The 625 copies of the work were produced between 15 December 1944 and 29 June 1945, which tells us a great deal about the effort and dedication the French were willing to put into book publishing after the Liberation. Continue reading

Radio broadcasting and the war

“La chanson des V”. Beethoven’s famous 5th symphonie start was the signature tune for the BBC programme “Les Français parlent aux français”. The rythm of its first four notes equals the letter “V” (for Victory) in morse code. Liberation.b.34

The powerful role of radio propaganda during World War II cannot be overestimated. Information was transmitted quickly to vast populations across borders, overpassing enemy lines. In the UK, the BBC would broadcast in several languages, including French of course, and would even send secret messages to the French Resistance in the form of apparently senseless phrases. The Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection has several publications related to this topic, some of them particularly fascinating.

Maurice Van Moppès was an illustrator, Free France member and broadcaster who worked for “Les Français parlent aux français”, one of the BBC radio programmes that transmitted news from the Front (for more on this check the 5 volumes of Ici Londres, 1940-1944: les voix de la liberté, 539:1.b.820.2-6). The programme was also supposed to boost the French people’s morale and send code messages to the Résistance. Continue reading

Constantin Joffé: the fate of a prisoner-of-war

Liberation.c.930

Liberation.c.930

One of the most striking aspects of the Liberation Collection is the huge number of books consisting of personal narratives, containing the memories of people involved in and affected by World War II. Through dealing with these books one becomes very intrigued by and connected with their authors, their experiences and their suffering. Instances of personal narratives in the Liberation Collection vary widely, in terms of the backgrounds to which the authors belonged, in terms of the topics they choose to address or the quality of the publications themselves. But they all share a deeply human and personal view of the tragic conflict. Here is one example. Continue reading