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Hocken thanks the public for year of artistic and historical donations

The Hocken Library

Tuesday 13 December 2016 12:29pm

Sharon Dell
Sharon Dell, Hocken Librarian

Recent public donations to the Hocken Library, including World War 2 letters in German, works by Frances Hodgkins Fellows, an early 1960 Mount Cook Air Services poster, and early farm implement catalogues, were celebrated last Friday.

“It is important for us to acknowledge the generosity of the Hocken community. It began with Hocken himself and has continued for over 100 years,” says Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell.

“Donations are vital to the Hocken, with its plethora of collections that cover more than a century of Otago history. Every year well over a hundred people donate books, magazines, newspapers, pictures, photographs, maps, music, ephemera, archives and personal papers to the Hocken. They are individuals, families and organisations who value research and history and want to make this material available for present and future generations of researchers.

“The Hocken collections would be unable to maintain their relevance to the communities that it serves without this kind of support. While the operational budget and acquisition of books are covered by the University of Otago, the purchase of unpublished material, which includes art, photographs and archives, are reliant on Trust funds established by past benefactors.”

The Hocken Collections are used for research in many different ways. Each year (since 2009) an average of 224 books, brochures, conference proceedings, journal articles, theses, exhibitions, exhibition catalogues, reports, websites, displays, plays, films and television programmes are produced making substantial use of the Collections.

Recent donors attended an evening “thank you” function at the Hocken on Friday, December 9. There, they were also able to look at one part of the exhibition “Undreamed of… 50 years of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship”, the other part being hosted at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Ms Dell noted: “It has been a highlight for the Hocken to receive generously donated works by three Fellows during the Fellowship’s 50th anniversary year.”

Archives and Manuscripts

  • Estate of Beatrice and Noel Parsloe – letters from Colin McCahon, Anne McCahon and Rodney Kennedy to his parents and another family. Beatrice was Colin’s sister and the mother of brothers Andrew and John Parsloe. Over 100 letters covering most of Colin’s lifetime were donated this year. The letters discuss family matters and news but also Colin writes about his art and his thoughts on painting.
  • Maureen Eppstein - Hone Tuwhare poem, calligraphy by Jean McCormack Tuwhare. Both the McCahon letters and the Tuwhare poem are described in this story.
  • Janet Clark - “The Cygnet,” a hand written newsletter by and for the passengers on board the Black Swan, 1864, during its voyage from London to Port Chalmers, and some family history papers. Includes a variety of information such as logs on the ship's progress in terms of latitude, longitude and distance, places and sights passed, songs, poetry, activities undertaken by passengers on board, births, deaths and marriages occurring and weather conditions. The final pages are comprised of “Advices to emigrants” including what to do on arrival at the Port and for those going onto the goldfields. Evidently The Cygnet was written up by the editor from information contributed by passengers and then handed around the ship to be read.
  • Ally McBride - Tewsley family collection – mainly 19th century family papers relating to the Tewsleys. The collection was donated after she published a book based on the letters.
  • Heinke Sommer-Matheson (wife of Presbyterian Minister Peter Matheson who has lived in New Zealand most of her married life) - additions to a collection of letters between Ernst and Lilo Sommer in WW2 Germany (Heinke’s parents). The first lot of these letters were donated in 2015.
    • Ernst was on active service and wrote to Lilo every day, Lilo wrote back to him daily as well. They promised each other that when the war was over they would read the letters together. Ernst saved Lilo’s letters and sent them back to her in batches for safekeeping, and of course Lilo kept Ernst’s letter safe too. Given the conditions he lived under this was an achievement on Ernst’s part. Sadly Ernst was killed 13 February 1942 before he could return home permanently, leaving Lilo with two small children to raise in wartime.
    • The letters are in German, Heinke has transcribed most of them, but they are not yet translated.
    • Heinke has previously donated a collection of Hone Tuwhare letters.

Pictorial Collections

Donations to the Pictorial Collection in the past year include gifts from Frances Hodgkins Fellows:

  • Peter Gibson Smith - a reimagined Grecian vase called Volute Krater, 2015
  • Gretchen Albrecht - four ethereal prints entitled Two Measures (Moon), 1999; Ebb Tide, 2016; Cloudy Mirror, and Moon, Shadow, Ocean, Light, both 2012
  • Scott Eady - a witty take on an old English inn sign by called Cock & Swallow, 2002.

Music Collections

  • John Steel (Pog’n’Scroggin Bush Band) - One of the most significant donations to the music collections is a large number of locally-focussed folk music cassettes. These tapes provide an amazing snapshot of the local folk scene between the 1970s to 1990s, and fill a gap in our collection relating to this genre.
  • Dunedin Public Library, and The Regent Theatre - a number of Pacifica music LPs and some treasures in 78rpm. Other highlights include a small collection of cassettes of local bands including Doug the Warlock, Naughty Amoeba, and Moral Fibre.
  • Eric Biddington (composer) - a substantial number of scores from his own personal collection. These will add depth to the Hocken’s sheet music collection, and provide further opportunities for research into New Zealand music.

Ephemera Collection

Purposeful collecting for the Hocken’s ephemera and posters collection only began in the 1960s, so it is always great to be able to add material from earlier periods.

This year the Hocken has been fortunate to accept:

Mount Cook Airlines poster

  • Posters and programmes for two late 1950s Otago University Dramatic Society productions “The Two Noble Kinsmen” and “The Queen and the Rebels”. While programmes are one of the most commonly donated types of ephemera; it is rare to receive accompanying posters.
  •  A Mount Cook Air Services poster from the early 1960s that shows passengers had to journey to Queenstown by plane and then by bus. Queenstown airport was not certified for DC3 operation until 1964 so passengers had to fly to Cromwell and then bus to Queenstown.
  • A rare Geisha Chocolates box produced by local company Romison & Co. (which used to be located in the University Bookshop building) from the 1920s/1930s - often only the lids of old boxes survive so it is possible to see how the whole box was constructed.

Publications Collection

  • Terry Leamy - One off self-published publications like zines and comics are hard to come by as their print run is very limited. We are very fortunate at the Hocken to have a number of kind donors who will pick up publications for us from various events and locations around New Zealand. Many zines and comics from the Wellington Zinefest were given by Terry and as a result this has increased our collection of zines from 149 to 233 zines this year.
  • Product catalogues such as the 1930 P. & D. Duncan agricultural implements are a wonderful source of images of past technology. Donors who think to give them to us rather than throw the catalogues away are rare and very much appreciated.
  • In Periodicals, it is often the everyday items we are most interested in. We have all the newspaper supplements of the coronation we could ever want, but we are still missing old issues of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, for example.
  • School magazines contain a wealth of information for genealogical research. We have been very fortunate this year to receive three donations that were able to fill some significant gaps in our collection of school magazines.

For further information, contact

Sharon Dell
Hocken Librarian
Hocken Library
Tel: 64 3 479 8877

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