The University of Sunderland Library Culture blog. Helpful tips and information for people in the Department of Culture studying, teaching or researching in the fields of Languages, History & Politics or English. See the Support for your Subject pages for more information about help and resources.

History and Politics

Department of Culture Research Blog


Spectral Visions III: The Vampire Strikes Back

The Faculty of Education and Society’s English team is holding its annual Spectral Visions Conference on 26th June 2014 at St Peter’s Campus between 9am and 4pm. Sixth formers from across the region will be attending a variety of talks and workshops on topics as diverse as how monsters talk, ghosts from Goethe to Shakespeare, and angels, zombies and monsters of the First World War.

Follow Spectral Visions via the dedicated blog, on Twitter (#SV14) or on Facebook

More Books For You! - Thanks for sharing


As you will recall between January and April we shared how we are supporting you with extra investment in books by providing extra copies of core texts, a wider choose of reading and more e-books.

Lots of you shared what this means for you and here’s what you said!

Thanks for sharing!

Spotlight on Spanish Resources…

The University Library has a whole host of resources to help you study Spanish whether you’re new to the language and learning on a University Language Scheme module or are studying on an MFL degree and writing a dissertation in Spanish.

If you’ve not used the library before come in and check out just what’s on offer here!

As well as language course textbooks choose from a range of accompanying listening materials and activity books for learners plus films in Spanish, Spanish literature, Spanish readers with accompanying cd’s, links to free useful websites and language learning tools online and foreign language journals in Discover just to name a few things!

New to the library shelves today…

New resources donated for Mining study

Keith Gregsonwriter, musician and historian, has recently donated some publications to the Murray Library which are to be added to our Special Collections and contribute to mining research sources.


These will be available for study shortly - see the Special Collections web page for more information about opening times and how to book an appointment.  Thanks very much to Keith for his kind donations to the library.

Discover the magic of words: David Almond

Award-winning children’s author David Almond will be presenting a talk, ‘Practical Magic, How do stories appear on the page?’ at the Murray Library Lecture Theatre on Thursday May 8th 7pm.

The creator of the classic children’s book Skellig says: “We are all creative and imaginative beings. Creativity is ordinary, human, down-to-earth, but in its spontaneity and unexpectedness, it is also a kind of magic.
“A finished work (such as a book) appears to be perfect, but is the product of an imperfect, playful, messy process. A child once asked me (children ask the best questions!), ‘How do you turn the mess in your head into straight lines on the page?’ This talk will try to answer that question.”

The talk is free and open to all but must be booked via the University Online Store:, email, or call 0191 5153169.

David Almond is an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the University of Sunderland. He is twice winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book Award, and is one of only three UK authors to win the Hans Christian Anderson Award, considered the world’s most prestigious children’s literature award.

His first novel Skellig also won the Carnegie Medal, and was adapted to film in 2009 starring Tim Roth.

University Lecture: ‘Discover: Women in Politics’ - May 15


Sir Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre, St Peter’s Campus
Thursday, May 15 from 7pm
The talk is free and open to all but must be booked via the University Online Store

BBC Political Editor Richard Moss will put your questions to some of the country’s most accomplished female politicians. You can put your questions to the panel of Joyce Quin, Hilary Armstrong and Estelle Morris.

Baroness Joyce Quin served as prisons minister, Minister for Europe, and as a junior agriculture minister, she also served as Member of the European Parliament for Tyne South and Wear and Tyne and Wear, as Member of Parliament for Gateshead East and Washington West, and was made a life peer by the Labour Party in 2006.

Baroness Hilary Armstrong is former Labour Chief Whip, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Minister for Social Exclusion and Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Manifesto Committee, and received her life peerage in 2010, as Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, of Crook in the County of Durham.

Baroness Estelle Morris is former Education Secretary, and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland; she was Minister for the Arts, Chair of the Children’s Workforce Development Council and was made a life peer in 2005.

This talk is free and open to all.

International Workers’ Day - round up of resources from LSE

A truly fantastic resources blog post from LSE today about International Workers’ Day and research sources.  A whole host of digital archives full of free full text materials are listed for the study of international labour, workers rights and trade unions.

These sources could also be used for research related to our current ‘Mining’ Culture Collisions.  The first trade unions in British mining were established in the eighteenth century and continue today - the National Union of Mineworkers website has a comprehensive history of the union plus other features like the Banner galleries.


For links to other related sites and Mining archives check out the ‘What’s New in Archives’ section of the library Special Collections page.

Culture Collisions: this weeks highlights from the photography collection


Konttinen, S. (2003) The coal coast. Newcastle upon Tyne: Amberside.

This book explores the lasting legacy of the mining industry on the landscape of County Durham. It includes photographs of the cliffs and beaches of the Durham Coalfield produced for an exhibition at the Side Gallery.

No redemption #1

Pattison, K. (2010) No Redemption. Hexham: Flambard.

In August 1984, Keith Pattison was commissioned by Sunderland’s Artists’ Agency to photograph the strike in Easington Colliery for a month. He remained there on and off until it ended in March1985, photographing from behind the lines a community rallying together against implacable opposition.

We’d also recommend that you have a look at John Kippin’s work which explores how contemporary photography reflects the issues of our time.

Kippin, J. (1989) Futureland. Newcastle upon Tyne: Laing Art Gallery.

Kippin, J. and Wainwright, C. (2012) John Kippin, Chris Wainwright: futureland now.

John Kippin, Chris Wainwright: futureland now

Culture Collisions: Durham Miners’ Association Minute Books in the University of Sunderland Special Collections


Thanks to Wendy Tasker for today’s guest post…


From the sixteenth until the twentieth century the Great Northern Coalfield was the most important source of fuel in Britain. Coal structured the economic and social development of the region by attracting industry and nurturing generations of industrial workers whose traditions informed the annals of labour history. The miners’ unions are among the most important and historic in our national story, they engaged in some of the most momentous events in British economic, social and political history as well as less exciting, but no less significant, developments in social and industrial welfare.

University of Sunderland Special Collections hold minute books of the Durham Miners’ Association (est.1869).  These sources represent the spine of a priceless record of industrial organisation and struggle. They feature the names and ideas of regional luminaries, such as Peter Lee and John Wilson as well as the experience of ordinary miners and their families.  The books provide a fascinating insight (with one or two omissions, between 1876 and 1941) into the nature of industrial relations, trade union organisation and the provision of welfare, not least in the context of the tragedy of mining accidents and disasters.

This record represents an extraordinary rich resource for the academic researcher, teachers and their pupils, as well as the family historian.  Now, courtesy of The Durham Miners’ Association and The North East England Mining Archive and Research Centre (NEEMARC) at the University of Sunderland, 40 volumes of this resource are available online via the Special Collections Catalogue  for the enjoyment and enrichment of people all over the world.  The resource also recently attracted the attention of local media when Tyne Tees Television produced a news report all about the Durham Miners’ Association Minute Books. 

The Durham Miner’s Assocation minute books contain a wide variety of information and document the organisation and administration of the Association. Dr Stuart Howard and students studying North East mining for module HIS207 and HIS370 use this resource heavily to study mining life and culture of the time.


In addition to the Minute Books we have a small reference collection of books written on coal mining and also many other archives concerning the Durham Coalfield.


Culture Collisions: Additional Sources - Television programmes and documentaries


As well as books and ebooks the library also has information in other formats to help with mining research.  These include DVDs of television and radio programmes recorded using our ERA licence and then made available permanently for study purposes.

The ITV documentary ‘The Miner’s Strike and Me' was shown on television a short time ago and gave accounts from both sides of the conflict.  The BBC programme When Coal was King is also a recent programme and looks at the social and cultural lives of those who worked in the coal industry.  Both programmes are now available to borrow.

With the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Miner’s Strike upon us expect more programmes popping up on national tv.  Anything relevant will be added to the library collection.

Older clips and news reports are available within the Kate Adie Archive from University Library Services Special Collections (some content searchable online) and digital archives such as the ones highlighted earlier this week, British Pathe and Internet Archive.


(Image: Wellcome Images)

Culture Collisions: Beamish People’s Collection



The People’s Collection brings together photographs, oral history recordings and more, that document the everyday history of the region, from 1860 to the present day.

For those of you studying local photography, especially for PVD106 - History of Photographic Genres, the People’s Collection opens up an archive of material that is well worth exploring. The collection includes photographs of local big industries such as mining, ship building and farming, as well as images of life and times.

If you have time, why not visit the photographic and audio archive in person at Beamish Museum, where you will have access to 300,000 images representing everyday life in the North East of England.

The Beamish Flickr photostream also has some really interesting pictures and artifacts from the archive. Have a look at the album for the Durham Miner’s Gala, Joblings Glass Works and the 1984 Miner’s Strike.


Online Archives for Mining Information


Using online archives will help you unearth a wealth of information from freely available sources on the internet.  Here are just a few relevant examples:


Internet Archive

Webb’s Story of the Durham Miners is just one of the 513 texts available in full from the Internet Archive when doing a search for ‘miners’.  Other sources available include pamphlets, safety regulations, journal articles, conference proceedings and equipment specifications.  Internet Archive also holds images and audio/video files - like this audio file discussing lesson’s learned from the 1984 Miner’s Strike and this emotively titled video file ‘The Coal Boards’s Butchery' a 1984 documentary on British coal strikes produced in England by The Miners Campaign Tape Project. (Research tip: remember how important it is to critically evaluate internet sources!)



A really useful source for local mining, with lots of information relating to the Durham Miners.  A couple of selected pieces of particular interest are this audio slideshow relating to the Miner’s Strike of the 1980’s and ‘A man’s life: Exploring the culture and social history of the Durham coal fields’ (this also features the Colliers Rant).


British Pathe

British Pathe recently opened up their archives and released a huge amount of material onto their You Tube channel.  Check out this footage of Sunderland coal mines and a visit to Fishburne colliery in Durham by the American Ambassador in the 1950’s.


National Archives

In January this year the National Archives opened access to almost 500 additional government papers, some of which related to the handling of the 1984 miner’s strike and give new insights.  Search the National Archives catalogue within the department code COAL to identify relevant records, be aware that you may need to order copies of some information from this source as not all have been digitised.

(Research tip: When you use the search term ‘mining’ you will probably find lots of cross over with reference to ‘data mining’ - try adding more specific keywords as well such as ‘coal’ to make your search more relevant or if there is an Advanced Search option available on the resource you using try to combine ‘mining’ AND ‘coal’ NOT ‘data’.  The example below shows how to do this in Discover.


Culture Collisions: Ebooks for Mining


Ebook coverage by publishers is stronger in some subject areas than others.  The library will aim to purchase books available in both print and online formats where possible and watches closely to see what new titles become available.

Two of our most recent purchases to improve online access to resources in Mining, an area which typically requires the study of older materials and archive collections, are essential reading for History modules HIS207 Local and Regional History: Mining Culture and Regional Society in North East England and HIS370 North East England 1815-1914:



Also as part of our ecollection


Some of the older books needed for studying this area may also be available free online in digital archives if they are out of copyright.  For example Webb’s Story of the Durham Miners in the Internet Archive - more on digital archives tomorrow… 

To get the best out of library resources for mining research you will need to take full advantage of Sunderland University Special Collections (which include the NEEMARC collection and DMA Minute books) and essential journals available only in print from the upper level in Murray Library, for example North East History (formerly North East Labour History).