My Time with Marilyn

Part 1: Middle Temple Law Library

Confused by the title of this blog post? Don’t worry, I’ll clear it up after I backtrack a bit and tell you about our penultimate class trip. Yesterday, after I visited Wesley’s Chapel and the Museum of Methodism, I made my way back to the dorms (remember, everyone else had gone to see the Museum of London), and joined my classmates to travel to the Middle Temple Law Library. The legal system in Britain is quite different from ours here in the States, and it’s a bit confusing to explain, but I’ll do my best. In the UK, there are two legal professions, Barristers and Solicitors, and each serve different functions within the system. Barristers are actually called to the English Bar, and Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court which are able to do so. All barristers must belong to one of the Inns, which serve as a professional association. The other three Inns of Court are the Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn, but we specifically toured Middle Temple, which has a rockstar history. The Temple actually served as the headquarters of the Knights Templar, until they fell into disfavor and were kicked out.

Middle Temple Law Library

Middle Temple Law Library

Each of the Four Inns has its own library and corresponding subject specialities, with Middle Temple’s being International Law. The current library was built in 1641 and founded by a barrister named Robert Ashley (who donated his personal collection of 4,000 books); it has survived many of London’s travesties, including the Great Fire and the World Wars. Today, the library is home to 250,000 books, journals, and various other legal documents, and contains one of the largest collections of American law related items outside of the US. Unlike many of the libraries and archives we’ve visited throughout the UK, books are not shelved according to size at Middle Temple, but rather by subject. The library uses its own internal subject heading system, as the Library of Congress subject headings were insufficient to meet their needs.

Shelving at Middle Temple Law Library

Shelving at Middle Temple Law Library

Now, here are two special fun facts about Middle Temple: 1. Each of the four Inns has 2 royal benchers, meaning member(s) of the Royal Family are called to the Bar and made Honorary Barristers. Middle Temple’s former 2 benchers were Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. As both of those lovely ladies are now deceased, Prince William was called to the Bar in 2009. 2. In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, he wrote a scene (Act 2, Scene 4) that took place in “the Temple-garden,” and writes of lawyers within rose garden. Now, both the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple match Shakespeare’s description, but we’re all choosing to believe he was definitely talking about Middle Temple! Once we toured the library, we were taken to the Great Hall, which was built in 1570. The hall is magnificent – and actually reminds me of the Great Hall at Hogwarts in Harry Potter. It has the largest double-hammered beam roof in the world, and was the site for the first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. (The playwright himself as well as Queen Elizabeth I were supposedly in attendance!) The table, which is still used by students, Barristers, and other members of the Inn daily, is rumored to have been a gift from the Queen, and the walls are covered with the shields of readers (a stepping-stone towards becoming a bencher).

Readers Shields - Great Hall

Readers Shields

Though I was not initially particularly ecstatic to be visiting a Law Library, I think Middle Temple is probably the Law Library to visit in the UK, and I’m glad we went. Learning about its unique history as well as the UK legal system proved to make for an interesting and informative afternoon!

Part 2: Some Like it Hot

Wednesday evening, after our trip to Middle Temple and then a visit to Jubilee Gardens, Jessica and I went to the BFI for a screening of Some Like it Hot (1959). The BFI (British Film Institute), was founded in 1933 and preserves art, films, television, and moving images from the UK, with the intent of providing access to these materials to the public. The BFI’s National archive is in fact the largest film archive in the world, with hundreds of thousands of items, including collections related to specific people (directors, producers) in the film industry. As I said, access is a key part of the BFI’s strategic plan; they have an IMAX theatre (a 1 minute walk from our dorm rooms!), which is the UK’s biggest cinema screen, and theaters on the Southbank (a 5 minute walk for us). Jessica and I attended our screening on the Southbank!

Some Like It Hot Movie Poster

“Some Like It Hot poster,” Via Wikipedia

Some Like it Hot of course stars the beloved Marilyn Monroe, along with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. I won’t spoil the plot, but if you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. It truly is hilarious, and Monroe, Curtis, and Lemmon are excellent to watch (especially on the big screen!). I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the BFI – the theatre itself was fantastic! It felt like an “old school” type of theatre, with red velvet curtains and matching chair upholstery. The seats were incredibly comfortable, and I had to laugh, thinking that Jim (my step-dad who falls asleep during almost every movie, whether at home or in a theatre), would have been zonked out in about 30 seconds!

BFI Theatre

BFI Theatre

Jessica and I had a great time, and it was nice to laugh, relax, and not worry about research papers, or think about how I’ll be heading home in just a few short days. I wish there was a place in Columbia that regularly screened old films – the older I get, the more I appreciate them and understand their cultural significance. It’s wonderful that we have institutions such as the BFI and the AFI (American Film Institute) to preserve these cultural treasures. I’m reminded of MIRC (Moving Image Research Collection), which is one of the libraries at USC. I had the chance to tour MIRC last semester, and was amazed at not only what they do (films are quite tricky and expensive to preserve!), but also their materials, which includes a large Chinese film collection and the Fox Movietone News Collection. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction belonging to a professional field that has such a vested interest in not only preserving, but also providing access to any and all types and formats of information.

Part 3: The Crucible 

The Old Vic

The Old Vic

My not-so-great afternoon was drastically turned around by a Ben’s Cookie and my wonderful theatre adventure with friends! Tonight, Jessica, Michelle (who arrived in London today – yay!), and I had the pleasure of seeing The Crucible at The Old Vic, a legendary London theatre. The Old Vic opened back in 1818, and since then has undergone multiple renovations while under some famous management; in 2004, Kevin Spacey, one of my favorite actors, was named the artistic director, and he appears in the theatre’s productions from time to time. We were fortunate enough to snag some of the “Under 25s” tickets, available for 12 pounds at every performance.

The Crucible was written in the early 1950’s by playwright Arthur Miller, the third and final husband of Marilyn Monroe (does the blog title make sense now?). It is one of my favorite plays, and was able to capture my attention back in high-school with its dark, brooding nature, bits of humor, and non-fictional ties to the Salem Witch Trials of Massachusetts. The protagonist, a flawed, but ultimately noble man named John Proctor was played by Richard Armitage (North & South, The Hobbit trilogy). Unlike the character he played, Armitage’s performance was flawless, as was the entire production. The supporting cast was full of newcomers, but together created a necessary powerful underlying feeling of tension and hysteria throughout the play. In all, the play was 3.5 hours long, but I could have stayed even longer, and was left enamored by the experience.

Below is a 1 minute trailer of The Crucible. Watch it. If you’re a theatre fan at all, you’ll probably get goosebumps, just like I did.

As frustrating as London can be (this week it has been, or at least seemed, stifling hot and extra-crowded), I have cherished the opportunities I’ve had to be a part of London’s exciting and constant cultural offerings. Samuel Johnson, an English writer from the 1700’s, once wrote, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Truer words have never been written.

Thank you London,



Wesley’s Chapel and the Museum of Methodism

As you may remember from a few weeks ago, Jade and I attended a moving service at Wesley’s Chapel on our first Sunday in London. So, needless to say, I woke up this morning with a feeling of excitement to return to this beautiful place! After some less-than-pleasant experiences in attempting to narrow down a research topic, I had an inkling that my experience today at Wesley’s Chapel would be a success – and I am happy to say to that I was correct! Though I got a little lost at first (the Old Street Tube Station is quite confusing!), I soon found my way back to the Chapel. Since London is a surprisingly late riser (hardly anything opens before 10 am), it was quiet and peaceful in the courtyard of the Chapel.

John Wesley Statue at Wesley's Chapel

Hello again, Mr. Wesley…

After enjoying those few peaceful moments, I wandered into the Chapel and downstairs into the Museum of Methodism.

Welcome to the Museum of Methodism

On my first visit to the Chapel, we briefly walked through the Museum, so it was nice to take my time walking through the displays and seeing the various documents, facsimiles, pamphlets, magazines, hymn books, and ephemera related to the history of Methodism – from John Wesley‘s time to the present. Wesley, who along with his brother Charles, are considered the co-founders of Methodism, built the Chapel in 1777, and moved into his house next-door in 1779. After his death in 1791, John Wesley was buried in the Chapel graveyard. The Chapel itself has sustained fire damage, survived World War II, and has undergone multiple renovations. In 1898, John Wesley’s House became a museum, and the Museum of Methodism opened in the crypt of the Chapel in 1984. The buildings have such a rich history, and are central to not only John Wesley’s life, but also of Methodism itself…

I also had a chance to speak with Christian Dettlaff, the Curator of the Museum; he was so friendly and was happy to answer some of my questions about the Museum. Since 1977, the University of Manchester has served as the official archive of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, but prior to this date, the archives were actually kept at Wesley’s Chapel and John Wesley’s House. Now that the bulk of Wesley’s papers are located in Manchester, the Museum today focuses mainly on acquiring

Wesley's Prayer Room

Wesley’s Prayer Room

documents and items related to the history of the Chapel and the House. Wesley’s House is packed with items belonging to the late theologian, including his furniture and personal library (consisting of 474 books); these books are used by researchers even today, and many of the books bear his signature on the inner cover.

All in all, it was a very productive morning for me at the Chapel, Museum, and House. The staff and volunteers made this born and raised United Methodist feel right at home, and it was rewarding to learn more about Wesley’s life as well as the history of Methodism itself, both for my personal and academic interests. The gift shop in the Museum was full of helpful materials for my research paper, including a complete catalogue of the collection of letters written by Wesley that are held at the Museum.

Though the formatting and structure of this research paper is unlike any paper I’ve ever previously written, I appreciate the fact that Dr. Welsh and Dr. Griffis are pushing us outside of our comfort zone – after all, isn’t that what traveling is all about?!

Until tomorrow,


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Westminster Abbey

Part One: A Visit to Westminster Abbey 

Hello, hello!

It’s hard to believe that this sunny and particularly warm Tuesday was our first day of class in a week! It’s been great to see my classmates again and hear about everyone’s mini-break adventures. But alas, the vacation is over and we’re back to work…

This morning there was an optional trip to the Maughan Library, the library of King’s College, where we’ve been living these past few weeks. While I wanted to see this apparently amazing research library, I chose to focus on my research paper. After mulling over various topics, from John Wesley to the British Museum archives, none of which have panned out, I then decided to check out the BFI’s collections. But you’ll read more about them later.

I’m sad to report that my morning did not go as planned, as I woke up having yet another heart episode. After several hours of resting in bed though, it finally stopped in time for me to run a few quick errands and then meet for the class trip to the Westminster Abbey Library! (No pictures could be taken inside the library, but if you click on the link, you can catch a glimpse of what it looks like inside)

Librarian and Keeper of the Muniments Sign - Westminster Abbey

Entrance to Westminster Abbey’s Library

With this fantastic sign on the door of the library, located in the East Cloister, we rang the doorbell and headed upstairs. (Fun Fact: I had no idea what a “muniment” was, and it turns out it basically refers to the records/archives. The technical definition is a document such as a title, deed, contract, etc.) We met with Dr. Tony Trowles, the Head of the Collection, who gave us a rundown of the history of the Abbey itself, as well as specifics about the library. The current library, established since 1591, is located in what used to be a monk’s dormitory! In 1587, a man named William Camden became the first appointed librarian of Westminster; today, Dr. Trowles is only the 34th appointed librarian. If you do the math, that means that in 427 years, there have been 34 men in charge of Westminster’s collections, averaging about 12.5 years of employment/person.

Surprisingly, only approximately 1/2 of the library’s collection is religious in nature (sermons, history of the early Church Fathers, etc.), and there is a sizable collection of British history, which includes the reign of the Romans. The library’s early printed book collection is now closed and rarely added to, as the focus of acquisitions today is on the Abbey itself (the building, monuments and memorials on the grounds, coronations, etc.) The muniments detail the administrative history of the Abbey and dates back to the 10th century.

Today, the library is still in fact a working library, and visitors can utilize the collections in the Reading Room, while the small group of staff work to answer specialized inquiries and research questions that pour in from around the world. In addition, staff are just beginning to computerize the library’s catalog, meaning a good old fashioned card catalogue is still in use! (Personally, I love that fact about the Abbey…. it just seems fitting to me).

I know that I gushed over getting to visit St. Paul’s library, and y’all are probably tired of reading about my affinity for theological libraries, but I’m going to say it again – I am SO thrilled that I was able to tour Westminster’s Library. Something about them just makes this future librarian’s heart happy.

Part 2: A Semi-Productive Afternoon 

I’m not sure how I’ve made it this far without mentioning our daily class tradition – at virtually every library/archive/museum we’ve visited, Dr. Griffis and Dr. Welsh have assembled us into fabulous group photos! At this point, we have a fairly large and impressive collection of group shots from all across London and beyond! After our tour of Westminster ended, Dr. Griffis led us to the nearby Trafalgar’s Square, where we took several group shots – remember, that’s where my main man, Lord Nelson is located, so I was happy to visit his monument yet again. At the bottom of this post I created a slide show of our group photos so you can see my classmates and some of the places we’ve been! We’re a motley crew, but I think we’re all pretty awesome.

Since I did not have a chance to check out the BFI this morning, I made a solo trip there after leaving Trafalgar’s Square to scope out their Reuben Library, and maybe speak with a librarian there about helping with my research paper. Needless to say, that trip ended in disappointment, and I trudged back from the BFI to our dorms (fortunately, it’s a 5 minute walk), and tried to re-group.

BUT, after an emergency meeting with Dr. Griffis and Dr. Welsh, I am pleased to announce to everyone that I now OFFICIALLY have a research topic – though really I’m back to square one, I will be writing about John Wesley and the Museum of Methodism! I have been given permission to skip our Museum of London tour tomorrow morning in order to do some research, so I can’t wait to get started and update you all tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that this works because we are rapidly running out of research time!

I am stuffed full of pizza, and sleepy after a relaxing night in our dorms, so I’m off to bed.

Send me happy research thoughts, please,


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday Adventures

Happy Saturday!

Like Wednesday, today has been both very busy and also lots of fun! Though we’re now pretty exhausted, Laura Douglass and I managed to check multiple things off of our London Bucket List, which is fantastic. There are so many things I want to do, but a month is not long enough to cram everything in…

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

We began our day by venturing back to Kensington Gardens, and walking around the palace grounds. There was no sign of

Caprice - Carousel Ride in Kensington Gardens


William, Kate, or baby George, but I’d like to think they were there! Just past the palace is a carousel, which we of course had to ride! We were definitely the only two “big kids” on there, but I had a blast on my horse, whose name was Caprice. (No, I did not name him). I wanted to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which is such a simple, peaceful place, and a real tribute to her.

Isis Statue- Hyde Park


There’s so much to look at in the park that we strolled around for awhile. We found the Isis Statue, which is created after the Egyptian goddess of nature.

By now it was brunch time, so we walked through Hyde Park and ate at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen. I had delicious scrambled eggs on toast, and it was so nice to relax and enjoy being right at the water of the Serpentine Lake.

Brunch at the Serpentine


After leaving the park, it was next on our list to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum. We’d already paid Sherlock a visit, but it was after dark and the Museum was closed. However, after traveling to Baker Street, we quickly saw that the line to enter the Museum was quite long! Apparently the wait to enter the Museum was close to 2 hours, and we didn’t want to wait on the sidewalk in the scorching heat for that long, so we did the next best thing… go to the gift shop! I’m a huge Sherlock fan and have read most of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s stories of the infamous detective, so I’m sad that I didn’t have a chance to go into the Museum – maybe next time, London! I did manage to buy a few things from the gift shop, which made me feel much better!

We were on a roll by this point, and it wasn’t even lunchtime! So LD and I decided to go search for more book benches. This time, we took on the Bloomsbury Trail, which has 12 benches, and I’m happy to say that we found most of them! These benches include some of my favorites: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Sherlock Holmes Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, 1984 by George Orwell, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, James Bond Stories by Ian Fleming, and Peter Pan by J.M. BarrieThe awesome thing about this is that at almost EVERY single bench we found, there IMG_3963was at least one person there also searching for the benches – best of all, this person, or group of people, asked if LD and I wanted them to take our picture with the bench. As a result, we have some great pics, and we were always happy to return the favor! Everyone in London is so unbelievably nice. EXCEPT for the jerk(s) who vandalized the 1984 bench so badly that it had to removed and repaired before we could see it!

Update: 7/29 – Apparently the bench has successfully been repaired and will soon be back in business, according to Dr. Welsh!

On our book bench expedition, we stumbled across this bookstore called Skoob (books spelled backwards) – it was in the basement of a building and looked a little iffy from the outside, but I’m so glad we found this place. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen more books crammed into a space – this shop was absolute heaven on Earth to me! I quickly found the Chuck Palahniuk section (my favorite author, who is probably best known for writing Fight Club). I’m the proud owner of many of his books, even a few 1st editions, but for some reason didn’t own Survivor, one of my favorites. Well I found a UK version of Survivor that has an awesome cover, and it only cost 3 pounds! So I promptly bought it. I swore that I wouldn’t bring back any books because they’re heavy and take up a lot of space, but I couldn’t resist.

After we conquered the Bloomsbury Trail, we made our way to the Tower Bridge exhibition, which allows one to actually venture

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

inside and up into the iconic bridge. Currently, there are several exhibitions happening up in the walkways – one on “The Sixties” in London, and one on “Great Bridges of the World.” Visitors are also given the chance to learn about the history of the Tower Bridge itself, while having the opportunity to look through the viewing windows, which allow you a spectacular view of the River Thames and the city. I never really knew much about the history of the bridge, so it was nice to learn some fun facts: It took over 400 men 8 years to build the bridge, and cost nearly 1.2 million pounds!

When LD bought our ticket to the Tower Bridge, we took advantage of the fact that you could buy a joint ticket to both the Tower Bridge as well as the Monument to the Great Fire of London. But as soon as we were handed the tickets, we were told that we had 7 days to use the ticket to climb the Monument. Well, today is Saturday. We’re leaving tomorrow for Scotland,

The Monument

The Monument

and then on to Ireland/Northern Ireland, so we knew that if we didn’t use our ticket today, it’d be wasted money! Yikes. So, once we completed everything at the Tower Bridge, we hustled (and I do mean practically RAN) the distance from the bridge to the Monument to make it before Last Entry. Needless to say, we (or at least I) was exhausted and out of breath by the time we made it…. which was probably not an ideal state to be in before climbing a very narrow staircase consisting of 311 steps. *Side Note: I climbed the Monument during my first trip to London, and though I have never been claustrophobic or afraid of heights, I had an anxiety attack – the spiral staircase is frighteningly narrow, especially when people are walking both up and down it, and I had to stop

View from the top of the Monument

View from the top of the Monument – you can see by the Tower Bridge in the distance just how far we walked/ran!

several times.* This time around was perhaps a little better, though I still had to stop a few times to catch my breath (it probably is not the wisest thing to climb 311 steps when you have a serious chest infection). But the view from the top is spectacular and makes the torture worth it! We took some great pictures… And the best part is, once you’re at the bottom, you receive a fancy Certificate saying that you climbed the steps!

After our exciting time at the Monument, it was time for us to head back to the dorms to get ready for dinner with our professors and some of our classmates. We ate at the Black Friar pub, which was delicious, and enjoyed just chatting and laughing with everyone! Afterwards, we headed back to the dorms where Dr. Welsh and Dr. Griffis let us discuss our research paper topics with them. Research papers are always a bit daunting, so it was nice to get some feedback from them as well as our classmates, and I think everyone is feeling a bit better about this paper!

Well, in the morning we are off to Edinburgh! I am SO excited as I’ve never been to Scotland before. It’ll be a long bus ride, but I know we’ll have a blast.

Wish me luck packing! (Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator…)


British Museum and Wiener Library

Part 1: British Museum 

The British Museum

Outside the British Museum

We began today with a visit to the one and only British Museum. Our class is so large that we split into two groups; since I was put in the later tour, I had the chance to re-explore the Museum itself. The British Museum was one of my favorite places from my previous London trip, so I was thrilled to have the chance to once again see some of its treasures. No trip to the Museum would be complete without a visit to the Rosetta Stone:
Rosetta Stone
I’ve seen the Stone in person twice now, and am not ashamed to say that both times I got goosebumps and a little teary. Fun Taylor Fact: I used to (let’s be honest, STILL) want to be an Egyptologist “when I grow up,” so seeing the hieroglyphics is always thrilling to say the least.
I have to say though that this trip to the Museum was not as much fun the second time around simply because it was so unbelievably crowded! The Museum is free, which helps draw a large crowd, but the number of people there was astronomical! It made it difficult to really look at the objects and items you wished to see because you were constantly bumping elbows with other inquisitive folks… and endless amounts of schoolchildren. Whew!
After seeing as much as I could, my group began our tour of the Central Archive of the Museum. Every department within the Museum has its own archive, but the Central Archive is the archive of the Museum itself. Thus, it contains administrative records, reports, staff records, committee minutes, office reports, excavation records, financial documents, photographs, deeds and contracts, reader applications, and court case documents (more on those last two in a moment…)
The earliest documents in the collection date back to June 1738, and this archive as a whole tells the fascinating history of the Museum, which dates back to the 1670’s and changed hands/buildings several times over the centuries. Now, back to reader applications and court case documents…
Many libraries and archives, especially those who house rare books and special collections, require anyone who desires to use their materials to register within their system. This idea has been around for centuries – the British Museum in fact used to require potential readers to fill out an application form as well as produce reference letters (some places still require this today). And, Bram Stoker's Signature lucky for us, we were able to see part of the reading application of Bram Stoker! (Author of Dracula). You can see his signature below – he’s the third one from the top.
Now, about court cases – the British Museum is obviously home to precious items that span the globe from over thousands of years. There is some controversy there, as many countries today feel as though the Museum is holding onto essentially “stolen” items (these are typically items which have been looted during times of war). This article, though several years old, details some of these controversies: British Museum Under Pressure to Give Up Leading Treasures.
Because of this, the Museum has gone to court multiple times over various ownership claims, and these documents are stored in the Central Archive. Francesca, the archivist, explained to us that the Museum now has strict rules on provenance (ownership), though this was not necessarily the case 50-100 years ago.
The tricky issue of ownership during war time has actually directly affected the British Museum itself. If you’ve ever heard of The Blitz, you know that London sustained heavy damage during World War II.

A piece of the bomb which hit the British Museum during WWII

A piece of the bomb which hit the British Museum during WWII

In fact, an incendiary bomb hit the Museum. Fun Fact: the Museum never closed during the war in order to essentially boost the morale of Londoners and allow them a chance to escape from the dreariness and heartbreak of war. However, many objects were taken out of the Museum and put into deep basement storage and also the Aldwych Station (which was also a hiding place for many people). A “suicide” exhibit was put on display in the Museum, meaning it was comprised of items that wouldn’t be devastating to the Museum’s collection if lost or damaged. Personally, I found this very fascinating, and ended up doing some research on the Museum during War on my own – within the catalog I found a letter that details the evacuation plans of the British Museum’s Collections during WWII.

Francesca has worked in the Museum for years, but has only recently (as in within the past few weeks) become the archivist of the Central Archive. She is passionate and enthusiastic about her job, and is keen on making sure the Museum continues to place a high value on the documents within the archive, and prioritizes cataloging records within the collection. Currently, the British Museum is the only National Museum within the UK that not has no internet links or online catalog to their archives – this was more than somewhat shocking to me, but I don’t doubt that Francesca will make this happen. I left her archive feeling very inspired and relieved to know that there are people like her who are so passionate about our field and their work.
 Part 2: Wiener Library
Our second library visit of the day was to the Wiener Library in Russell Square. Now, you may remember that I lived in Russell Square during my first Study Abroad trip to London, but the library was not moved there until late 2011, and I visited in early 2007. Yet perhaps it is because of my Religious Studies background, but I found myself absolutely enthralled with everything about this library. The library is the world’s oldest Holocaust collection and is named for Alfred Wiener, who was one of the first people to write critically about Mein Kampf. Wiener’s collection initially began with his newspaper clippings of the happenings of German right-wing parties, particularly the Nazi party. In the early 30’s, Wiener left Germany and traveled to Amsterdam, where he set up the Jewish Central Information Office. Over time, his collection began growing, and others began to use his resources. In 1939, the majority of the collection was sent to London before the Nazis invaded Amsterdam in 1940, accompanied by Wiener; tragically, some papers were left behind, Wiener’s Amsterdam colleagues were captured and/or murdered, and his own wife and daughters were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
At the end of the war, Wiener’s papers helped to re-connect people with family members, but perhaps most importantly, used during the Nuremberg trials, in which Allied forces prosecuted leaders of the Nazi party. In short, Toby, the Learning EngagementStacks at the Wiener Library Manager and my group’s tour guide, emphasized that Wiener’s library was “born out of desperate and chaotic circumstances by a determined individual,” and has been “organically developed over time.” Today, the library is primarily a research library and heritage institution, and serves as Britain’s national Holocaust archive. It is in fact the third largest Holocaust collection in the world, after the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Yad Vasehm World Center for Holocaust Research in Israel. The collection is vast and exhaustive, covering a variety of material types, and the collection is growing even today – the library is still adding family papers and records, acquiring books, and adding materials about other genocides (Rwanda, Darfur). Besides books and papers, the library has 17,000 original photos, microfilm, press cuttings, and an interesting (and quite disturbing) collection of Nazi propaganda, particularly aimed towards German youths (children’s books, coloring books, etc.)

*Library Nerd Moment: Because of the uniqueness of the collection, no pre-existing library classification system (Dewey, Library of Congress) would adequately fulfill the Wiener Library’s needs. As such, the library has brilliantly created its own system! Using the alphabet (or A – Zed as the British say), examples include “N” for Nazi Ideology, S for “Refugees,” and “X” for Antisemitism. Sometimes I feel as though every other person who finds out I’m in school to become a librarian cracks some unnecessary joke about the Dewey Decimal System or card catalogues… so I am in awe of a place like the Wiener Library that has concocted its own classification system.

After awesome visits to two amazing places, Jade, Jessica and I decided to venture to the infamous Harrod’s department store… aka a place where I must simply window shop, as I probably cannot afford a single item in the entire building. Needless to say, the consumerism in that place is more than a little overwhelming, so we quickly ventured onwards and did our typical routine of walking around and exploring, which I love! For dinner we went back to our beloved South Bank and ate at the Gourmet Pizza Company on Gabriel’s Wharf at the recommendation of Dr. Welsh… it was delicious! I decided that since we’re leaving in just 3 days to journey to Edinburgh, tonight would be a good night to do laundry. What fun! We’re enjoying our quiet evening, and I hope everyone back home will enjoy theirs as well.

Miss you all!