Welcome to the first Jisc MediaHub ‘Most Popular’ blog post of the year! It’s great to see people taking a look at the ‘most popular’ items from last September. Some of the items which we picked out are still popular now! This month (January 2015) we take a look at the Most Popular page to find out what people are researching, learning or teaching about. As always it is fun to try and work out why these items may be popular and identify themes running through the most popular lists. If you have any theories of your own, can explain why something is popular or tell us why you searched for and used a particular popular item it would be fantastic to hear from you!
A few of the most popular searches, subjects and items are to do with specific places. The second most popular search is Bexhill (Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex). In Jisc MediaHub, there are many images of various sights in Bexhill which are part of the English Heritage ViewFinder Collection (a selection of historic photographs from important collections of the National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage). It is also interesting to note that by searching for ‘Collections Trust’ (the third most popular search term) you also get back items from the English Heritage ViewFinder Collection. Collections Trust is in fact an independent UK charity which delivers the online service Culture Grid.
Lancashire is another very popular place with specific relation to its cotton industry, as can be seen from the appearance of the search term “Lancashire” and “Cotton” and the subject ‘Cotton Mill’. An example of an item you get from searching “Lancashire” and “Cotton” is the photograph below of Low Mill, Caton, Lancashire, a cotton mill established in 1784 and rebuilt in 1838 following a fire.
There are even more specific places of interest. A photograph of the exterior of the Canch Lido in Worksop, taken back in 1979, is the sixth most popular item.
The ninth most popular item is a photograph of “The Bunny Run” – Upper Batley Low Lane, Batley. It is a road which runs parallel with railway lines and was very popular with courting couples, hence the name! This item also links in to our next theme of …
The fourth most popular subject is ‘tram’, which may be topical due to Edinburgh trams having started running back in May 2014 and the Manchester tram network having just been extended. A particularly wonderful item is an image of a tinted postcard of an illuminated electric tram, which was specially commissioned to mark the occasion of the royal visit to Leeds of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 7th July 1908. This tram, decorated with 3,000 electrical lights, was particularly fitting as the royal couple were there to open the new electrical engineering wing of Leeds University.
Another transport-themed item is a silent newsreel shot in 1919 of a motor cycle trial run from London to Exeter, which was the ninth most popular item. It shows cars having trouble going up Trow Hill, and the results of a collision between two motorcycles, where “neither of the riders were much hurt”.
Both ‘1930 fashion’ and ‘hairdressing’ are popular search terms (seventh and eighth consecutively). It is always fascinating to see how people dressed in years gone by, and to see that trends do indeed return! There are a number of photographs from the London School of Art. The photograph below is of a 1930’s evening dress. It shows a closer body fit associated with the 1930s; the waistline is at its natural level, and the hemline is at ankle length. This item is an example of the London College of Fashion – College Archive, found in VADS via the Culture Grid.
Examples of creative hairstyling can be found in this short silent news report for ITN on the Hairdressing Festival, held at Seymour Hall in 1956. I particularly like the use of glitter and other accoutrements!
Arts, Culture and Entertainment
This is always a very popular subject term in Jisc MediaHub. This month we have terms from opposite ends of the spectrum – ‘Othello’ as the ninth most popular search and The ‘Beatles’ as the tenth most popular. Below is an image of the painting Othello by the French orientalist painter, Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter (1844-1913), found in VADS, via the Culture Grid.
Not that unsurprisingly there are a lot of items about The Beatles in Jisc MediaHub. A really fascinating item is the USA: Beatles on Tour in the Bible Belt, a news report about the Beatles tour of the American South, which was marred by protests after John Lennon managed to inflame America’s Bible Belt by stating that the Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus Christ’.
Wellcome Images, Madeley – and Arcimboldo!
When I first saw ‘Madeley’ (the fifth most popular search) I immediately thought of Richard Madeley the television presenter! However, it seems that the Madeley in question is in fact George E. Madeley, who is linked to IC (the ninth most popular subject). (N.B there are actually one or two items referring to Richard Madeley in Jisc MediaHub!) ‘IC’ as subject brings back items from Wellcome Images, a collection with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. IC refers to its Iconographic Collections. There are some really fascinating images from this collection. An example below is an image of a coloured lithograph printed by G.E. Madeley and published by T. McLean in 1830 of an apothecary.
There are numerous coloured lithographs by G.E. Madeley which are of Arcimboldesque figures, i.e. figures composed of the attributes/elements of their trade. The term ‘Arcimboldesque’ comes from the Italian painter , Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), who used fruit, vegetables, fish, books and other objects to create imaginative portraits, e.g. for Allegory of Summer he used summer fruits and flowers. Other examples of Madeley lithographs are those for entomologist, mineralogist and physiognomist. Why not look in MediaHub for other examples?
The tenth most popular item is a photograph of an Antarctic Christmas, which was taken in around 1903 and which had the original caption ‘Antarctic Xmas No.s 1 and 3 messes. Starboard side decorated for the occasion. Flashlight.’ Looking at this photo I think about what life was like for the men in such an inhospitable environment. It is great to see that they had some normality, even though we learn that Antarctic Christmas for the crew actually took place on June 23rd! The photograph has an eerie feel to it when you look at the double exposure of the dog in the foreground. There are other images of the same 1901-1904 Antarctic Expedition in MediaHub, one showing The Antarctic Theatrical Company in costume!
When you start looking in Jisc MediaHub you never know where you will end up! This became very apparent to me when I started looking at the Wellcome Images Collection, especially those with George E. Madeley as one of the subjects. This then lead me to search for Giuseppe Arcimboldo. If there are any journeys you have made through Jisc MediaHub, where you have either been sidetracked (in a good way!) or made a discovery or connection you would not have otherwise made do let us know. We would also love to hear your thoughts on why some of the items above are popular – just let us know in the comments below or share your theories on Twitter with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10.