In April I was lucky enough to visit Crete twice. On the first of these visits I made my way to Souda Bay War Cemetery, just outside of Chania, to see John Pendlebury’s final resting place.
Souda Bay is one of the most tranquil spots that I visited in Crete. The water in the bay is as placid as a lake, a peaceful sandy beach runs between the sea and cemetery, and the cemetery itself is well cared for with lush green grass and plants surrounding the site.
This is, in fact, John Pendlebury’s 3rd resting place. Though the circumstances of his death (and whether or not he was actually dead) were sketchy for some time after the events, the details are now clearer. This is thanks to a concerted effort on Hilda Pendlebury’s part to establish what had happened to her husband in the confusion of the May 1941 Battle of Crete.
Material in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive includes testimonials gathered from local Cretans who interacted with John during his last hours, letters between Hilda Pendlebury and Herbert Pendlebury about John’s death, and letters from some who were with John in Crete such as Lieutenant Commander Mike Cumberlege (who died in 1945).
The exact circumstances of John’s death are detailed in ‘John Pendlebury in Crete’ (250 copies printed for private circulation in 1948). To summarise: on the 21 May 1941 John was wounded in battle outside of Canea Gate in Heraklion, taken prisoner and deposited in a local house for treatment; a new German unit arrived the next day, searched the house, took John outside and shot him; he was first buried near the main road from Heraklion to the west; later he was moved to the British part of the Heraklion cemetery; and then to Souda Bay War Cemetery.
On my second visit to Crete, we (I was with British School colleagues) visited the cemetery that John was buried in, and Pendlebury Street outside Canea Gate which should be (more or less) the site of John’s death/first burial.
I have spent the last 7 weeks of the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive Project cataloguing the photograph series, preparing material for digitisation and working with a digitisation company to begin digitising the archive.
So far I have catalogued 5 out of 7 large photograph albums. The majority of photographs in these albums document John and Hilda Pendlebury’s travels and work in Crete. I was lucky enough to travel to Crete twice in April and to see some of the places documented, and so cataloguing the albums at this time has been particularly interesting. I will write more about my time in Crete in forthcoming blog posts.
Cataloguing the photograph albums has taken a long time because, like the travel logs, they are simply crammed full of photographs (the 5 albums catalogued so far contain around 1500 photographs). I am giving each photograph its own description, and some descriptions take more time to compile than others.
The descriptions take longer if:
I need to look up the place name in a thesaurus (as explained in my blog post of the 18th of December).
I don’t recognise a landscape or archaeological site (and they are not captioned) and then need to spend some time identifying the subject.
I have seen the photograph before, so need to find the duplicate for cross referencing. As explained in my previous blog post there is a lot of duplication of photographic prints in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive.
I have also been preparing the parts of the archive which have already been catalogued for digitisation. This preparation has included checking the numbering and packaging of items, and writing specific guidance for the digitisation of each section.
So far digital images of sections 1 and 2 have been captured on flat-bed and book-eye scanners (the correspondence and travel logs). The first 5 photograph albums have already gone off for digitisation and once the photograph section is finished, we’ll be halfway through the digitisation aspect of the project.
During the next few weeks, as well as liaising with the digitiser and transporting material to the digitisation office, I will continue cataloguing photographs in the collection. I have just started an album which contains over 900 photographs, so I imagine this may take some time. After the photograph albums are completed, I will move on to some loose photographs of Greece and Egypt, and family photographs.
During the past 4 weeks of the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive Project I have completed cataloguing the correspondence (though I may return to this section to add more detail), and begun cataloguing photograph albums.
The cataloguing of the correspondence (section 1) was completed with less detail than I was using to describe letters previously. This is so that this section will be ready for digitisation, as explained in my previous post. These less detailed catalogue descriptions still include a title, reference code, previous reference codes, level of description, covering dates, and extent and medium, for each item. The difference between these descriptions and the more detailed ones is that I have not described the content of the letters. I hope to be able to return to this section to add more detail at a later date.
The letters which I have catalogued in the past 4 weeks include: letters from Hilda Pendlebury to Herbert Pendlebury (John’s father) and Mabel Dickinson (John’s step-mother) sent just after she and John were married; letters to John’s parents about his education; and letters to Hilda’s mother and sister (Dora) from Hilda and John.
After completing the section of correspondence, I moved on to cataloguing photograph albums (in section 7). These are a priority because they are a slightly unknown quantity. What I mean by that is that each photograph is to be catalogued to item level and the number of photographs varies from album to album. There is also duplication of photographic prints between albums; between albums and loose photographs; between albums and negatives; and between albums and travel logs (section 2). This duplication needs to be checked and described in the catalogue (through cross-referencing) to avoid future confusion and digitisation of duplicates.
The first photograph album I catalogued is labelled “Album Mycenae: The Tholos Tombs of Mycenae & elsewhere with The Citadel of Mycenae & its Environs.” This contains plans, notes and photographs and represents John Pendlebury’s work documenting and understanding archaeological sites during his studentship at the British School at Athens (1927-1928).
The volume also contains some, seemingly unrelated, loose photographs of Knossos and a temple in Egypt. Some of these photographs took some time, a bit of detective work, and picking the brains of an archaeologist who knows the subject matter, to be able to catalogue them. It is really very helpful to be surrounded by specialists who know what a specific site looks like or what a type of pottery is called.
I have also started cataloguing a photograph album of Greece compiled by Hilda in 1927-1928. I’ve already noted a lot of duplication of photographs which are in John’s travel logs for the same period. This makes a lot of sense as John, Hilda, and other students or members of the British School at Athens, travelled in Greece together during these years and often shared photographs.
Next, I will continue cataloguing photograph albums (there are 7 of these) and then move on to family photographs and bundles of loose photographs. I am hoping to overcome some of the challenges presented by the loose photos (most of which are unlabelled) by cataloguing these after the other photographs. Some may be duplicate prints, or I may be able to identify them more easily as I’ll be more familiar with the subject matter.
Over the past 2 weeks I have completed cataloguing section 2 of the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive (records of travels and journeys); sorted a file of around 100 undated letters from John Pendlebury to his father (and succeeded in dating some of them); continued cataloguing correspondence; and prepared an order for archival repackaging materials.
The file of undated letters included 21 sent from Pembroke College, Cambridge, when John was a student (1923-1927). I had previously thought that these letters were missing from the archive, and wondered what had happened to them, so it was a relief to find that they were here after all. Subjects covered include John’s examinations, Herbert Pendlebury (John’s father) sending him academic notes, John’s contemporaries and tutors, and sporting activities.
Dating the letters from Pembroke College was fairly straight forward, as most were written on College paper or Hawks Club headed paper (a members-only social club for sportsmen at the University of Cambridge). Some of the other undated letters have presented more of a challenge. It has been necessary to read the letters carefully, look for any clues or events which may date the letters, and cross reference them with letters that do have a date. For example, I was able to roughly date some letters that mentioned using Uncle Stanley’s camera, as there is another dated letter in which John describes meeting Uncle Stanley who was generously giving him a large camera.
One of the undated letters gives an amusing glimpse into social and sporting life on an Egyptian Exploration Society excavation in Armant, Egypt, in January 1929. The camp had just received a delivery of hockey sticks and John writes…
“They improve the game immensely and are a great advantage, our game has gone up tremendously since we stopped using walking sticks”.
In another undated letter, John recounts how he had accidentally revealed himself to a dining room full of strangers in Munich during his trip across Europe with Bob Dixon in 1927.
The later part of the records of travels and journeys (section 2 of the archive) contains accounts of John and Hilda Pendlebury’s travels in Greece, written up by Hilda and with added photographs. These accounts were written after the events, and a small section was published as ‘A Journey in Crete’ in ‘Archaeology’ (Autumn 1964, Vol. 17, No. 3).
This last section of “records of travels and journeys” also contains a folder of information about travel routes in Crete which came from the British School at Knossos. This folder is part of an accession received from Sinclair Hood (Director of the BSA 1954-1962 and Honorary Curator at Knossos 1962-63). The folder seems to have been kept in Knossos for use by others wanting to travel around the island, and contains details of journeys made by John and Hilda Pendlebury but also by their contemporaries including Humfry Payne, Thomas Dunbabin and Mercy Money-Coutts.
Finally, I have decided how to repackage the material within the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive and prepared an order for the repackaging material. Perhaps not the most exciting or glamorous area of archive work, but certainly essential to the task of preserving the archive for future generations. Repackaging is particularly important for photographic material which is much more susceptible to environmental factors such as heat and humidity, and is often damaged by original packaging. The collection includes a variety of photographic negatives in different sizes, glass plate negatives, and many photographic prints (around half of which are in volumes such as travel logs or photograph albums).
Next, I will be returning to cataloguing correspondence. I will catalogue the next section of letters in less detail (than the earlier letters) in order to get them ready for digitisation. I’ll hopefully be able to return to the descriptions later and add more information, but for now getting the digitisation element of the project underway is a priority.
During the past 2 weeks of the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive Project (with a week-long break in the middle) I have finished cataloguing John’s travel logs, and seen a different perspective on things by cataloguing Hilda’s travel log (there is just one in the archive).
The last of John’s travel logs was very interesting, and includes some fantastic photographs. It covers a trip to archaeological sites in Iraq (including an Oriental Institute of Chicago excavation at Tell Asmar, and Babylon), Syria, Lebanon and Palestine in 1933; a 2nd trip to Palestine (with Hilda this time) in 1935; a journey from England to Egypt in November 1933 which included stops at Gibraltar and Pompeii; and a trip (which John took alone) to Sudan, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Egypt (where he met up with Hilda) in 1938. The volume also includes the less exotic locations of the Lake District (Oct 1933) and Hadrian’s Wall (Aug 1937), and photographs of a house in Cambridge that the Pendlebury’s must have been considering renting.
John’s travel log contains a photograph of a Nairn Car in Ramadi, Iraq. I did a little research about these to find out why John may have photographed it. It turns out that the Nairn Transport Company ran a service taking passengers between Beirut and Baghdad from 1923 to 1956, and that the Middle East Centre Archive at St Antony’s College in Oxford has the company’s archive.
Hilda Pendlebury’s travel log takes the form of a scrapbook containing a handwritten account, postcards and photographs. The handwritten account is of a trip to Italy (which is undated but judging by the content must have been between 1922 and 1925) which Hilda went on before she met John, and it seems that she travelled from the United Kingdom with a group of archaeologists to see sites around Rome, Naples and Florence. Following the account of her travels to Italy, the scrapbook does not contain any more handwritten accounts but does contain further (mainly unlabeled) photographs and postcards of Cambridge, Melrose Abbey in Edinburgh, Whitby, Venice, Athens, Rhodes and Crete, as well as photographs of John and Hilda’s wedding.
The photographs of Crete in Hilda’s travel log were unlabeled and hard to identify for the untrained (in archaeology) eye. Luckily I was able to cross reference these photographs with photograph albums of Crete within the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive. The photographs in Hilda’s scrapbook turned out to be duplicated in the photograph albums, where they were labeled.
As well as finishing off cataloguing the travel logs I have begun entering catalogue data into EMu (the BSA’s cataloguing software) which I discussed in week 5. I am getting to grips with the software which is a little different from systems that I have used before, and it feels good to have begun getting some of the data into its final form. Entering the data into EMu is a good opportunity to double check my catalogue entries, and to add information or correct things where details have become apparent through familarisation with the archive.
Next week I will continue entering data into EMu and continue cataloguing records of John and Hilda’s travels. Now I have pretty much finished the travel logs, the next section is comprised of accounts of John and Hilda’s travels written much later by Hilda (probably in preparation for a publication).
These past 2 weeks have been all about cataloguing the travel logs which I discussed in my previous post. I am currently part way through the 5th (of 6), and these have followed John and Hilda’s travels up to 1931 so far.
Most of the items in the travel logs are small photographs that have been stuck in and labelled by John. John’s captions should be very helpful when I come on to cataloguing the section of loose photographs (many of which are not labelled), as I believe there are possibly photographs printed from the same negatives or at least from the same occasions.
It has been interesting to look at photographs of places in Greece and Italy (John and Hilda visited archaeological sites in Sicily and mainland Italy from December 1929 to January 1930), but I have also enjoyed the photographs of people. Most of the people featured are mentioned in letters, or in other papers, in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive. Having photographs of these individuals helps to bring the papers to life.
Here are some of my favourites from the last 2 weeks.
This week I have had a break from cataloguing letters, and started cataloguing travel logs within the John Pendlebury Family Papers. Cataloguing the letters has been taking a long time as they are so detailed and there are so many of them (1125 in total). We decided it would be best for me to move on to another section for a while so that I can get some of the material ready for digitisation quicker, but also because the letters and travel logs relate to each other.
The travel logs that I am cataloguing now are from the same period as letters that I have already catalogued. They are helping me to add extra detail to the descriptions of the letters, and I am adding cross references into the descriptions for the letters and the travel logs. This should be helpful for future researchers.
At the beginning of the week the BSA Archivist and I discussed how to best structure the descriptions of the travel logs. The travel logs are notebooks with itineraries, descriptions and a lot of small photographs stuck inside. Each photograph is to be catalogued to item level and there will also be a higher level description of the volume. We thought about how things will be numbered in the digitisation process to make sure that everything has a unique reference number, and that the reference numbers for the digital images and physical items match up. We had to consider that double page spreads will be captured in the digitisation process, and whilst these are not to have their own catalogue description they will be numbered.
The travel logs in the John Pendlebury Family Papers are a series of 6 volumes. The first volume was compiled by Herbert Pendlebury (John’s father), whilst the others were compiled by John.
For the first travel log Herbert wrote out extracts of John’s letters sent home from Greece in 1923, and photographs have been added to the volume (presumably after John’s return). John had travelled to see archaeological sites with James Cullen (a young Classics master) during the Easter holidays of his final year at Winchester College. The travel log not only documents the pair’s tour of archaeological sites in Greece, but also their journey through Europe.
The travel logs are a fascinating and detailed record of John and Hilda’s travels in Greece and Sicily, and also John’s trips to Iraq, Syria and Palestine (in 1935) and East Africa (in 1938). I have found it very interesting to see John, Hilda and their travelling companions’ photographs of sites that I recognise in Athens and Corinth.
So far I have catalogued the first travel log from 1923, and partially catalogued “Greece 1927-28 Vol. I”. Next week I will continue cataloguing the travel logs.
This week I have been cataloguing letters from John to his father (Herbert) which were sent during John and Hilda’s first excavation season in Egypt (Nov 1928-Mar 1929), John’s first season as Curator at Knossos (Mar-Jul 1930), during a cruise around some of the Greek islands (Apr 1929), and from Athens, Sicily and Cambridge.
John’s future career looms large as a subject in the letters I have been cataloguing this week. There is discussion of a job offer from the British Museum, Herbert’s encouragement for John to accept a lectureship at Cambridge University (which John enthusiastically declined), John becoming the first recipient of the Macmillan studentship at the BSA, and accepted offers of the Curatorship at Knossos and Directorship of the Egyptian Exploration Society excavation at Amarna.
The archive shows that John was extremely pleased to receive the unexpected offer of the Directorship of the Amarna excavation. He writes…
“Amarna means a real chance of making a name – and what is more a definite position and hold on both sides. It is a great and famous site and it is the biggest compliment I have ever been payed to be asked to succeed such celebrities as Petrie, Borchardt, Peet, Woolley, Griffith and Frankfort”.
Other subjects covered in the letters include a dispute with Spyridon Marinatos (Director of the Candia Museum [Heraklion Archaeological Museum]), disagreement with conclusions in John’s article on ‘Egypt and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age’, publication of ‘Aegyptiaca’, and a cruise around the Greek Islands with Charles and Isabel Seltman.
This week I have been getting to grips with the Getty Geographical Thesaurus, a controlled vocabulary tool, to decide which version of place names to use. This tool is particularly important for cataloguing the material about Greece and Egypt, as there are quite a few variants of place names [partly due to differences in transliteration from different alphabets] . Using controlled vocabulary terms will help researchers look for material relating to places and ensure consistency in my cataloguing.
I will be taking a break over Christmas, but when I come back at the beginning of January I will continue cataloguing John’s letters to his father.
This week I have finished cataloguing John’s letters written to his father during his studentship at the BSA (British School at Athens) from November 1927 to May 1928. I have also completed the descriptions for letters that John sent to Herbert (his father) from London and Cambridge during the summer of 1928; and from Athens, the Peloponnese and Thessaloniki in September and October 1928.
The letters sent during John’s studentship contain information relating to an item in the museum collection at the BSA. The correspondence reveals that during a trip to Aegina John and Hilda “picked up” parts of a Minyan bowl near what John described as the temple of Aphrodite (probably the temple of Apollo). Later letters reveal that John gave the fragments of the bowl to the BSA’s collection and that it had been found in a “dump of sherds” left by a German archaeological team during their excavations at the temple. With the help of the BSA Archivist I looked for this item in the museum catalogue, and there it was – or what seems highly likely to be the same bowl.
The information from the John Pendlebury Family papers can be added to the museum catalogue to give the item more context. Here we have a clear example of how cataloguing a specific collection can enrich the overall knowledge of collections, particularly where there are these explicit links.
The letters sent from London and Cambridge in the summer of 1928 include Johns announcement of his engagement to Hilda. John quotes, what can be assumed was Herbert’s letter announcing his engagement to Mabel Dickinson, writing…
‘Your own style is best. “You will probably be surprised to hear that I am engaged” – to Hilda White who got back today from Greece.’
John and Hilda were engaged in June and married in September. They then returned to Greece for a week-long honeymoon in the Peloponnese and some work in Thessaloniki (sorting sherds from an excavation in Chalkidiki which John had been part of earlier that year).
The latest section of letters that I have catalogued describe the honeymoon, the work in Thessaloniki and arrangements for their journey to Egypt – John and Hilda’s next stop.
Next week I will be continuing to catalogue John’s letters to his father, beginning with his first dig season in Egypt.
Whilst completing the catalogue descriptions of John’s letters to his parents from Winchester College I discovered more about the terminology that I was puzzling over last week. This terminology is called ‘notions’. There have been official books of the terms published, and John refers to spending time learning them in his letters. The number of notions in use has declined over time, but there is still a current booklet which pupils of the College can purchase and a glossary of some of the terms on Winchester College’s website.
I also discovered that Winchester College Football is a distinct game from football, and that both are played at the College (and were played by John). Depending on the context and terminology used it is usually possible to determine which sport John was discussing in his letters. He was a very sporting pupil and as well as playing both types of football he took part in activities including competitive rifle shooting, cricket, fives, athletics (hurdles and high-jump) and the Steeplechase race.
John Pendlebury, High Jump in 1926. Copyright: The British School at Athens
John Pendlebury, Hurdles, 1925. Copyright: The British School at Athens
After finishing the first draft of the descriptions of John’s letters to his parents from Winchester, I checked through the descriptions again making additions and adjustments. I found I was able to make more sense of some of the letters once I had learnt more about the Winchester College environment and context that John was writing in.
I have now moved on to cataloguing John’s letters to his father which were written whilst he was based here, at the British School at Athens, from 1927-28. John arrived in November 1927 with a studentship and a task to trace all archaeological finds of Egyptian origin in Greece up to 664 BC. His letters to his father reveal first impressions of the British School and his fellow residents, including his future wife Hilda White.
…Miss White who alone of the lot strikes one as being at all human, she reminds me of Vera rather. The rest are definitely sub-human.” (20 Nov 1927)
“I only wish everyone wouldn’t be so obviously learned to the eyebrows. It makes me feel like such an impostor being here at all.” (20 Nov 1927)
The British School residents wasted no time in organising expeditions to other parts of Greece. The letters I have been cataloguing are full of descriptions of trips to Thessaly, the Argolid and Crete – which has prompted regular searches on Google maps!
John’s letters from Greece are written solely to his father. His mother, Lilian Pendlebury, had died of heart failure in September 1921 when she was only 50 and John was just 16. The archive does not tell us much of John’s reaction to this tragedy as there is a gap in the surviving correspondence between March 1921 and November 1927.
The only material within the John Pendlebury Family Papers dating from the mid-1920s are a few letters sent to Herbert about John from Winchester College and Pembroke College, a travel log of John’s travels in Greece in 1923, some school notebooks containing essays, and a hand-drawn plan of Tanagra (from John’s travels in 1923). I am not yet certain whether the letters from the schools to Herbert contain much about John’s reaction to the death of his mother, but this will become clear once they are catalogued.
So why is there a gap in the letters? Perhaps John ceased writing, or (as I believe to be more likely) the letters have been lost. He certainly did write to Herbert from Greece in 1923, as those letters were transcribed by Herbert into the 1923 travel log. Herbert moved to Malvern to live with his new wife, Mabel Dickinson (“Dickie”), in 1925. So perhaps the letters were lost in the move.
This week I will continue cataloguing John’s letters sent to his father from Greece in 1927-28, and then hopefully move on to his letters from London (when preparing for his marriage to Hilda White in 1928), Greece (during his honeymoon) and Egypt (1928-29).