We will start our subject librarian introduction with Argula Rublack. She’s originally from Germany but moved to the UK to study her BA in History at King’s College London. After that she specialised in Medieval Studies and Digital Humanities at postgraduate taught level. She started in Senate House Library as a cataloguer and says that she was lucky enough to join the Collections team in 2019. We interviewed her and asked her some questions about the collections on social, economic, and cultural history.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the job as a librarian!
Besides that, I reach out to students and staff in the School of Advanced Study and across the University of London to promote our collections. One of our most popular outreach activities during the pandemic have been online induction sessions on different themes such as Victorian culture or Black London history and literature. I also co-organise an event each year together with the Institute of Historical Research Library, called History Day. It’s a free one-day event that aims to bring together students and researchers with information professionals from libraries, archives and research organisations.
The collection on social, economic, and cultural history holds a vast variety of items ranging from the Commonwealth to LGBTQIA+ history. Do you have any tips on navigating the collection?
Transnationalism as a concept has been very influential to many interdisciplinary studies over the past decades. How is that reflected in the collection?
Movements such as decolonizing the curriculum and Black Lives Matter have had a big impact on society and education in the past few years. What impact have they had on this collection?
Are there any hidden treasures in the collection and what is your personal collection highlight?
Speaking of transnational connections… one of my favourite items in the collection is maybe not visually exciting but it tells a fascinating tale of the history of mathematics in the 19th century British Empire. It is a mathematical treatise written by British-Indian mathematician Ramchundra, which is part of our De Morgan collection on the history of mathematics, collected by British mathematician Augustus De Morgan. De Morgan first became aware of Ramchundra’s work in 1850, when he published it in Calcutta and was so impressed that he sponsored its publication in England. One of SHL’s copies has their correspondence inserted into the volume. You can see it in our 150th anniversary online exhibition. That Ramchundra needed De Morgan’s help in promoting his work tells us a troubling story about imperial hierarchies, in which talented scholars were not recognised. It’s an issue that until this day affects the world of scholarly publishing and academic exchange.