Many sources provide a richer picture
This week is International Archives Week, marking the foundation of the International Council of Archives (ICA), under the auspices of UNESC0, on 9 June 1948. This year the event also celebrates 75 years of the ICA’s work to promote the importance of records and archives and the work of those who care for them.
To celebrate, Special Collections and the University Archives and Records Management team have come together to show how the different archival collections we care for can be used together to explore the history of the University.
A hundred years ago, work was well underway on the new Auckland University College Building on Princes Street, now known as the ClockTower. The building was designed by architects Roy Lippincott and Edward Billson and built by Fletchers Construction Company. The detail above, of the exquisite mosaic floor for the foyer, comes from the collection of original ClockTower drawings held by Special Collections as part of the Architecture Archive.
The laying of the foundation stone by the Prime Minister, William Massey on Wednesday 23 May 1923 at 3pm was an important milestone in the building’s construction. This telegram from the Prime Minister’s office held as part of the University’s administrative archives shows that they, not the University, suggested the date for the event.1
The well attended event opened with an address from the Chairman of the College Council, George Fowlds. Lippincott then presented a trowel to the Prime Minister and the foundation stone was laid. More speeches followed with the Prime Minister; Minister of Education, Christopher (James) Parr, and Mayor of Auckland, James Gunson addressing the crowd.2
While the details of the afternoon and a summary of the Prime Minister’s address can be found in the newspapers of the time, now easily accessible online, the invitation above and related programme provide a more tangible link to the event.3 The quality of the invitation evokes the importance of the occasion while the programme, also beautifully printed, outlines the proceedings for the afternoon. Both were carefully saved by Professor Algernon Thomas, an early science professor who attended the ceremony and are held in his extensive papers in Special Collections.
A deeper dig in the archival collections held by Te Tumu Herenga might uncover other items relating to this event, perhaps a copy of George Fowlds’ address, or an order form for the foundation stone.
- Find out more about the work of the International Council of Archives
- Learn more about Professor Algernon Thomas visit the display outside Special Collections, Level G, General Library | Te Herenga Mātauranga Whānui until Friday 23 June.
- Read more about the ClockTower.
- View a photograph of the foundation stone being laid from Auckland Libraries photographic archives.
- Contact Special Collections or the University Archives and Records Management teams
Marzieh Cameron, Sarah Cox and Katherine Pawley.
Featured image: Lippincott and Billson.(1924). Mosaic floor to rotunda and vestibule. Detail no. 172. Lippincott Collection. LP2. Architecture Archive.
1 Telegram from William Massey to George Fowlds, 3 May 1923. General Correspondence – 1923. University of Auckland Administrative Archives
2 Auckland University: new Arts Building foundation stone laid. (24 May 1923). New Zealand Times. p.3.
3 Invitation to laying of the foundation stone, 23 May 1923. Social ephemera and photographs. Sir Algernon Thomas papers. MSS & Archives A-54, folder 1/9, Special Collections, University of Auckland.