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Victorian Popular Culture Database Provides Important Resource to New U Class

“The Victorian Popular Culture database is particularly important as it consists largely of ephemera. These are historical sources that were not produced to last and thus have survived largely by chance,” explained Professor Nadja Durbach, a Professor of History at the University of Utah. She has been working with Mary Ann James, Electronic Resources Manager at the J. Willard Marriott Library, to incorporate the newly acquired Victorian Popular Culture database into Durbach’s curriculum. “Collections of ephemera are much rarer than other types of historical documents and shed light on the daily lives of historical subjects. In this case they can tell us how nineteenth-century people across the class spectrum amused themselves.”
One of the ways that the people of the nineteenth-century amused themselves was through song. For example, “I’ve Only Been Married a Week” by Charles Austin was recorded in 1911 and is a prime example of how issues of marriage, domesticity, and sexuality can be researched through their music.

Victorian Popular Culture thus introduces students to the flowering of a consumer society in which many people had the money and the time to spend on leisure and thus participated in the rise of mass forms of entertainment,” continued Professor Durbach. She plans to use the music selections as well as other media from the database in an upcoming “Victorian Britain” class.

In addition, the Victorian Popular Culture database contains primary sources, such as selected video clips from the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archive spans the formative years of film, 1894-1926. An extensive image gallery of ephemera, books and objects all digitized for easy viewing.

“Primary source databases are crucial as they allow students access to historical documents that they would never otherwise have access to. This allows them not only to read about history, but to participate in writing it. Without these original documents students would not have the opportunity to do their own historical research and thus to contribute to our knowledge about the past.”


– Professor Nadja Durbach,
Professor of History

“Victorian Popular Culture has wide ranging research applications across the University of Utah campus,” explain Mary Ann James. “Faculty and students from the Departments of Film & Media Arts, Art and Art History, English, Communication, Medical Humanities, Dance, Gender Studies, Music, and Theatre as well as the Social Sciences will find a wealth primary source materials to explore, study and use in research”.

For more information on this upcoming class, contact Nadja Durbach. For questions and more information on this and other databases, contact Mary Ann James.

Major contributors to Victorian Popular Culture are:
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