Ref NoMS 2724/5
TitleHoward Shakespeare Pearson Topographical Photographs (c1890s - 1920s)
LevelSub Collection
DescriptionThe majority of these prints appear to have been cut from other sources and were mounted on high-quality dark blue mounting boards. They were all labelled in a fairly standardised way by Pearson himself, with a running number sequence from 1 onwards, with the title and the initials or in some cases the full name of the photographer. In most cases the initials of the photographer reflect the names of people involved with either the WPS or the BPS (i.e. H.N. = Herbert New, W.A.C. = William Archer Clark, T.C. = Thomas Clarke etc).

Unfortunately no lists or indexes of the collection exist so there is no real provenantial information available on Pearson's methodology for collecting. The images are very similar in subject matter to the core WPS Collection but are not exact copies of Survey prints of similar areas covered. This shows that the Pearson collection was intended to compliment the areas of the region insufficiently covered or not covered at all by photographic survey work by the WPS.

Many of the mounting boards of the prints give a phonetic geographical code relating to the area in which the photographs relate to, either written on the front or back of the photograph. Again the rationale behind this system is unclear; they might be some kind of a page numbering sequence that relate to the order in which the prints appeared in their original albums before these were broken up, with the individual print numbers appearing beside each photograph on the page.

In a few cases the original number was scratched off at a later date. With the absence of any indexes, hand lists or catalogues for the original series prior to it being re-organised along with the rest of the WPS Collection in the 1970s these prints have been temporarily arranged as part of Series MS 2724/5/Z below until more information becomes available. The rest of the collection appears below as MS 2724/5/1 onwards.
AdminHistoryHoward Shakespeare Pearson (1838 - 1923) was born in Birmingham. After serving an apprenticeship to a local merchants firm he entered his father's stationery business. Eventually choosing an academic path, Pearson was one of the first students of the Midland Institute. His subjects of specialism were English Literature and History. He became a teacher of English Literature at the Institute in 1874, a position he held for 40 years until his retirement in 1914, and his classes proved very popular with both students and teachers.

Pearson was a member of the Central Literary Organisation from 1860 (for records of the Central Literary Organisation see MS 3141). He was made President of that organisation three times, as well as being a member of its Editorial Committee and a regular contributor to the Central Literary Magazine. He was also a member of the Birmingham City Council Public Libraries Committee from 1893 until 1922 and he held several sub-committee chairmanships. For many years he was Chairman of the Subscribers to the Birmingham Shakespeare Library.

He also took a keen interest in archaeology and for sixteen years served as Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham Archaeological Society until his retirement in 1916. He was a notable lecturer and writer in the fields of local history and archaeology and many of his printed works appear in Birmingham’s library collections.

Pearson kept numerous scrapbook volumes of newspaper cuttings, manuscript extracts, letters and illustrations, most of which form the Pearson Collection. The material dates from the late eighteenth century up until the year of Pearson's death, and covers mainly Birmingham, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, as well as other parts of the country. Most of these (including a handwritten index accession 309909) comprise a sequence in the Local Studies stacks except for one volume of manuscript material dated c1774 - 1922 which was transferred to Archives (ref: MSS K/1 387750).

His scrapbooks were bequeathed to Birmingham Reference Library in September 1923 just after his death along with two additional volumes of photographic illustrations relating mainly to Birmingham, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (accessions 310047 - 310048). These were kept apart from the main scrapbook collections and integrated into the WPS Collection. Like the albums of WPS and HPS prints, the Pearson albums were broken up to form blocks of flat prints and filed in the new geographical sequence when the Warwickshire Collection as a whole was reorganised around the early 1970s.

As a member of the City Council’s Public Libraries Committee, Pearson had an interest in the WPS. On 10 July 1893 he read a paper on the Survey before the Congress of Archaeological Societies in union with the Society of Antiquaries, which was published in the 'Antiquary' journal, Volume XXVIII, Number 166.

His name appears in the WPS minutes and reports before 1923, particularly the late 1910s when the Survey Council was trying to procure prints from other sources to fill gaps in the collection. It was intended that Pearson's photographic illustrations, as well as the HPS prints and material from other sources, would be added to the core WPS Collection to compliment the resource.

For more biographical information about Pearson see A.S. Chovil's tribute 'In Memoriam Howard Shakespeare Pearson, M.A. (May 15th 1838 - September 14th 1923)', published in 'The Central Literary Magazine', Volume XXVI, Number 4, (October 1923), pp. 155 - 160.
CreatorNameHoward Shakespeare Pearson (Various photographers)
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