Marie Stopes emerges from the stores after 104 years (a bit dirty, but otherwise fine)

I’ve been spending much of this week reorganising the geology stores. The main job is trying to work out a plan for moving the large geology specimens from our Oversize store downstairs to the basement so that we can use the objects more easily.

As you can see from the photo the Oversize store is rather full and the objects are difficult to get at. The first step is to move the smaller objects into new drawers.

The Oversize store

One job I’ve been putting off is sorting through some filthy bags of coal balls. Coal balls are concentrations of fossil leaves, stems and flowers from about 300 million years ago.

Coal balls before they were moved and repacked

Coal balls before they were moved and repacked

As I was sorting through the bags and putting the specimens in new bags and card trays, I came across some labels.

The labels turned out to be written by Marie Stopes (best known as a social reformer) who worked at the University as a geologist in the early 1900s. Her research on coal balls transformed our understanding of fossil plants. We have around 50 specimens collected by Marie Stopes, but until yesterday I did not know these existed.

They are now safely stored and documented ready for researchers and anybody else to look at them!

The coal balls in their new home


One Response

  1. Long overdue someone doing new research on coal balls. They’ve been sitting in store in Manchester, Bolton, and Burnley waiting for it for 30+ years.

    Nearly got something going with Birmingham Uni a few years back, but never happened in the end.

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