- notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, Oxford. Opinions expressed are strictly the author's own!

Posts tagged “online resources

#WW1 – Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol 1912)

The BBC has a fascinating series of stories on their WW1 At Home site – here is an index of all the Oxford related ones. The one that interests me particularly is that of HS Malik, the first Indian pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.

I can recommend his autobiography, A Little Work, A Little Play, published by his daughter in (?)2010, as an excellent read of a fascinating life lived in decidedly interesting times on several continents. Here is a review.

There is not a great deal of information about HS Malik’s time at Balliol (1912-1915) in the College Archives, but what there is illustrates his long-standing enjoyment of college cricket, his WW1 flying career and his abiding friendship with FF Urquhart.

 

The series of photos is bookended by groups of ‘Past v Present’ cricketers from the college’s albums once kept in the cricket pavilion and documenting all college sport except rowing (which had its own set of albums) – HS Malik appears first in 1913 as a ‘Present’ and finally in 1931 as a ‘Past.’

In his first year at Balliol he is wearing his Eastbourne College cricket blazer; by the next year, he has a Balliol blazer. The informal, light-hearted snap at the Pavilion is from about the same time as the last, Trinity Term 1914, just weeks before war was declared.

The first of Sligger’s wartime photos, from May-June 1916, is the only one of Francis Urquhart and HS Malik together – at this time they will have been discussing ways for Malik to fulfil his desire to join either the French or the British air force. The next also predates HS Malik’s groundbreaking acceptance as an officer in the RFC – at this point, summer 1917, through FF Urquhart’s connections, Malik is working as an officer ambulance driver for the Croix Rouge Français. (Urquhart volunteered at the American Hospital in Neuilly -sur-Seine during University vacations.) The caption of the next two photos, also from Francis Urquhart’s own albums, marks a milestone for HS Malik and for the Service he entered – he has become a pilot in the newly-formed RAF (merger of RFC with Royal Naval Air Service in April 1918).

Though he took his History degree in 1915, HS Malik returns to college cricket as a ‘Present’ for the 1920-21 year, while undertaking mandatory studies preceding posting to the Indian Civil Service.

The last photo is once again a ‘Cricket Past and Present’ group – HS Malik and his family are back in England as he takes up the post of Deputy Trade Commissioner in the Office of the High Commission for three years from 1930. This posting to England came in time for Malik to see his friend and tutor again before Urquhart’s death in 1934.


reading closely

tcd1An interesting enquiry from last year, demonstrating that the internet is a brilliant research tool, but that like any source it needs careful interpretation, and that not all immediately available information is correct or complete.

The enquirer requests information on William Hussey 1867-1939, son of Thomas Hussey of Kensington, stating that the images sent with the enquiry, of a Ladies’ Challenge Cup medal,  clearly show that WH rowed for Balliol when they won that particular race in 1891.

The enquirer has probably searched for something like ‘ladies challenge cup 1891’ and found the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies’_Challenge_Plate for the Henley Regatta’s Ladies’ Challenge Plate race, won by a Balliol crew in 1891, and concluded that Hussey must have been part of this crew.

In fact the medal shows nothing of the kind, and a closer look reveals quite a different story.

First I checked whether William Hussey had indeed been a member of Balliol – the college registers are not 100% infallible, but they are pretty good. No result, so back to the medal for other clues. A little more scratching around online revealed several things that didn’t add up to support the Henley & Balliol assumption:

  • Date: Henley is always held over the first weekend in July, but 1 July 1891 was a Wednesday. (thanks Time and Date!)tcd2
  • Race name: the Ladies’ Challenge Plate race at Henley has never been known as the Ladies’ Challenge Cup – it is the only Henley trophy that isn’t the Something Cup.
  • Winner name: the LCP is an Eights race, not an individual one, so even if each member of the winning Eight had a commemorative medal, it would not be inscribed ‘won by [any single name]’. Cf. Henley commemorative medals at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18783/lot/59/, a particularly nice find after searching for images of the LCP medals for visual comparison.
  • Double-checking with another source – even supposing everything else was somehow wrong, we have a photograph of the Balliol Eight that did win the LCP in 1891; the rowers were: Rofe, Rawstone, Darbishire, Mountmorres, Fielding, T Rogers, Farmer, F Rogers, cox Craig-Sellar. Not surprisingly, no Hussey.

So if it was not at all connected with the Henley Royal Regatta or Balliol’s win there in 1891, what is this medal? Balliol-based evidence stops here, but ‘we have no further information about this’ seemed a bit abrupt when most of what I had already found out was from non-Balliol sources anyway. Besides, by this time I wanted an answer to the puzzle, if I could find one!

Look at it again – the intertwined letters on the medal look like T C D, in a distinctively Irish style, and Trinity College Dublin’s Regatta does include a Ladies’ Challenge Cup race. But to check up further, one might try looking at the club’s own site: http://www.tcdlife.ie/clubs/boat/archive.php. The answer is probably in Raymond Blake’s book, In Black and White: A History of Rowing at Trinity
College Dublin
. My research ends here; I can’t spend any more time on this enquiry, and the answer won’t add to knowledge of the Balliol archives.

And there are still questions: why should the medal read TCD when TCD’s boat club has been known as the Dublin University Boat Club since 1847? Is the DUBC (TCD) Ladies’ Challenge Cup race rowed by singles or eights? Is there any evidence at all that this is a rowing medal?

It’s rare that answers to archival enquiries are either complete or absolute – often, the best we can hope for is to add another interesting piece to the puzzle, or point in another direction.


Q&A: digitisation

I was recently asked: ‘I noticed that quite a bit of material from your archives has been digitized, and that you have put it to fine use by widening access to the collection on the website and through online exhibitions.  I wondered how you are going about digitizing the items – are you working in-house, or are you using an external organization to do it, or a mixture of both? Please could you tell me how this is being financed, and if you are aiming to digitize the whole archive or just a part?’ This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked about my digitization programme at Balliol, and it prompted a bit of an essay on how I do things now and how that has changed since I began in October 2010. So here’s is an update to what I was thinking then.

web1Who does the work?

I do the digitising myself – I have an excellent A3 scanner and a serviceable but outdated camera which I’m about to replace. I allocate a few hours a week to scanning & photography so that it progresses regularly, if not quickly, but I am posting about 2000 images a month these days.

The occasional exception is when someone wants to photograph an entire manuscript or series for their own research; in such cases I ask for copies of the images and permission to publish them online and make them freely available to other researchers, with credit to the photographer of course. So far the few people I’ve asked have been very happy to do this, since they have had free access and permission to photograph. (Sometimes their images are not as good as mine, so then I don’t bother!)

There are also numerous documents in the collections that are just too big for me to photograph – eventually, if and when they are asked for, we will have to think about having someone in to photograph them systematically. So far the multiple photos of each that I or the researcher have been able to do has sufficed.

For now at least, I have decided against a systematic digitisation of our microfilms of the medieval manuscripts. This would involve a lot of time and effort to fund and arrange, the images would all be black and white, and of variable quality, and there are knotty questions of copyright as well. Some of the MSS were only partly microfilmed, and none has more than a single full-page perpendicular view for each page – no closeups or angles to get closer to initials, erasures, annotations, marginalia or tight gutters, so there would still be considerable photography to do anyway. Also, see below.

Why don’t you apply for a grant and have a professional photographer do more than you can do yourself?

So far, I’m able to fulfil reprographics orders in a pretty timely manner and to a standard that satisfies enquirers. Aside from cost and time management for individual orders, because I can respond individually and fit them in around my other tasks, the great advantage of doing the digitisation myself is that I am getting to know the collections extremely well. If we had an outside photographer do it, all that direct encounter with each page would go to someone with no real interest in the collections, what a waste. This way,  I’m checking in a lot of detail for physical condition, learning to recognise individuals’ handwriting, discovering/replacing missing or misplaced items, prioritising items that need conservation or repackaging, noticing particularly visually attractive bits for later use in exhibitions and so on, and not least ensuring that items are properly numbered – which many are not!

What is the cost?

???????????????????Because I work reprographics orders into my regular work schedule, there is no extra cost, except the £50 or so fee every 2 years for our unlimited Flickr account.

Do you charge for access?

I always mention that donations are welcome, but in general I do not charge for reprographics. Most of the requests are from within academia, and I think HE institutions have a responsibility to be helpful and cooperative with each other and with the public, particularly when it comes to access to unique items. On the one hand, I know that special collections are extremely expensive to maintain, and often have to sing for their supper, but on the other I know how frustrating it is to be denied the chance to take one’s own photographs and then to be charged the earth for a few images. Institutions like ours, whose own members may need such cooperation from other collections and their curators, should probably err on the side of the angels er scholars! Most of the other requests for images are for private individuals’ family history research purposes, and since many of those enquirers would otherwise have no contact with Balliol or Oxford, I think it’s good for the relationship between college, university and the wider public to be helpful in this way. Family history is usually very meaningful to researchers, and they remember and appreciate prompt and helpful assistance.

Balliol College reserves the right to charge for permission to publish its images, but may waive this for academic publications.

Are you planning to digitise all the collections or just parts? What are your priorities and how do you determine the order of things to be done next?

Most of the series I’ve put online don’t start with no.1. All the reprographics I do now are in response to specific requests from enquirers, and I don’t seriously intend, or at least expect, to digitize All The Things. Although 40,000 images sounds like a lot, and there’s loads to browse online, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface; most collections aren’t even represented online – yet… This way, everything I post online I know is of immediate interest to at least one real person – if we did everything starting from A.1, probably most of it would sit there untouched. For the efficiency of my work and for preservation of the originals, digital photography is marvellous, enabling me to make every photo count more than once rather than having to photocopy things repeatedly over the years.

On the other hand, if someone asks for images of one text occupying only part of a medieval book, I will normally photograph the whole thing; or if the request is for a few letters from a file, I will scan the whole file. It’s more efficient in the long run, as a whole is more likely to be relevant to other future searchers than a small part.

What about copyright?

web2I probably should mark my own photos of the gardens, but I don’t think anybody will be nicking them for a book and making millions with it. As for the images of archives and manuscripts, of course I am careful to avoid publishing anything whose copyright I know to be owned by another individual or institution, but for older material that belongs to Balliol, I’m with the British Library on this one. I think as much as possible should be as available online as possible, for reasons of both access and preservation.

We do have some collections whose copyright is held by an external person or body, and in some of those cases I am permitted to provide a few images (not whole works) for researchers’ private use, but cannot put images online or permit researchers to take their own photos.

How do you make images available?

Now that other online media are available, I am reducing image use on the archives website,  to use it as a base for highly structured, mostly text-based pages such as collection catalogues, how-tos, research guides etc, as this information needs to be well organised and logically navigable. These days I am using this blog for mini-exhibitions discussing single themes and one image, or a few at a time.

Flickr is a good image repository for reference, not so much for exhibitions – I’ve written about that at http://balliolarchivist.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/thing-17/

I expect I will have rethought the digitisation process again in a couple of years’ time!


Alumni Oxonienses online

Good news for family historians and anyone else looking for information on individual former members of the University of Oxford – Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714 is online and searchable at British History Online, home of the digital Victoria County History and much else. The digitised volumes have been on archive.org for years, but this is certainly easier to use. Roll on 1714-1886…


Q&A: Officer cadets at Balliol during WW1

Q: The subject of my research was an Officer Cadet at Balliol during the First World War. What information does the college hold about him? Do you have any photographs?

A: During World War One, Balliol had two distinct populations. Some of the older Fellows and a much reduced student body (further reduced through each academic year as their commissions came up and they went into active service) carried on something of the ordinary academic life of the college. But Balliol’s premises, like those of most Oxford colleges, were largely given over to war work.

Balliol’s Broad Street site hosted thousands of British and Commonwealth officer cadets on short training courses. These men were not members of Balliol or of the University of Oxford; rather, the Army was in effect renting the property, and the college holds no administrative records of their time here. We have no lists of names or any other systematic records about the individual officer cadets or their activities during their few weeks staying in Balliol.

There are, however, a few isolated glimpses into the lives of officer cadets during their brief sojourns in Oxford. In 2005 an Australian bookseller wrote to us with the offer of a photo album created by one JH Brian Armstrong, a member of No 6 Officer Cadet Battalion at Balliol July – October 1917. There are no identifications of individuals in the album.

Balliol also holds copies of two numbers of ‘The Souvenir’, a journal produced by ‘A’ Company No. 6 Officers’ Cadet Battalion, of their time in Oxford: 10 Nov. 1917-26 Feb. 1918 and 5 April 1918 – 23 Oct. 1918.

We do not have copies of any other numbers of ‘The Souvenir.’ If you have copies of this invaluable resource that you are willing to share, please get in touch.

Images of the resources mentioned above and a few other pieces are available online here.

Not connected with Balliol but another publication by and for WW1 soldiers, the well-known trench magazine ‘The Wipers Times’ has recently been edited and published in full as The Wipers Times: The Complete Series of the Famous Wartime Trench Newspaper (Hardcover), Little Books, Jan 2006; ISBN 1-904435-60-2.

JM Winter’s chapter in Vol VIII of The History of the University of Oxford provides a useful survey of Oxford in the First World War.


FAQ: Balliol Boys’ Club

Q: I am looking for information about a former member of the Balliol Boys’ Club. What was the Balliol Boys’ Club and what information do you have about the members?

A: A club for the boys of the St Ebbe’s area of South Oxford was started with Balliol support in 1907 and consolidated in 1921 as a memorial to one of the founding student members, Keith Rae (TEK Rae, Balliol, 1907).   It flourished until the late 1960s, when it was swallowed by City developments.  The 1921 endowment survives as the Keith Rae Trust which supports Youth Clubs and similar organisations.

The place to start for any researcher is the published history of the Boys’ Club: A Short History of the Balliol Boys’ Club, 1907-1950, by Cyril Bailey, and a later update A History of the Balliol Boys’ Club 1907-1971 with John Roughley and other adding to Bailey’s work. Copies of both editions are often available through second-hand dealers on the internet – try searching with Bookfinder.

Balliol Boys’ Club Papers in the College Archives:
1. Minutes & Membership

  • A. Minute books, Balliol Boys’ Club Committee
    • 1906-1908
    • 1919-1923
    • 1924-1927
    • 1946-1950
    • 1957-1970
  • B. Register of members 1940-1946, with addresses, employers etc.
  • C. Address book, members and friends, n.d. (ca 1930)

2. Log books, recording daily attendances and activities.

  • 1907-1908
  • 1908-1909
  • 1909-1910
  • 1911-1912
  • 1912-1913
  • 1913-1914
  • 1914-1915
  • 1915-1916
  • 1916-1917
  • 1917-1919
  • 1919-1921
  • 1921-1922
  • 1922-1923
  • 1924-1926
  • 1926-1927
  • 1928-1930
  • 1931

3. Club History

  • A. Papers concerning the foundation and early days of the Club, 1906-1910.
  • B. Papers concerning a scheme to finance the emigration of Club members to Australia, including details of
    Herbert Poole and Frank Slatter, who sailed together 29 Jan. 1921.
  • C. Papers concerning the building and opening of Keith Rae House, including plans and correspondence with
    Edward Rae, 1921 [see also MBP 359].
  • D. Papers concerning an extension to Keith Rae House, 1933.
  • E. Newspaper cuttings, various dates.
  • F. Photographs, various dates.
  • G. Typescript, ‘A short history of Balliol Boys’ Club 1907-1950’, by Cyril Bailey (printed at Oxford 1950).
  • H. The Master’s file concerning the Club and Keith Rae Trust, 1950-1960.

4. Printed material

  • (a) Annual Reports
    • i. 1907-1908 to 1909-1910.
    • ii. 1919 and 1929-1930 to 1937-1938 lacking 1931-1932 to 1933-1934.
    • iii. 1966. Not found July 2003.
  • (b) Magazines
    • ‘The Balliol Club Magazine’,1913, 1914, 1915,
    • ‘The Club at War’, being the War Edition of ‘The Balliol Club Magazine’, issues 1-11 [complete], 1916-1919 [Cordeaux & Merry, University vol., 6774].
    • ‘The Balliol Club Magazine’, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1931 (“Volume 1”), 1932 (“No 2”), 1933 (“No 3″), 1935 (“No 5”), 1937 (no number) and 1938 (no number).
  • (c) Souvenir: ‘The Opening of Keith Rae House, Oxford. Saturday November 19th, 1921’.
  • (d) C. Bailey, ‘A Short History of the Balliol Boys’ Club, 1907-1950’, printed in Oxford 1950. There are also duplicates (in some cases several copies) of some of (b)-(d) above; see also MBP 32(2), MISC 43, MISC 79.6.

5. Accounts and financial papers including vouchers and paid cheques for some periods, 1907-1969.

6. Miscellaneous: including award certificates of various kinds (amateur dramatics; athletics); boxing programmes and related material; scraps; relics (trophies etc.).

7. Miscellaneous acquisitions 1986-1993: numerous photographs, cuttings and memorabilia.

8. Papers and correspondence concerning the closure of the Club 1971-3.

9. Arthur Greenwood’s Club Cricket Cap, Club badges and medals. Presented by Aubrey Greenwood, 1993.

10. Club badges presented by A.E. Marchetti and G. Wakeman, 1987; different from each other and the badge in 9. above.

11. The Club’s paid cheques 1932-1933.

12. The cap badge and medals of T.H.K. Rae, killed at Hooge 1915. Presented by Colin Rae 1993.

13. The printing block for the illustration of the new Club House which appears opposite p.24 in Bailey op cit (see 4(d) above).

14. An address by Edward Rae, Balliol Boys’ Club Anniversary Service 19 Nov. 1922.

These records are open to researchers and can be consulted in the usual way, in the college archives at St Cross Cross, Holywell, by prior appointment with the archivist.

The Balliol Boys’ Club magazines for 1913 and 1921 have been digitised and are available to view online here.

Aside from mentions in minutes, accounts of Club Camps etc, Balliol does not have in its records systematic membership lists or other personal information about the involvement of individual Balliol students or local Oxford boys in the Club.

The Balliol Boys’ Club war memorial now hangs in the college archives at St Cross Church, Holywell. All names on the memorial are listed online here.

Further reading:

Information re JA Cowles, a former member of the Balliol Boys’ Club, at the Canadian Letters and Images Project.


Bodleian Libraries

From exhibitions of medieval books to updates on the current construction in the New Bod, the Bodleian Libraries’ Youtube channel is another one to keep an eye on. Here’s Nick Millea of the Maps Department, talking about the Laxton Map:


 More about the Laxton Map:


Museum of the History of Science

The Youtube channel of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science – here’s an introduction from the director:

… but the ones about exhibitions and objects are more interesting!


horns of the dilemma

Access and preservation – pillars of the profession, or, the archivist’s Scilla and Charybdis

I detest being pushed into the role of curmudgeonly dragon, so I wish people would not request to ‘glance through’ (e.g.) 19th century literary papers because they like the subject’s poetry. This is just not a good enough reason to ask to handle fragile, light-sensitive documents that are 150 years old. Use of archives is normally the final step of primary research on a particular thesis (research question), after thorough investigation of secondary and published sources. And I will say so, because my first duty is to the college and the preservation of its collections – otherwise there will soon be nothing left! But thank goodness for digitisation and the huge increase in access it makes possible. I am as committed to increasing access to the information within the collections as I am to physical preservation of the originals.

While the corollary of  increased access via digitisation is increased preservation of the original, its flip side is decreased access to the original. I do not produce manuscripts that have been digitised except for codicological queries that truly cannot be answered by consulting the facsimile. There is something special about direct contact with an ancient codex, but the fact is that every exposure to light, fluctuations in temperature and humidity and handling, however careful, inevitably causes cumulative and (at least in the case of light) irreversible damage to paper and parchment.

Access and preservation often pull in opposite directions, and the needs of the reader and those of the archives can appear to be in conflict. But archivists have to hold these two poles in some kind of balance, because without preservation there will soon be no access, and without access – and I emphasise that in most cases the important thing is access not necessarily to the physical objects but to the information they contain – preservation would be pointless.


medieval manuscripts links

Mostly but not all illuminated manuscripts images links, from the no longer functioning and soon to be defunct Medieval Manuscripts Appreciation Society on facebook. Bah to the obsolescence of ‘old groups’ – they worked fine for us users, but didn’t serve the corporate purposes of facebok very well. Some of these are from other members of the group, whom I’ve anonymised as ‘contributor’.

Royal Library of the Netherlands: http://www.kb.nl/menu/webexposities.html
– the Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts databank is brilliant, but don’t miss the other medieval web exhibitions.

British Library: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html
– the Sforza Hours, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Sherborne Missal, the Luttrell Psalter…

Also the BL’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/welcome.htm

National Library of Wales Digital Mirror: http://www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=122  Archives section, Manuscripts section

Early Manuscripts at Oxford University: http://image.ox.ac.uk/

Bodleian Western Manuscripts: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/medieval/browse.htm

National Library of Scotland: http://www.nls.uk/digitallibrary/index.html
-Murthly Hours, Auchinleck MS, early printed books and more…

European Libraries Portal (formerly GABRIEL): http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/exhibition/treasures/index.html and many other exhibitions

Royal Library, Copenhagen – Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts: http://www.kb.dk/da/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/mdr.html

National Library of Norway: http://www.nb.no/opplevelser/tidligere_nettutstillinger
– Norwegian only, but see the AMAZING Schøyensamlingen (now on an independent website, and I wish the nb.no would provide a link from their site) which is in English; also some of the monthly features.

Illuminated Manuscripts in French Libraries http://www.manuscritsenlumines.fr/
Three large online databases of iconography index and describe the illuminated manuscripts preserved in the public libraries of France (Enluminure: municipal libraries, Liber Floridus: libraries of institutions of higher education, Mandragore: National Library of France). There is a good search facility which includes an iconographic search; apparatus and search terms are in French only, but each search field includes an index of terms to browse.

Manuscripts of the West Midlands  www.mwm.bham.ac.uk

The Centre for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark: http://www.chd.dk/ English language site, brilliant source for technical information on the contents of Books of Hours for professionals and gifted amateurs.

The Hypertext Book of Hours: http://medievalist.net/hourstxt/home.htm Simple, easy-to follow Book of Hours in English and Latin

Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University and Minnesota , which has the world’s largest depository of renaissance and medieval manuscripts on microfilm. http://www.hmml.org

Cambridge Illuminations http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/cambridge_illuminations/medieval.htmhttp://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/cambridgeilluminations/

Cologne library http://www.ceec.uni-koeln.de/ contributor notes ‘For anyone who researches the 12th century, the Cologne library offers manuscripts containing fairly early versions of the Glossa ordinaria to many biblical books.’

St Gall library http://www.cesg.unifr.ch/en/

Medieval Imaginations: Literature and Visual Culture in the Middle Ages .“’Medieval Imaginations’ provides a database of images to enable you to explore the interface between the literature and visual culture of medieval England. It has been compiled to provide images corresponding to the main episodes dramatized in the English Mystery Plays, because these present the medieval view of human history from the Creation to the Last Judgement. These biblical stories, and images related to them, would have been instantly recognisable to a medieval audience.” http://med-imag.english.cam.ac.uk/

Illuminierte Handschriften aus Österreich (ca. 780 – ca. 1250)http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Martina.Pippal/hssdata.htm

Internetquellen zu Handschriften http://www.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/webmania/lhsn.html

Manuscripta Medievalia http://www.manuscripta-mediaevalia.de/

Beinecke rare Book & MS Library at Yale http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/

The Medieval Scriptorium http://www.medievalscript.com/

Contributor notes: ‘Aberdeen University Library’s Special Collections has some beautiful manuscripts – the Burnet Psalter and the Aberdeen Bestiary are just two examples. ‘http://www.abdn.ac.uk/historic/Online_collect.shtml

contributor notes: ‘Glasgow University Library\’s Special Collections has some great online exhibitions, including the most recent \’World of Chaucer\’ exhibition’: http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/index.html’ and the newer site at http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/specialcollections/virtualexhibitions/

The first stage of a major cooperation between Stanford University and the parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is now online at http://parkerweb.stanford.edu/ You need to log in via ?institutional only? subscription to see much.

contributor notes: For those interested in Greek manuscripts, there is a site by the monastery of Simonopetra (Mt Athos) with photos and catalogue of its mss and archive.
http://www.athosmemory.com/en/

Contributor notes: ‘If you wanted to look at some select Irish manuscripts see, ‘Irish Script on Screen’ on http://www.isos.dias.ie/ if you register you get to look at even better quality images .’

Contributor notes: ‘for MSS that are potentially useful rather than aesthetic: http://aalt.law.uh.edu/ , http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/

Digital Scriptorum: http://www.scriptorium.columbia.edu/

Contributor notes: ‘The good folks at [the Societa Internazionale di Studi Francescani at] Assisi have put high-res colour images of all their mediaeval manuscripts online at:

http://88.48.84.154/bbw/jsp/volumes/?fl_cerca=S&text&ds_shelfmark&id_library=0&id_creator&order=2&limit=9999 Unfortunately, you can’t download them or zoom in, but you can adjust your browser to show pages at a higher magnification.’ Don’t be put off by the horrible URL – it’s right!

Contributor notes: ‘the Beinecke Library at Yale has a great digital images database:
http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/. Use the Finding Aid to get MS Numbers first though: http://webtext.library.yale.edu/finddocs/fadsear.htm

Morgan Library’s digital collection: http://utu.morganlibrary.org/

DIAMM (Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music): http://www.diamm.ac.uk/index.html

Contributor notes: ‘For digital surrogates of entire medieval manuscripts, which you can page through and download onto your desktop, try: http://issuu.com/groups/medievalmanuscripts The Walters Art Museum is publishing all its illuminated manuscripts as surrogates under a Creative Commons copyright. If you know of any manuscripts that you can upload, you could add them to Issuu, and to this communal site.’

Manuscripta Mediaevalia (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich): http://www.bsb-muenchen.de/Manuscripta-Mediaevalia.176+M57d0acf4f16.0.html or http://www.manuscripta-mediaevalia.de

Bangor Pontifical – http://www.bangor.ac.uk/archives/bangorpontifical.php.en (Welsh and English)


links

A few links to digital projects using early records, compiled yesterday at the Gerald Aylmer seminar @the IHR, illustrating how digital technology can be used to reflect, explain, illustrate medieval diplomatic – Lucia Duranti would be pleased :

These projects are wonderful, and are only scratching the surface of worlds of new ways to explore old documents. But what was pointed out repeatedly yesterday is that dwindling numbers of people are able to get to grips with the handwriting, language or structure of the originals, and what wasn’t asked was… how many people actually use this resource?

Lots of exciting projects from KCL’s Centre for Computing in the Humanities here, UCL Digital Humanities here. I had no idea that there was any coordinated aproach to Digital Humanities at Oxford – there kind of is: https://dighumdb.oerc.ox.ac.uk


Q & A – digitisation

Q: The manuscript scans on flickr are very exciting! Are there plans for a full systematic digitization? And do you take requests?

A: Thank you! Most of the medieval manuscript books have been microfilmed over the years and I’m looking into digitisation of the microfilms in the first instance, as less invasive for the MSS. Whether we go ahead with that depends on cost and quality of the end product – I’m not convinced scratchy b/w films are worth it, but on the other hand most of our MSS are unornamented, so little information is lost in black and white.

Obviously digital images would be better (colour for one thing) and images like those on Early Images at Oxford for all the MSS would be the ideal, but there isn’t budget or time for that, so the digitisation I do so far is in reaction to specific scholarly requests (hence often partial) rather than systematic. It also depends on the physical state of the manuscript – we’re part of the Colleges Conservation Consortium but of course it’s a long process.

As far as digitising the archives is concerned, again it’s reactive rather than systematic and is subject to preservation considerations. After about 1550 many of the documents are bigger than A3, sometimes A2 or even bigger; they’ve always been stored folded down to A4 or smaller, and there’s just no way I can scan those. But the little medieval deeds, though several hundred years older, are generally easily scannable. It’s a question of time and priorities – eventually they would make an excellent basis for an online palaeography learning resource, as well as for the information they contain.


some recent links

The Cult of Beauty: the Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900. Balliol’s portrait of Swinburne by William Bell Scott will be appearing in this spring exhibition at the V&A, starting in April. More Pre-Raphaelites than you can shake a paintbrush at. College portraits are indexed here.

Medieval manuscripts: images from Balliol MS 384 are now available on flickr. 384 is a 15th century Book of Hours – one the few liturgical books in the collection and also one of the few medieval volumes that was not created as part of the college’s working library. Donor unknown, but it was probably given to Balliol in the 18th century.

Africa Through a Lens: Interesting public-input project from The National Archives at Kew – thousands of photos from the Africa Office are now online, and TNA is asking for help to identify them. There are probably photos taken by – and possibly of – the Balliol men then in Africa. Recognise anyone, anywhere?


Memorials

Photos of most of the memorials in the main body of Balliol chapel now on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/sets/72157625500972456/ . See also a complete list of memorials at http://archives.balliol.ox.ac.uk/Past%20members/memorials.asp.


images of early manuscripts

Complete sets of excellent high-resolution images of eight of Balliol’s medieval manuscripts are online as part of the Early Manuscripts at Oxford University. Balliol’s collection comprises:

MS. 238A-E Domenico Bandini (d. 1418), Fons memorabilium uniuersi, an encylopaedia in Latin, here in a set of five volumes possibly from an original six (lacking Part V Book i): made c. 1444-8 for William Gray (d. 1478), later Bishop of Ely, during his travels in Germany and Italy, and bequeathed with his library to Balliol College. The various scribes and illuminators, perhaps working largely at Cologne, display an international range of influences: Dutch, Italian, English, even Spanish. Illuminated initials and borders sometimes include Gray’s coat of arms.
 

MS. 350 Three independent manuscripts bound together: (fols. 1-42) transcript, c. 1160-70, of the part of Domesday Book relating to Herefordshire, in Latin; and copies of two well-known treatises on English law, (fols. 43-72) ‘Glanvill’, in Latin, early 13th century, and (fols. 73-170) ‘Britton’, in French, early 14th century.
 

MS. 353 Miscellany of Welsh verse and other materials in Welsh and Latin, in the hand of Sir John Prise, c. 1540-50.
 
MS. 354 Richard Hill of London, commonplace-book in English, Latin and French, including transcripts of late medieval poems and carols, London annals, family memoranda, etc., first third of the 16th century.


Follow an archive

Today, apparently,  is #followanarchive day on Twitter. So follow an archive! Balliol Archivist does not tweet. I have work to do…

… P.S. The above is no longer true – Balliol Archivist does tweet, @balliolarchives.


update

HE Salter’s Oxford Deeds of Balliol College (OHS 1913), an invaluable source of transcripts of our medieval deeds about the Broad Street site and properties within Oxford, is now online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/sets/72157625224325659/


early college education

A useful note about the early development of colleges in Oxford:

‘Before these Colleges were erected, the scholars who were educated in the Halls or Inns subsisted there at their own expence, or that of opulent Prelates or Noblemen ; but many of the youth of the kingdom, and perhaps the greater part, were educated in St. Frideswide’s Priory, Oseney Abbey, and other religious houses in Oxford and its vicinity. As the Colleges, however, increased in the number and value of their endowments, the scholars and dependents on religious houses began to decrease.

‘In Colleges, at first, none were educated but those who were admitted upon the foundation ; but when learning, and the love of learning, began to be more extensively diffused, those establishments were resorted to by independent members, under the names of Commoners, and Gentlemen Commoners.’

- Alexander Chalmers, A history of the colleges, halls, and public buildings attached to the University of Oxford, including the lives of the founders, ill. by a series of engravings (1810)
(2 vols)
available online at http://www.archive.org/details/historyofcollege02chaluoft


book link

Full transcriptions of historic statutes of Oxford Colleges, in 3 volumes. Balliol is first in the first volume. NB these are transcripts, not translations, so early documents are in Latin.
http://www.archive.org/details/statutesofcolleg01univuoft


Oxford and Oxford Life, ed. J Wells (2nd ed, 1899).

Helpful chronicle of the important changes in University and College admission and examination procedures in the late 19th century.


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