– 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!


display from the college archives

A small display in Balliol’s Historic Collections Centre at St Cross Church, Holywell, for the Friends of Reading Abbey, 8 July 2015

Copy of DSCN0076


scan of seal dorse presented with reading copy of deed and transcript adapted slightly from Salter


display case with original deed and supporting facsimiles and transcript


original deed was flattened long ago – conservators probably wouldn’t do this now, but it does make it easier to display


with much-magnified scan print of seal face – beautiful and in pretty good shape


recto of document, face of seal


detailed scan of seal face


verso of document, with endorsements, and seal


black and white contrast-tweaked crop of the document for easier reading of the text

Copy of DSCN0073Transcription:

Oxford, Balliol College Archives D6.21 Gifts by the abbot of Reading towards the building of the chapel of St Katherine.         

1 January 1327/8. [Salter Oxford Deeds of Balliol College 584, adapted slightly]

1 Nouerint uniuersi per presentes  quod dominus Nicholaus de Quappelade dei gracia Abbas Radyng’ liberauit sco

2 laribus domus de Balliolo in Oxonia viginti libras sterlingorum pro anima Ade le Poleter burgensis Radyng’

3 ad fabricam capelle sancte Katerine eiusdem domus. Item dedit predictus Abbas prefatis scolaribus decem marcas

4 argenti ad fabricam capelle predicte quas ab eodem Abbate per duo scripta obligatoria prius ex mutuo receperunt.

5 Dedit eciam predictus Abbas prefatis scolaribus unam fenestram vitream precii decem librarum & amplius

6 pro capella supradicta. Summa tocius xxxvj libras xiij s. iiij d. Item dedit eis meremium, lathes, & alia minuta

7 cum cariageo eorundem, que hic in specie non numerantur. In cuius rei testimonium tam predictus Abbas quam predicti

8 scolares presenti intenture alternatim sigilla sua apposuerunt. Hijs testibus magistro Thoma Othom tunc

9 Cancellario Uniuersitatis Oxon’, magistro Nicholao de Luceby tunc custode predicte domus, magistro Nicholao de

10 Tyngewyk’ & custode sigilli communis predictorum scholarium & multis alijs. Et remanebit una pars huius

11 indenture penes predictos scolares & alia pars penes custodem altaris capelle beate Marie virginis infra

12 Abbathiam Radyng’. Dat’ apud Radyng’ die veneris in festo Circumcisionis domini  Anno domini millesimo

13 Tricentesimo vicesimo septimo.

Red seal 2.5 in x 1.75 in, bishop [?abbot] in mitre and chasuble, with book and pastoral staff. Legend: S’ NICHI’ DEI GRA… [?EPISCOPI] …ILCE.SIS.

Copy of DSCN0075


A number of other documents from early in the college’s history were also on display, and visitors were interested in the history of the building and the other print and manuscript special collections kept as St Cross as well as the college’s administrative records. Our student intern explained his summer research project, working on another part of the college archives: the library’s 17th century book borrowing registers. Stay tuned here for some of his findings later in the summer…




Copy of DSCN0072

Digital images of medieval manuscripts

What an encouraging tweet exchange this morning:

Daniel Wakelin @DanielWakelin1
@balliolarchives Balliol’s energetic use of Flickr was one of our inspirations to experiment with this medium for ‪#‎DIYdigitization‬ @BDLSS.

Balliol Archivist ‏@balliolarchives
@DanielWakelin1 @BDLSS WOW. That has made my day.

Daniel Wakelin ‏@DanielWakelin1
@balliolarchives Truly. Your ‘roll up my sleeves and get on with it’ process of #DIYdigitization. @BDLSS may want to interview you about it.

Balliol Archivist ‏@balliolarchives
@DanielWakelin1 @BDLSS Always happy to talk about opening access to manuscripts :D

YES. Big grants are great but one person with one camera can get a lot done even in an hour or two here and there (my photography has to fit in along with all the rest of the job) and make a real difference – and, it seems, not just to the individual researchers who request particular images but to institutional policy and approaches to openness of access. Lovely to find my hunch (gut feeling/considered professional opinion) is turning out to be correct. Keep on clicking!

Do you have photos of manuscripts held in Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries? now you can make them available to other researchers via their Special Collections #DIYdigitization‬ group: have a look! https://www.flickr.com/groups/bodspecialcollections

There are instructions for naming/shelfmarking/tagging your uploads so others can find them, and so photos of the same ms from different contributors can find each other.

Balliol researchers are encouraged to do the same https://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/collections/72157631849081491/ 

Opening access to archives and manuscripts, one click at a time…

monthly report June 2015

A few numbers about what was happening at St Cross during June:

  • Number of enquiries (email etc): 82
  • Number of researchers in person: 9
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 10
  • Collections consulted: Nicolson diaries (2), medieval mss (3), JL Strachan-Davidson Papers, Pyper papers, Hope Simpson papers
  • No of non-research visitors: 30+  (SCR private view 10, Unlocking Archives talk ca 20, individual visitors)
  • blog posts: 2
  • interesting events: private view of the Greene-Reid exhibition for Balliol SCR; Unlocking Archives talk on the Graham Greene-Josephine Reid papers; first two of the summer’s student interns

manuscripts survey PS

Another use of last spring and summer’s survey of the medieval manuscripts: a researcher wanting to consult a long list of manuscripts, not necessarily in a particular order, had them produced by size, starting with the smallest. Result: only one swap to a different-sized set of foam book support wedges needed in a whole day’s research.

monthly report May 2015

A few numbers about what was happening at St Cross during May:

  • Number of enquiries (email etc): 93
  • Number of researchers in person: 11
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 26
  • Collections consulted: Greene-Reid papers (4), Jowett papers (2), Swinburne mss (2), TH Green papers, early modern ms, Browning relics, RM Hare papers, medieval mss
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 45 (Greene-Reid exhibition, Unlocking Archives talk, WW1 commemorative family gathering, Brookes students, Old Members, College guests, college archivists’ meeting)
  • blog posts: 2
  • interesting events: Greene-Reid exhibition private view, Unlocking Archives talk on medieval mss; WW1 centenary family memorial gathering with display; MSS session with Balliol tutors & students; podcast interview re Greene-Reid collection

Unlocking Archives talk 8 June

Unlocking Archives, a series of lunchtime talks about current research in Balliol College’s special collections

Graham-Greene-by-Amanda-Dennys (2)

Graham Greene in Antibes, ca. 1984. Photo by Amanda Saunders. © Estate of Amanda Saunders. Used with permission.

Speaker: Nicholas Dennys

‘Given to me by Mr Greene: Graham Greene, a personal view’

Monday 8 June, 1-2pm

In autumn last year Balliol College was pleased to acquire for its research collection the books and papers of a remarkable woman called Josephine Reid, relating to her employer, the writer Graham Greene (Balliol 1922).  Josephine Reid was Greene’s secretary and literary typist from 1958 to 1992. Nicholas Dennys, bookseller and nephew of Graham Greene,  will be in conversation with Naomi Tiley, Balliol’s Librarian,  giving a personal insight into Graham Greene’s writing and Josephine Reid’s collection.

Nicholas Dennys, a partner in the rare booksellers Dennys, Sanders, & Greene, patiently negotiated the sale of Josephine Reid’s books and papers to the College and prepared the collection’s sale catalogue, which proved an invaluable starting point for Balliol’s recent listings of the books and papers.  As the son of Graham Greene’s sister, Elisabeth, he is also Greene’s nephew.

All welcome! Feel free to bring your lunch.

The talk will last about half an hour, to allow time for questions and discussion afterwards and a closer look at an exhibition of the Cherry Record Collection of Josephine Reid’s papers and books relating to Graham Greene.

All Unlocking Archives talks take place at Balliol’s Historic Collections Centre, St Cross Church, Manor Road OX1 3UH (next door to Holywell Manor).

Map & directions: http://archives.balliol.ox.ac.uk/Services/visit.asp#f

Enquiries: library@balliol.ox.ac.uk


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