– 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!


Unlocking Archives talk 4 May


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

Speaker: Irene O’Daly

‘A Medieval Coursebook? Diagrammatic annotations in Balliol College MS 272’

Monday 4 May, 1-2pm

Balliol’s manuscript no. 272, a copy of the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica ad Herennium, contains layers of diagrammatic annotations, added at various points during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This paper will outline what we can learn about medieval educational methods from such diagrams, as well as illustrating how these diagrams relate to the broader traditions of rhetorical study in the Middle Ages.

Irene O’Daly is a Research Associate at the John Rylands Research Institute, University of Manchester. Predominantly interested in the intellectual history of the central Middle Ages, she is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the University of Cambridge, and has recently finished a postdoctoral fellowship at Leiden University, where her research focussed on the use of diagrams in the study of medieval rhetoric.

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 some of the special collections material discussed.

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


monthly report March 2015

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

  • Number of enquiries (email etc): 158
  • Number of researchers in person: 10
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 17
  • Collections consulted: Bryson, Morier Family, David Urquhart, Sweet-Escott, RBD Morier, Jowett, Rawnsley, Hope-Simpson papers, medieval mss (2)
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 90 (study day, school group, Unlocking Archives, individuals)
  • blog posts: 2
  • interesting events: theology study day supported by a display of eastern and western devotional mss; ‘introduction to manuscripts’ session for visiting school group from Canada, Unlocking Archives talk; first pass of Greene-Reid collection catalogue completed (754 item descriptions, 30,000 words)

public open days & exhibition in April



“Given to me by Mr Greene”

An exhibition of

The Cherry Record Collection of Josephine Reid’s papers and books relating to Graham Greene

Balliol College Historic Collections Centre, St Cross Church, St Cross Road, OX1 3UH

Sat 25 & Sun 26 April 2015

11am – 4pm both days

All welcome

Graham Greene attended Balliol College in the 1920s before embarking on a career as a writer and publisher. Josephine Reid was Greene’s secretary and literary typist from 1958 to 1992. Despite those 34 years working alongside him, she makes only a footnote appearance in his official biography. This public exhibition of her letters, books and papers from Graham Greene, showcased in Balliol’s award winning Historic Collection building, tells the story of how Josephine Reid put the secret into secretary and reveals the working practices of one of the twentieth-century’s best known writers.

Directions to St Cross Church

monthly report February 2015

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

  • Number of remote enquiries: 132
  • Number of researchers in person: 7
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 12
  • Collections consulted: medieval mss (3), college archives, printed collection of Balliol biographies & autobiographies (81s), Jenkyns Papers, Mallet papers
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 65 (school group, college guests, Unlocking Archives, individuals, private view)
  • blog posts: 6
  • interesting events: exhibition from recent accession for private view, school visit based on Boys’ Club material, Unlocking Archives talk with mss on display plus images from them on screen.

Oliver Smithies Lecture

Oliver Smithies Lecture

Professor Stephen Brown, who gave an Unlocking Archives talk on Monday, will give his second Oliver Smmithies lecture entitled ‘Revealed Religion as an Intellectual Discipline’ on 4 March 2015 at 5.00pm in Lecture Room 23 at Balliol.

The first Smithies Lecture was a tour of the origins of the Arts curriculum in medieval Oxford, and its development from a faculty based firmly in the seven liberal arts of the Trivium and Quadrivium to an Aristotelian philosophy faculty. The second will examine western medieval theologians’ study of medieval Arabic writers including Ibn al-‘Arab and Ibn Rushd (Averroes).

Professor Brown is Professor of Church History at Boston College, Massachusetts, and Director of Boston College’s Institute of Medieval Philosophy and Theology. The Oliver Smithies Lectures are funded by a generous benefaction from Professor Oliver Smithies, which enables Balliol to bring distinguished visitors to the University of Oxford.

History thesis fair

2nd year History undergraduates, start your engines: the thesis is upon you. We can help! Come to the Thesis Fair next Wednesday 5 March 3-5pm (check your timed slot – Balliol people 3-4) for one to one professional advice from archivists and librarians from the colleges and across the university – discover the wealth of archives, manuscripts and printed special collections both ancient and modern open to YOU, no matter which college you are at. 




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