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

termly report May – October 2013

This paper reports on activity at St Cross and the Lonsdale Curator’s work May – October 2013, since the last meeting of the library committee in April. Once again it’s been a busy and successful 6 months, with many researchers, record numbers of remote enquiries, and increased and diversified use of St Cross.


A)   Reader and visitor numbers by month

B)    Remote enquiries

C)   Activities & events at St Cross

D)   New accessions

A) Reader & visitor numbers May – October 2013

No.   of individual researchers in person Days   with readers in/days open* Seats   occu-


Visitors   (non research) Collections   consulted
May 14 16/20 23 ca 85 TH Green papers, Chalet papers, Jowett Papers (3), Nicolson diaries (2), RM Hare papers, medieval MSS (3), Morier Family papers, Leigh-Cook papers, TH Green papers, David Urquhart papers, Mallet papers
June 11 9/15 14 50+ RBD Morier papers, Clough papers, David Urquhart  papers, college records, Nicolson diaries (2), TH Green papers (2), OU Labour Club bulletins, AC Bradley papers, AL Smith papers, Correspondence collection, Crocker memoir, Rodger papers, Von Trott papers, medieval MSS
July 9 11/20 20 15 TH Green papers, Jowett papers, AL Smith papers, Conroy papers, Mallet papers, medieval mss (5)
Aug 7 8/9 13 30 David Urquhart papers, TH Green, Aldous Huxley, medieval mss (3), Mallet papers
Sept 7 6/15 6 ca 600 KN Bell papers, Mallet papers, Rm Hare papers, Morier papers
Oct 8 8/23 11 400+ Nicolson diaries, medieval mss (2), Morier papers, college records re St Catherine’s Day dinner, TH Green papers, Mary Augusta Arnold papers, college records re WW1
totals 56 58/102 87 ca 1200

*Often more than 1 person/day. Days open = days I’m working; most but not always open to researchers e.g. time may be blocked out for group visits or special events.

** 1 seat = 1 researcher for all or part of a day. A researcher visiting for a morning can generate more work for staff than one there for two full days. And the length of the visit may have nothing to do with the amount of correspondence before it.

Researcher profiles: 56 individuals. Nearly all researchers in person are academics and grad students (mostly external to Oxford), with the occasional family historian, Old Member or independent researcher.

 B) Remote enquiries

No. of enquiries
May 72
June 72
July 73
August 58
September 51
October 82
total 408

For comparison, the number of enquiries averaged 35 per month in 2005. It has edged up ever since and was about 60 in 2012. It looks as though I will be getting between 800 and 900 enquiries this year. Number of individual enquirers is slightly lower than that of enquiries as most external enquirers are new/one-off and internal are not.

Enquirer profiles: internal (Development Office, College Office, Publications Officer, Outreach Officer, Clerk of Works, individual Fellows, Ball and At Home organisers); family/local/military historians asking about individual Balliol men (about half of total); academics, mostly professional, a few students, mostly not Oxford. Increasing numbers re WW1 as 2014 approaches.

C) St Cross activities not elsewhere in the agenda

  • Following on from meeting with Kate Kettle, 2 Access groups have visited – bookbindings introduction (Naomi) and 750th-exhib based Curator for an Hour activity (Anna and Fiona)
  • Providing special collections images for the temporary kitchen hoardings in Broad St
  • Digitisation: 12 000 images posted May – Oct 2013, all in response to requests. Total 52,000 online. 305 000 views of individual images (cf 106 000 in April).
  • Unlocking Archives talks – Feb, April, May, June, July, Oct, Nov (2). With accompanying displays.
  • Conservation: prep for 2013 exhibition incl display case linings & covers, loan of digital projector & screen, usual pest & environmental monitoring, advice on & loan of camera leading to purchase of new camera



  • Balliol At Home event
  • Unlocking Archives 3 talk & display      (Stephen Golding, Univ)
  • Nevil Shute Society meeting with display
  • Tour & display for Manuscript Culture Network group
  • biweekly meetings of medieval mystics reading group (Prof N Palmer, SEH)


  • visit by      Designer Bookbinders International participants – display of early &      modern printed books and medieval ms books
  • School visit – Naomi’s book bindings introduction
  • Unlocking Archives 4 talk & display (Robin Darwall-Smith, Univ & Magd)


  • Unlocking Archives 5 talk & display (Ross McKibbin, St John’s)
  • Author & journalist to see FS Kelly memorabilia, including 1902 oar


  • Visit by Finnish students & faculty of Romance Philology – medieval mss lecture by their professor, prepared by Anna and hosted by Fiona.


  • Tour of St Cross (Anna) and exhibition of early printed books (Fiona) for 20+ Oxford and visiting librarians at WESLINE conference held in Balliol
  • 750th weekend displays by Anna and Fiona in Old Dean’s Room and Law Library of medieval and early printed books for Classics subject talk (and Maths!), 19th c literary mss for English subject talk – 50+ visitors
  • 750th exhibition by Dr John Jones in St Cross – ca 400 visitors over 3 weeks, approx. half general public
  • St Cross closed to (most) researchers for 3 weeks during exhibition
  • Oxford Open Doors Days – St Cross open 12-4 Sat & Sun for a third year, plus Historic Churches Trust Ride & Stride same days – 550+ visitors, usual mix of past & present neighbours, people married/buried/christened in St X, a few critics of the conversion, current Fellows & MCR members, tourists. Lots of good questions!


  • Anna & Fiona present ‘Curator for an Hour’ activity to Kate Kettle’s Yr 10s from Littlemore Academy
  • Unlocking Archives 6 talk & display (Ceri Davies, Swansea)
  • Anna and Fiona meet with English tutors to plan a special collections seminar
  • biweekly meetings of medieval mystics reading group (Prof N Palmer, SEH)

D) Acquisitions

  • Accrual (6 boxes) to BH Sumner papers, found in the Library.
  • Accrual (1 box) to Musical Society papers
  • Personal papers (1 box) of GMH Williams (1920s)
  • Letters by Richard Cobb
  • A letter by Jowett about fundraising
  • Several years of matriculation cards and Pathfinder records from the Master’s Secretary
  • Mystery gift of a large framed photograph of Sir Arthur Kekewich, no provenance
  • Ongoing small accruals of correspondence & ephemera from printed books in the library. Mostly for OMs’ dossiers where identifiable.

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