– 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 March – May 2014

A) Reader & visitor numbers by month:

March: 9 researchers over 8 days consulting Nicolson diaries, medieval mss (6), college archives re Butterfield, Curgenven Papers, D Urquhart Papers, FF Urquhart papers: 25 non-research visitors.

April: 2 researchers over 2 days consulting Morier Papers, Mallet Papers: 10 non-research visitors.

May: 4 researchers over 5 days consulting Medieval mss (2), Nicolson diaries, early modern mss, Mallet papers: 20 non-research visitors.

June: 12 researchers made 18 visits over 12 days, consulting D Urquhart papers, College Archives, Nicolson diaries (2), TH Green papers, medieval mss (3), Mrs Humphry Ward papers (Arnold collection), Caird papers, Clough papers, Mallet papers: 50 non-research visitors.

B) Remote enquiries:

March: 49

April: 49

May: 51

Total: 151

C) St Cross activities not elsewhere in the agenda
• Outreach activities:  Schools outreach maps & monsters, bookbinding sessions

• Digitisation:

  • 7500 images posted on Flickr in response to research enquiries Mar-May 2014.
  • Passed 700K views on 11 April, 800K on 3 June.
  • WW1 War memorial books are now the most-viewed images, closely followed by medieval title deeds and the 1910s era of the FF Urquhart albums. Real number of unviewed images (now < 10%) is decreasing despite regular additions of new images.
  • Feedback:
     e.g., from a Professor at ASU (medical historian): ‘Wow, this is brilliant.  And such perfect timing:  I’m meeting at the end of the week with my collaborators on the 12th-century MSS project and this will be a crowning glory to our discussions! Thanks a million.’; from a Fellow of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (English): ‘I think you are doing a wonderful job by making all those manuscripts available for researchers, with such a good quality. That is really a priceless contribution to research. Thank you so much;’ from a medievalist, English & digital humanities asst prof at Vassar: ‘we love you and your camera Balliol Archivist. Your flickr is amazing.’

• Browning letters project – in early May Anna and Fiona took part in Browning Day at the Browning Armstrong Library, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, to launch Balliol’s participation as the first international partner in Baylor’s Browning Letters Project. In the evening the Baylor, Wellesley and Balliol representatives re-presented to the Fano Club. We encountered magnificent collections, impressive facilities, polished professionalism and genuine Southern hospitality in our meetings with curators at the ABL and the Harry Ransom

• Social media Mar-May:

  • Facebook: 27 posts, mostly expanded & illustrated versions of tweets. 324 total likes
  • Twitter: advertising talks/events, new online resources, images; people loved the cat paw prints in ms 192, ca 150 RTs and a Tumblr post from Erik Kwakkel (Leiden; 2014 Lowe Lecturer in Palaeography); 103 new, total 781 followers.
    • Blog: 17 new posts (mostly about the mss survey), avg 575 views/month.


  • Medieval mss condition survey – 325/500 complete (65%). Of those, 30 are in poor condition and only 3 currently unusable; the rest (90%) are fair or good. 32 sessions of 2-3 hours Jan-May; we expect to complete before the new academic year begins.
  • MS 329 visited the conservation studio as a sample for a course in UV & multispectral photography, resulting in good quality UV images for a researcher – these revealed a page of text that had been erased, at least sufficiently to check it against other known sources of the text.


March: Display of special collections in St Cross for the JCR – World Book Day
April: Visit by Mark Storey & Friends of the London Library
Events scheduled for the summer:
• June: History of the Book workshop for Watford Girls GS; staff training in emergency response and disaster recovery
• July: opening for Balliol Family Day
• August:  manuscripts workshop with Prof Joshua King (Baylor in Oxford); early print bindings workshop with Mirjam Foot (Julia Smith & Traherne editors)
• September: Oxford Open Doors Days & NHCT Ride & Stride; ‘Balliol Boys’ Club & WW1’ exhibition, open for University Alumni Weekend and Balliol Society Weekend (etc)

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