– 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.

history graduate thesis fair

Yesterday I and several colleagues from other college archives staffed our usual stall at the thesis fair for Oxford University history grad students. We fielded queries about:

  • records of the discussions leading up to the foundation of new colleges (C19-20)
  • records of changing student attitudes & unrest/protests (C20, e.g. women in former men’s colleges, political protest)
  • records of medieval hospitals (C12-14)
  • Oxford connections, individual and institutional, with South Africa (C19-20)
  • anything about the 30 Years’ War (C17)
  • the ‘Merton Calculators’ – 14th century Oxford thinkers who approached philosophical and theological problems in a mathematical way (C14-15)
  • the social effect of WW1 on women – particularly but not exclusively women students at the time (C20)
  • political relations between England, France and the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages (C15-16)
  • medieval charter diplomatic (the study of the formal structure of official and legal documents) (C11-12)
  • medieval English representations of Saracens in text and image (C12-15)
  • early modern records of disorder and scandal (!) (C16-18)
  • women and archaeology in the Victorian era (C19)
  • general enquiries about what sorts of things are in college collections

While each student had individual attention for several minutes, these questions obviously didn’t fill two hours. Meanwhile, the Bodleian’s manuscripts and archives specialists at the next stall had a queue waiting most of the time, so I think we need a sandwich board: ‘Waiting to talk to the Bod? Come and see if college collections might have something useful for you as well!’ Because most people assume they won’t, and quite often that assumption is wrong.

We always enjoy meeting students and discussing their research needs, whether general or specific. We always learn something from each other as well; we’re often in touch by email, but it’s great to have an opportunity to explore the many and sometimes unexpected ways our collections relate to each other. And how they differ!

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