– 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 MT15

MT 15 (November) Archivist’s report

This paper reports on the Archivist’s work May-October 2015.

 Reader & visitor numbers by month


researchers in person Days with readers in Seats occupied Visitors (non research) Collections consulted
May (all) 9 15 26 Ca 40: 6 (Unlocking); 20 (OM family); 8 individuals; Elena Lombardi & 6 Balliol students Greene-Reid (2), Swinburne (2), Jowett, TH Green, Browning, Hare, Morier, medieval mss, Nicolson diaries, Pyper
June 9 8 10 22: 10 SCR viewing; 2 individuals; 10 Unlocking Hope-Simpson, Nicolson diaries (2), Strachan-Davidson, medieval mss (3)
July 9 11 19 28: 4 (filming); 23 (Friends of Reading Abbey); 1 individual Medieval mss (5), Jowett, early modern mss, college records, AL Smith, Greene-Reid
August 12 10 16 40: 4 individuals; Scot Peterson with 36 Meritas students Medieval mss (7), college records (3), Clough-Nightingale, Jowett
September 8 7 8 Ca 425: 388 Open Doors, ca 25 patronal feast service, 6 individuals Greene-Reid (2), Chalet, Jowett (2), TH Green, Harris, Nicolson diaries, college records
October 6 5 6 100+ (35 Brookes publishing students, 30 AGRA researchers, Daniel Tyler and 6 Balliol English students, 20 Unlocking) Jowett, TH Green, Balogh (2), college records, Nicolson diaries
Totals 53 56 85 650+

Remote enquiries

No. of enquiries
May (all) 93
June 82
July 84
August 67
September 74
October 65
Total 465

2015 total enquiries to end of October: 956

St Cross activities

Image management:

  • Oxfile (OUCS)  – used 26 times in September and October alone (total 124 times) to send from 1 to several hundred images, externally and within college, across archival collections.
  • I was considering doing less with publicly available images on Flickr, but the exchange below, from Twitter in July, and its followup, have changed my mind. I may use it in different ways, but I will certainly continue to add to the Flickr setup, and Bodleian Digital Special Collections staff and I are in touch about ways to improve and connect our services. FlickrPro’s analytics, always a weak point until now, have improved, i.e. become much more detailed, over the summer.


  • Facebook: 748 ‘Likes’.
  • Twitter: 1214 tweets, 1111 followers. Top tweets: advert for Adam Smyth podcast about the Greene-Reid papers, advert for Greene-Reid exhibition, #HackCapelli @Twittfontes (about a Univ of Zurich project for crowdsourcing digitization of medieval abbreviations), image of a rather charming marginal manuscript beastie.
  • Blog: 25 new posts, average 900 views/month, 42 followers.
  • ‘Document in Focus’ features for display in Broad St Library > archives awareness, now displayed in the foyer, regularly changed.
  • New notices on St Cross notice board – updated re status of church, current use, means of access, includes A4 colour photo of the interior. Several door-handle-tryers a day are reading it. I think there is a guidebook in circulation that claims the church is open…
  • staffed College Archives stall at Graduate History Thesis Fair (early November)
  • with College Librarian, hosted MCR viewing of Swinburne exhibition and selections, some requested by students, from print and manuscript research collections.
  • staffed Arts & Heritage stall at OU Careers Fair (Arts, Media & Marketing day)
  • started small regular display of facsimiles from the archives in the antechapel – display subjects to be decided termly with the Chaplain and Chapel Committee.



  • June: Unlocking Archives (Nicholas Dennys on Graham Greene)
  • display for Nevil Shute Norway Society conference in Broad St
  • July-August: 2 OUIP interns, 6 and 3 weeks
  • July: Friends of Reading Abbey visit
  • August-September: Balliol student cataloguing assistant, 8 weeks
  • August: Meritas seminar manuscripts session supporting teaching by Balliol’s Scot Peterson and Simon John
  • September – October: Swinburne exhibition including an Unlocking Archives talk by Rikky Rooksby
  • September: talk (JHJ) and display (Anna) for Gerard Manley Hopkins Society conference in Broad St
  • Mid-September: 388 visitors Oxford Open Doors Days and Swinburne exhibition (all staff); Anna attended opening of ‘Above the Dreaming Spires: Oxfordshire’s Great War Aviation Story’ exhibition at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, curated by Dr Peter Dye (Air Vice-Marshal, retd, OBE, formerly General Director of the RAF Museum at Hendon) – supplied several photographs & information for the exhibition.
  • October: AGRA study day at St Cross – Anna & JHJ;
  • October: presentation and Q&A session about building conversion, collections & careers to 25 archives Masters students from Dundee


Cataloguing & collection care

  • Clough Papers: completed arrangement, repackaging and numbering the papers of Arthur Hugh Clough. The archive is described at item level; many descriptions have been revised and augmented. All former references have been cross-referenced in the new list to facilitate use of old citations. Updated entries for record creators Arthur Hugh Clough, Blanche Clough, Anne Jemima Clough and Florence Nightingale have been sent to the TNA Discovery catalogue. Summer 2015.
  • Abbott Papers: created a new description of the Evelyn Abbott papers (2 boxes). A fonds level description has been sent to the Archives Hub.
  • Corrected and added item level descriptions for the correspondence section of the online catalogue of Sir Charles Harris’ papers (prompted by a graduate student researcher), and numbered & repackaged the whole collection; fonds level descriptions have been sent to the NRA Discovery catalogue and Archives Hub.
  • The Jowett Copyright Trust, Conroy-Hudson and George Malcolm (addl) papers have been repackaged preparatory to listing.
  • Boxing manuscripts: last year’s condition survey of the manuscript books revealed that 105 had no box/folder/wrapper at all. In MT15, 27 of those (and the Tassie cameo of Adam Smith) have been measured for and provided with custom made boxes from the Bodleian’s Packaging and Design Service. A further ca 25 should be completed by the end of 2015 and the rest early in 2016. A few currently unboxed manuscripts require conservation treatment that will change their shape or dimensions, so they will be given temporary wrappers for interim protection during storage and handling, and permanently boxed following treatment. Boxing is a basic essential, providing protection during storage and handling, and is especially important for those manuscripts which are otherwise low on the priority list for conservation treatment, as they are even more prone to accidental damage than those in better physical condition. Appropriate boxing was the top conservation priority identified in the survey and it will be very satisfying to all the manuscripts well stored and protected.



  • accruals to the Les Woods archive
  • accrual to Balliol Boys’ Club archive
  • file of personal Balliol ephemera (clubs, societies etc)
  • Carol Clark teaching and research papers
  • Past members’ dossiers from College Office
  • accrual to Pathfinders archive via Master’s Secretary

Coming up

Events scheduled so far:

  • November: ABTAPL training day –with Anna James (Pusey); graduate history thesis fair; OU Careers fair
  • November: MCR viewing of Swinburne exhibition and requested items
  • November: 3rd year of weekly Write In sessions for local novelists (NaNoWriMo)
  • November: Balliol tutor Daniel Tyler & English class examining draft states of poetry MSS (Clough & Browning)
  • December: 5-day  ‘micro-internship’ through OU Careers Service
  • December: Unlocking Archives talk by Charlie Dawkins (Merton) re Harold Nicolson, James Joyce and censorship at the BBC in the 1930s.
  • December: session on planning archival research with Queen Mary students (MA Early Modern English)
  • January: presentation at DIY Digitization workshop (Bodleian)
  • HT: visit to St Cross to see medieval mss by OU Bibliophiles Society
  • HT: session on planning archival research for dissertations with Balliol history students and tutors


The OUIP internships are a lot of work for staff but highly rewarding for the Oxford students involved; we have been fortunate to attract a high volume of excellent candidates and enough OUIP funding for 4 students over the summer of 2014-15. Unfortunately, OU Careers Service announced in October 2015 that the HEFCE funding supporting the scheme has been withdrawn. We are trialling a 5-day vacation microinternship scheme they have set up instead.

attended CILIP RBSCG conference, British Library 4 September – Hidden Collections: revealed; Institute of English Studies, Senate House 18 September – English Literary Heritage conference; college archivists’ tour of new Weston Library.

Consulting: in conversation with the Fellows’ Working Party on archives at St Cross College since June 2015

Presentations: AGRA study day with John Jones (October), ABTAPL preservation day for small-institution lone librarians with early and manuscript collections with Anna James (Pusey House Library, November), DIY Digitisation Day (Bodleian, January 2016) workshop, org Daniel Wakelin & Henrike Laehnemann.

Publications: chapter on handling special collections material in A Handbook of Editing Early Modern Texts, ed. H Phillips & C Williams, Ashgate, forthcoming 2015; chapter in published proceedings of DIY Digitisation workshop , ed. D Wakelin, Bodleian, forthcoming 2016.

We are sad to report the deaths of two colleagues over the summer: Chris Jeens, archivist at Jesus, and Janet McMullin, librarian at Christ Church.

More news

More details, more often, on social media:




Anna Sander

MT 2015

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