– 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.

Unlocking Archives – the list

Unlocking Archives was an interdisciplinary graduate seminar series of illustrated lunchtime talks at St Cross Church, Holywell, about current research in Balliol College’s historic collections: archives, manuscripts and early printed books, and the connections between them. The series was founded by the college archivist and curator of manuscripts, Anna Sander, in Balliol’s 750th anniversary year, and ran for 5 years until the spring of 2018.


22 February Anna Sander – Three Diplomatic Family Archives at Balliol: Morier, Urquhart, Mallet

26 April Holly James-Maddocks, University of York – John Bray, Limner-Binder, and Three Sequences of Manuscripts Made in Oxford (1450-84)

24 May Dr Stephen Golding (University College) Tales of the Unexpected: Mont Blanc to Everest

20 June Dr Robin Darwall-Smith (Archivist, University College & Magdalen) – Living with the Jowett Papers

25 July Dr Ross McKibbin (Senior Research Fellow, St John’s) – Harold Nicolson’s Diaries: why they are important to the historian

23 October Prof Ceri Davies (Emeritus Professor, Swansea University) – MSS 260 & 353: two John Prise manuscripts at Balliol

1 November special edition: Dr Ian Mertling-Blake  – The Archaeology of the Book of Kells

22 November  Dr Lynda Dennison – The Index of Images in Oxford College Libraries: an overview of the Project


[ 13 March Oliver Smithies Lecture by Katherine Zieman (Notre Dame) –  ‘William Gray and His Books’ ]

7 November Anna Sander ‘The Balliol Boys’ Club: Town and Gown in the First World War’

28 November Naomi Tiley and Fiona Godber: ‘Buried Treasure? Hidden Early Printed Books at Balliol.’


23 February Prof. Stephen F. Brown (Boston College) – Lessons Learned from Balliol Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences.

6 March Emily Freeman (Balliol & Ruskin) – John Evelyn’s Trees: the art of Sylva.

4 May Irene O’Daly (Leiden & Manchester) – ‘A Medieval Coursebook? Diagrammatic annotations in Balliol College MS 272’

8 June Nicholas Dennys in conversation with Naomi Tiley –  ‘Given to me by Mr Greene: Graham Greene, a personal view’

19 October Dr Rikky Rooksby – ‘Swinburne, Balliol and the pursuit of books’

4 December Charlie Dawkins (Merton) – ‘Harold Nicolson, John Reith, and censorship at the BBC in 1931’


19 February Anna Sander – ‘AL Smith on the Home Front’

7 March Eleanor Greer  (St Hilda’s, Trinity Cantab)  – indexing decorative features in Balliol’s medieval manuscripts

20 April special edition: Prof. Daniel Wakelin and Anna Sander – medieval manuscripts DIY Digitization student workshop day and public lunchtime discussion

20 May Naomi Tiley – Representing the Ghost of Shakespear’: summoning the spirits for Balliol’s spring exhibition

27 June Prof. Lesley Higgins (York CA) – ‘Spelt from Hopkins’ Leaves: Considering Archival “Remains”’

16 November Prof. Matthew Balensuela (Depauw), The Music Theory Booklet Balliol 173A ff. 74r–81v: Copying and Content of an Early Medieval Theory Compendium

27 November special edition: exhibition symposium on Hebraica & Judaica in Balliol’s special collections. Speakers: Prof Martin Goodman, Prof Joanna Weinberg, Dr Rahel Fronda, Prof Elliott Horowitz

29 November Prof. Elliott Horowitz (Smithies Visiting Fellow 2015-16), ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn’: an exhibition of Hebraica and Judaica at Balliol College


9 February Monica Kendall: ‘Your Dear youths’: schoolboy letters of the 1780s and a strange link to the Brontës

27 February Giles Dawson: Celebrating George Malcolm – a centenary exhibition

9 March Lucy Kelsall: Cataloguing Nicholas Crouch – an early modern private collection in Balliol Library

24 May Nikki Tomkins (OCC conservator), on her work for Balliol this past year, repairing early printed books as part of the Reconstructing Nicholas Crouch cataloguing and conservation project.


25 April Anna Espínola Lynn, MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture (Wadham College, Oxford) : Against ‘Iberic Crudity’: Balliol MS 238E, Bodleian MS Douce 204, and Laurentius Dyamas – on the transmission of style in fifteenth-century Catalan manuscript production.

== end of series – 5 years, 29 events! Thank you to all the speakers and workshop participants, and those who have attended the presentations. ==

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