– 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 Michaelmas 2016

Week 6 MT 16 (November) Library Committee: Archivist’s report

This article reports on the Archivist’s work June-October 2016.

Reader & visitor numbers by month


  • Unique Users: 10
  • Seats occupied: 12
  • Visitors (non research): ca 50: (Traherne seminar, NADFAS visit, individuals, Bodleian trainees, Unlocking Archives)
  • Collections consulted: college records, Jowett, medieval mss, Monckton, Hopkins


  • Unique Users: 9
  • Seats occupied: 10
  • Visitors (non research): ca. 40: (Donors’ Day, individuals)
  • Collections consulted in person: Monckton, Malcolm, Greene-Reid, Nicolson, Browning, Hopkins, Arnold, AL Smith, Chalet, medieval mss


  • Unique Users: 9
  • Seats occupied: 11
  • Visitors (non research): 1
  • Collections consulted: AL Smith, medieval mss (3), Monckton, Harris, Mallet, JA Smith, Malcolm


  • Unique Users: 6
  • Seats occupied: 6
  • Visitors (non research):  260+ (Open Doors, patronal evensong)
  • Collections consulted:  Hill, AL Smith, Malcolm, medieval mss, Von Trott, college records


  • Unique Users: 7
  • Seats occupied: 8
  • Visitors (non research): Ca 50 (Balliol Society, individual visitors, Brookes  publishing students)
  • Collections consulted: Malcolm, medieval mss, college records, Nicolson diaries


  • Unique Users 41
  • Seats occupied 47
  • Visitors (non research) 400+

Remote enquiries

  • June 66
  • July 60
  • August 53
  • September 41
  • October 74
  • Total 294
  • 2016 running total 774

A handful of research topics from the reporting period:

Carolingian sermon collections; Graham Greene’s Cuba connections; Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson in the Monckton Papers; reception of Bridget of Sweden in England; JA Smith’s connections with Hull University’s Institute of Applied Ethics; the role of aviation in state formation in South Asia in the fourth decade of the 20th century; Higden’s Polychronicon and a continuation based on Tynemouth’s Historia aurea to 1347(?), re issues of national identity, propaganda, and the ethics of war in English historical and political writing composed during the reign of Edward III (1327–77).


  • Social media
    • Facebook: 14 posts (mostly weekly updates and event announcements), 937 total ‘Likes’.
    • Twitter: total 1670 tweets, 1380 followers.
    • Blog: 17 new posts, average 750 views/month, 45 followers.
  • Image management:
    • Oxfile (OUCS): used 48 times June-Oct, total 233 times, to send images, externally and within college, across archival collections.
    • Flickr: 2 million+ individual image views of 88,000+ images.
  • Outreach
    • ‘Document in Focus’ features prepared by Anna continue on display in Broad St Library
    • new antechapel displays: stained glass restoration, Remembrance (FS Kelly); decorative features quiz was very popular with visitors over the summer
    • planning George Malcolm centenary exhibition for HT with Giles Dawson
    • see also events, below



  • Traherne Collator Seminar – new digital tools for old books. Organised by Chris Palmer, Balliol Lecturer in Physics, and Julia Smith, General Editor of Oxford Traherne. This is a return to St Cross for the Traherne editors after a successful editorial meeting last year.
  • Unlocking Archives illustrated talk with supporting display of original manuscripts – Lesley Higgins on GM Hopkins,  ‘Spelt from Hopkins’ Leaves: Considering Archival “Remains”.


  • college Donors’ Day visitors


  • Oxford Open Doors Days & Oxfordshire Churches Preservation Trust Ride & Stride – 250 visitors
  • Exhibition ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn’: Hebraica and Judaica at Balliol’, co-curated by Prof. Elliott Horowitz and Anna Sander
  • Anthony Powell Society display (Broad Street Library) by James Howarth & Anna Sander
  • Evensong for the patronal feast of the Holy Cross
  • Academic Society reunion display
  • AL Smith family reunion presentation & display


  • Exhibition open for Balliol Society weekend
  • display and brief presentation for Prof. O’Hare’s VIP visitors & college officers
  • staffing college archives stall at graduate history research fair with colleagues

Arrangement & description and collection care

  • Adlib records: manual copying (with edits) of JHJ’s 2003 Archive List and extant lists for modern papers to the Adlib database is about 75% complete – 5930 records at fonds-file levels. The next step is detailed description and (re)arrangement at file and item level, including new accessions.

Future events:


    • hosting weekly half-day NaNoWriMo Come Write In sessions for local novelists for a 4th year
    • display for Adam Von Trott students visiting again (memorial lecture @Mansfield)
    • Anna invited speaker at WW1 history ‘road show’ organised with OUCS and International Society for WW1 Studies in conjunction with their conference
    • Unlocking Archives talk – Dr Matthew Balensuela: ‘Medieval Musical Illustrations: Balliol MS 173A’
    • hosting symposium on Balliol’s Hebraica & Judaica: speakers Prof Martin Goodman FBA, Dr Rahel Fronda, Prof Joanna Weinberg, Prof Elliott Horowitz
    • Unlocking Archives talk – Prof Elliott Horowitz: ‘Balliol Judaica and Hebraica: an exhibition’


    2017 so far:

    • EPBs and manuscripts workshops with English tutors and students
    • ongoing regular Documents in Focus in the Broad St library and display boards in antechapel
    • thesis preparation and special collections research training with History undergraduates
    • private medieval manuscripts evening for Development Office
    • George Malcolm centenary exhibition including spring open weekend and related Sunday Concert
    • Leslie Woods memorial display and event
    • JCR and SCR private views
    • exhibition of medieval manuscripts and their conservation


Anna CPD:

  • attended Cambridge – London City – Oxford Archivists’ group meeting at Trinity College, Cambridge, on Records of College Servants and Domestic life in College (June)

Providing work experience & training:

  • hosted archivist & records manager at the Swedish Agricultural University (Alnarp-Lund) for a week in September under the ERASMUS Staff Exchange scheme, arranged visits to other Oxford archives

Anna Sander

MT 2016 (18 November)

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