– 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 Hilary 2017

HT17 Week 6 (23 February) Library Committee

Archivist’s report

This paper reports on the Archivist’s work November 2016 – January 2017.

Reader & visitor numbers by month

Unique Users
November 9
December 5
January 8
Period total 22
2016 total 94

Seats occupied
November 12
December 8
January 9
Period total 29
2016 total 123

Visitors (non research)
November Ca 85
December 9
January 4
Period total ca 100
2016 total ca 750

Remote enquiries

  • November 76
  • December 25
  • January 83
  • Period total 184
  • 2016 total 875

Collection care & development

Notable accessions:

  • 3 letters from Benjamin Jowett to Margot Asquith, 1892.
  • 2 files re early planning, construction & furnishing of Eastman House, 1920s-1932.
  • 1 box file of Bursary invoices/receipts for September 1922. These would normally have been thrown away in the course of regular business, and no other similar files survive, but having a small complete sample throws useful light on Bursary accounting recordkeeping of the time.


Several manuscripts will be cleaned and repaired for the September exhibition after all, as well as continuing the postponed boxing of the medieval and early modern mss. Most importantly, MS 354 (Richard Hill’s commonplace book of ca 1510), a key and in some cases unique surviving source for medieval English carol texts, will be made safe for both display and handling. This fragile paper ms has been in parlous condition for years and it will be very good to be able to allow researchers to consult it again, as the digital images are useful but do not convey all the information from the original.

The Foundation Statutes of 1282, which are produced often for college and other visitors, have been lightly cleaned, photographed at very high resolution and rehoused to current conservation standards and are looking brilliant. They and enlarged images of Dervorguilla’s seal went on show immediately as part of the HT manuscripts display at St Cross, and will be out again for the MT17 exhibition.


Social media

  • Facebook: 950 Likes. Weekly updates, links to blog posts, notices of events, etc.
  • Twitter: 1800 total Tweets, 1452 followers
  • Blog: 16 new posts – monthly reports, stats for 2016, event notices, illustrated exhibition ‘afterlife’

Image management

  • Oxfile (OUCS) – used 18 times Nov-Jan, total 258 times, to send images, externally and within college, across archival collections.
  • more than 2.2 million individual image views on Flickr of 92,000+ images. The most-viewed image is the first entry in the War Memorial Book, followed by most of the rest of same, and the College Registers. Many of the medieval mss have had hundreds of views of each image.

Outreach & Events:


  • hosting weekly half-day NaNoWriMo Come Write In sessions for local novelists for a 4th year.
  • Adam Von Trott students visiting again (memorial lecture @Mansfield) – discussion and display of MS and printed material
  • For #TheOxfordSomme initiative by http://ww1centenary.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/, 18 Nov tweets for each Balliol man who fell on the Somme July-Nov 1916; the prescheduled tweets went out every 20 mins 9am-6pm.
  • new antechapel display: St Catherine
  • ACS invited speaker at WW1 history ‘road show’ organised with OUCS and International Society for WW1 Studies in conjunction with their conference
  • Unlocking Archives – Dr Matthew Balensuela: ‘Medieval Musical Illustrations: Balliol MS 173A’
  • Sunday symposium on Balliol’s Hebraica & Judaica: speakers Prof Martin Goodman FBA, Dr Rahel Fronda, Prof Joanna Weinberg, Prof Elliott Horowitz
  • Unlocking Archives – Prof Elliott Horowitz: ‘Balliol Judaica and Hebraica: an exhibition’


  • Balliol tutor & English 2nd years to St Cross for hands-on introduction to structure, production history & good handling of medieval manuscript codices


  • Temporary exhibition of medieval manuscripts ‘Mostly music & medicine’, open to the public most afternoons weeks 2-5. 54 visitors
  • new antechapel display: enlarged illuminated initials from the mss exhibition (mid-Jan);stained glass restoration feature remains on the other side of the board as long as the glass is out
  • new ‘Document in Focus’ features prepared by Anna continue on display in Broad St Library


Anna CPD:

  • observed organisation & volunteer training & participated in the digitization team for OUCS WW1 ‘archives roadshow’ day (November)
  • attended conference Manuscripts in the Making: Art & Science and COLOUR exhibition, org. Fitzwilliam Museum, AMARC, Cambridge Chemistry Dept (December)
  • elected a member of the Management Committee of the Oxford Conservation Consortium (December)

More news

More details, more often, on social media:

Anna Sander

HT 2017 (February)

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