– 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.

Summer Vac on facebook

‘Vacation’ in Oxford parlance, often shortened to Vac, means ‘out of term time’; the three academic teaching terms  (semesters) run for 8 very intense weeks each and are known by the church feasts near their beginnings: autumn’s Michaelmas Term (feast of St Michael, 29 September), winter’s Hilary Term (feast of St Hilary of Poitiers, 13 January), and spring’s Trinity Term (movable feast in May/June depending dates of Easter > Pentecost). Vacation doesn’t mean everyone in Oxford goes on holiday – the emphasis turns to research instead of teaching. For anyone who works in special collections, vacations are often busier than term time, with Oxford academics and students more free to come and do their research.

I post brief monthly statistics here, but for readers who just can’t get enough archives news, there’s a weekly update on Facebook as well. Here’s the roundup for the Summer Vac:

26 June

Long Vacation – for returning undergraduates, that is. This week in the archives: medieval manuscripts & early printed books researchers, a visit from the Bodleian’s archives and library trainees from across the colleges and university, and fire suppression system testing. Enquiry 400 did indeed appear last week, as did new digital images of MSS 80, 148 and 247. https://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/albums

3 July

July. This week in the archives: researchers for the Monckton and Morier archives, a visit from participants in the University of Oxford Research and Innovation Support Conference, and a gathering of archivists from Oxford and Cambridge colleges and London’s Inns of Court giving papers on Unbuilt Oxford. I’m working on a rather large reprographics request, September exhibition prep, and processing recent accessions. I’ll be out of the office on Tuesday attending the Oxbridge/Inns day at St John’s.

10 July

Long Vac. Last week’s spate of researchers is not continued this week, so on with exhibition planning, arrangement & description, digitization requests etc.

17 July

This week pretty much as last week, with a reader for the Strachan-Davidson papers and several for EPBs. There are so many short deadlines throughout the year for temporary displays, college events, visitors, enquiries etc etc that the rare ‘slack’ weeks with fewer external demands are when all the behind the scenes essentials get done. Lots of ongoing tasks, rather than finite projects, that will get at least some attention each.

24 July

More footfall at St Cross this last week in July: researchers for the Clough and Monckton archives, and Juliana ‘Julie’ Dresvina bringing her summer school class to learn about medieval manuscripts.

31 July

This week: August! 6 weeks until the exhibition opens… Researchers for the Boat Club records, Monckton papers and medieval manuscripts. July stats will be appearing on the blog today.

7 Aug

August in the archives: a researcher for the Monckton papers, preparation for a busy September. That is ‘all’.

Here’s a marginal sneeze from MS 238B f17r. The rest:https://www.flickr.com/…/balliolarch…/sets/72157630983831414

14 Aug

Mid-August: this week in the archives, researchers for the Jowett and TH Green papers.

Dissertation suggestion: women as co-creators (credited and uncredited), curators, editors, collectors, preservers, depositors of Great Men’s Archives. A few Balliol examples: Martha Knight, Charlotte (Symonds) Green, Blanche (Shore Smith) Clough, Mary (Baird) Smith, Harriet (Fortescue) Urquhart, Margaret Deneke…

21 Aug

August: deepest part of the Vac, busiest time for University Admissions, the SCR is closed for lunch. Work in the archives rolls on regardless: this week, a researcher is bravely tackling Benjamin Jowett’s spidery handwriting all week.

Starting preparations for the Open Doors weekend (9-10 September) – St Cross will be open 12-4pm both days for the 7th year. Come by for a look at the building restoration and quite a lot of medieval manuscripts on display! Staff, including the exhibition curator (hemhem) will be on hand on answer questions about the building and the collections.

OHCT Ride & Stride participants are very welcome on the Saturday as well! Do please note though that the church will not be open all day, only 12-4pm, so if you want to be sure of having your sponsorship forms signed at St Cross, do plan your itinerary accordingly.

Patronal Festival: a service of Evening Prayer will be held in the chancel of St Cross, Holywell, to mark the Feast of the Holy Cross (moved from the 14th) on Sunday, 17 September 2017
at 5pm. (NB not the same weekend as Open Doors.) Everyone is welcome. Celebrant: the Revd Dr William Lamb, Vicar of the University Church.

11 Sept

More than 300 visitors to Open Doors over the weekend 😀 The medieval manuscripts exhibition is well and truly launched – if you missed it at Open Doors, don’t worry, it’s open until December. There may be some more public opening hours advertised later in the term, but individual and group visitors are very welcome almost any time by appointment. Visiting hours are normally Mon-Fri 10-1 and 2-5; appointments aren’t meant to be exclusive, it’s just that the exhibition and reading room are in the same space and we need to plan ahead to ensure that visitors and researchers are here at different times. Please come! More about the manuscripts exhibition at https://balliolarchivist.wordpress.com/ #mss2017

18 Sept

This week in the archives, Balliol Society (alumni) visitors to the exhibition on Saturday afternoon, a service for the patronal feast yesterday evening, a reader for medieval manuscripts, and incumbents of Balliol livings visiting the exhibition tomorrow.

Individual and group visitors to the exhibition of medieval manuscripts are very welcome almost any time by appointment. Visiting hours are normally Mon-Fri 10-1 and 2-5; appointments aren’t meant to be exclusive, it’s just that the exhibition and reading room are in the same space and we need to plan ahead to ensure that visitors and researchers are here at different times. More about the manuscripts exhibition athttps://balliolarchivist.wordpress.com/ #mss2017


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