– 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.

book link

Q&A: the Register

When using the Balliol College Register images online, I am confused by sets of usually 3 initials in parentheses, following the Balliol years in the education section of many entries. What do they mean?

Initials in parentheses are those of that student’s Balliol tutor(s). You can find a list of tutors’ initials just before the Index, and then use the Index to find that tutor’s own entry.

College Register 2nd edition 1833-1933

College Register 3rd edition 1900-1950

World Book Day

Much of what happens on World Book Day is associated with children’s reading, reading in schools, improving national literacy levels and so on, which is great. But I’m going to take the opportunity to make a list of a few of my favourite places to browse, mostly about medieval books and mostly with lots of splendid images. They all have lists of links and further reading and so on, so any one is a way to start the virtual equivalent of the humanities grad student’s favourite activity, the footnote trail, where looking up one book leads on to another, and then another… I can think of worse ways to spend World Book Day than doing the real-open-stack equivalent in Cambridge’s University Library, shelf-surfing from South Front 1 to North Wing 6…

  • Online exhibitions at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge –  my favourites are the Utamaro books and the Macclesfield Psalter, and off the books topic, they have a lovely exhibition of netsuke too.
  • Tours of the British Library’s Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, which is expanding its coverage and increasing in detail and images all the time. I especially recommend the ‘Treasures Known and Unknown’ tour.
  • Medieval manuscripts online at the National Library of Wales – have a look at the Llanbeblig Hours and the Laws of Hywel Dda
  • Oxford has access (by subscription) to the Medieval Travel Writing site, so if you’re on the Oxford network, do have a look. This is also available at the British Library and many university and other reference libraries.
  • For more about travel books and much else, have a browse through the ABE Books staff features archive – don’t miss the lists at the bottom of the page.
  • Need inspiration for your own reading list? Explore some book blogs – I can recommend starting your trail with Stuck in a Book, written by Simon. He writes for work at Oxford Words, which is also highly worth a peruse!
MS Balliol 208, f.109r

Let the dog see the rabbit – MS Balliol 208, f.109r

International Book and Copyright Day is coming up on April 23rd…

History of St Cross Church

Dr John Jones’ St Cross Church, Holywell: its history, architecture, people, and conversion into an Historic Collections Centre is out of print, and is now available online instead, in print-ready PDF format here.

Some Balliol links

Stained glass

Images of the stained glass in Balliol Chapel are available from the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi HERE  and a couple of bits of medieval stained glass in the Library as well, HERE.  You can read all about the stained glass in the chapel, before and after rearrangements in 1912, HERE

College History

Henry Savage’s history of the College is the first history of any Oxford college based on documentary research. It is more of a fund-raiser than a work of scholarship, however. This copy was owned by Lord Eliock in the early 18th century and has a few mss notations to the back material of that period which seem to have been made by someone well-informed on Balliol matters. In the early 20th century it was owned by Edward Hilliard, then Bursar of the college. Balliofergus is already available at gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39 .88-2003&res_… but as the images are scratchy black and white reproductions and the EEBO service is only available by subscription, this copy will help to make the text more widely accessible http://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/sets/72157625334030481

Frances de Paravicini’s college history

 HWC Davis’ college history (1st ed)

Victoria County History entry for Balliol College

Benjamin Jowett

LA Tollemache, Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol (1904)

Abbott & Campbell The Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett (2 vols) 

Abbott & Campbell’s edition of Letters of Benjamin Jowett


There is a growing collection of WW1-related Balliol resources online HERE. Included (so far) are:

The complete Balliol College War Memorial Book  (2 vols, 1924). This is an invaluable biographical source for details of each of the Balliol men who died in WW1, including three college servants and those who were admitted to the college but were never able to take up their membership.

The complete 2nd edition of the Balliol College Register (1934), covering Balliol matriculations 1833-1933 and including all who served (not only British and Allied forces) in WW1 – except college servants, of whom those who died are included in the War Memorial Book, above.

Early volumes of the Balliol College Annual Record, the old members’ magazine, starting in 1914-15. This includes summaries of College life during the war years as well as updates on serving Old Members.

The manuscript diary of Alfred Balmforth, 1892-1917 (Balliol 1911), including his record of life at Balliol, Army training and the early part of his active service.

Letters from France by Capt. Arthur Hugh Sidgwick (1882-1917, Balliol 1901) to his family, particularly his sister Ethel, 1916-1917, containing detailed accounts of fighting, life in the Army, etc. With newspaper cutting of his obituary.

JHB Armstrong’s photo album covering his time as an Australian officer cadet in Balliol July-October 1917.

The Souvenir‘ magazine of A Company, 6th officer Cadet Battalion, 10 Nov. 1917-26 Feb. 1918

The Souvenir‘ magazine of A Company, 6th officer Cadet Battalion, 5 April 1918 – 23 Oct. 1918

The Club at War’ is the WW1 edition of  the Balliol Boys’ Club magazine, issues 1-11 [complete], 1916-1919.

FF Urquhart’s photo album covering the period 1914-18 provides an evocative look at the involvement of Balliol men in the First World War.

Other resources:

An edition by FF Urquhart of Stephen Hewett (Balliol 1911)’s A Scholar’s Letters From the Front is also available online via archive.org, HERE.

An edition by his mother of Arthur Innes Adam (Balliol 1912)’s letters, Arthur Innes Adam, 1894-1916. A record founded on his letters is available online via archive.org HERE.

 Balliol’s memorial plaques, inscriptions, etc, including those for the fallen in both world wars, are listed HERE.


HE Salter’s Oxford Deeds of Balliol College (OHS 1913), an invaluable source of transcripts of our medieval deeds about the Broad Street site and properties within Oxford, is now online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/sets/72157625224325659/

book link

Frances de Paravicini, Early History of Balliol College – on archive.org