– 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.


monthly report September 2017

Some numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during September:

  • Number of enquiries: 61
  • Running total for 2017: 578
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 3
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 5
  • Collections consulted: college records,  medieval manuscripts (3)
  • Productions (consulted by researchers in person or by the archivist in response to enquiries), over 4 months since late May when a new production slip system was introduced – numbers doubtless incomplete:
    • 33 boxes containing from two bound volumes to 4 thick files of individual items, not including
    • 83 files – up to 200 items per file, not including
    • 50 individual items from a single letter to a bound volume, not including
    • 74 medieval ms codices
  • No of non-research visitors: ca.400
  • images created: 1300
  • events: Oxford Open Doors (7th year), patronal evening prayer service, Balliol incumbents’ conference visit to exhibition and evening prayer service, Balliol Society visitors to exhibition, individual visitors to exhibition

This month I’ve included a snapshot of numbers about enquirers’ place of origin (or at least geographical  research base) and enquiry type – I don’t do this every time as they get very repetitive; proportions are fairly consistent throughout the year and from year to year. Private family history enquiries may make up less of the annual total now that basic research sources such as the College Register and War Memorial Books have been available online for more than 5 years; individuals can use them without reference to the archivist, and they are being mentioned in e.g. family history/WW1 research forums as well. More about September’s enquiries (calculated out of 61):

Origin of enquiry

  • Internal (Balliol) 9, 15%
  • Oxford (outside Balliol) 17, 28%
  • Rest of UK 24, 39%
  • Other countries 11, 19% (Germany, France , Netherlands, Australia, USA, Italy, Canada)

Type of enquirer

  • Private (mostly biographical or local history) 20, 34%
  • Academic 18, 29%
  • Student 7, 11%
  • Institutional/admin 16, 26%

Some of the enquiry topics received in September:

  • advice re archives cataloguing and preservation
  • advice re student/volunteer projects in archives
  • requests for (new) digital images of medieval manuscripts
  • C17 college accounts
  • Buittle Castle
  • college hymn
  • college portraits and paintings
  • college rules for students in the 1920s
  • records of college livings and related estates/property
  • development of the tutorial system, late C19-earlyC20
  • history of the role of Visitor of the College
  • Balliol JCR and MCR Presidents
  • history of adult education in Oxford, late C19-early C20
  • Biographical research re / info on Balliol or related archives of
    • people who were not members of Balliol
    • Nathanael Konopios (Balliol 1630s/40s)
    • GM Hopkins (Balliol TT 1863)
    • R Browning (Hon Fellow 1867)
    • J Ashton Cross (Balliol 1868)
    • R Younger, Baron Blanesburgh (Balliol TT 1880)
    • OV Darbishire (Balliol 1888)
    • J O’Regan (Balliol 1889)
    • AR Cunliffe (Balliol 1890)
    • HJ Rofe (Balliol 1890)
    • CE Goetz (Balliol 1891)
    • FF Urquhart (Balliol 1891)
    • CN Dyer (Balliol 1897)
    • JS Mann (Balliol 1912)
    • HG Greene (Balliol 1922)
    • C Gilpatric (Balliol 1938)
    • JR Schlesinger (Balliol 1947)
    • Egerton Richardson (Balliol 1954)

monthly report August 2017

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during August:

Some of the enquiry topics received in August:

  • advice re archives access arrangements
  • advice re archives training/careers
  • advice re records management
  • requests for (new) digital images of medieval manuscripts
  • student protests in the 1960s
  • historic maps, plans and views of Balliol
  • C19 letters from India
  • Balliol JCR Presidents
  • pronunciation of Jowett
  • Biographical research re / info on Balliol or related archives of
    • John Wycliffe (Fellow and Master C14)
    • David Urquhart (1855-1928)
    • Thomas Hill Green (Balliol HT 1855) and Charlotte Byron Symonds Green
    • C19-early C20 Thai (Siamese) students at Balliol
    • HD Rawnsley (Balliol 1870)
    • William Henry ‘Billy’ Grenfell (Balliol 1874)
    • Owen Morgan Edwards (Balliol 1884)
    • Lawrence Evelyn-Jones (Balliol 1904)
    • JD Champneys (Balliol 1908)
    • Vivian Hunter Galbraith (Balliol 1910)
    • James Saumarez Mann (Balliol 1912)
    • Prof Leslie Lipson (Balliol 1931)
    • Adam von Trott zu Solz (Balliol 1931)
    • AF Giles (Balliol 1936)
    • Thomas Balogh (Fellow of Balliol 1940)




monthly report July 2017

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during July:

  • Number of enquiries: 54
  • Running total for 2017: 474
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 11
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 16
  • Collections consulted: Monckton Archive (4), Morier Archive, college records, Strachan-Davidson papers, Clough papers, medieval manuscripts, David Urquhart archive
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 50
  • Interesting events & activities: collections talk & display for university staff at the University of Oxford Research and Innovation Support Conference; medieval manuscripts workshop for tutor & students from St Peter’s College Summer School at Magdalen College
  • images created: 4000+

Some of the external (non-college) enquiry topics received in July:

  • advice re copyright in unpublished manuscript material
  • advice re archives access arrangements
  • advice re archives training/careers
  • advice re reliable sources to cite re college/university qualifications
  • advice re how to find an Oxford DPhil thesis
  • academic dress at Balliol in the 1920s
  • requests for (new) digital images of medieval manuscripts
  • sketchbooks in archives
  • detailed questions about MSS 383 and 451
  • C19 history of the Urquhart chalet(s)
  • Biographical research re / info on Balliol or related archives of
    • C19-early C20 Thai (Siamese) students at Balliol
    • astronomer James Bradley (Balliol 1711)
    • B Jowett (Balliol 1835)
    • M Arnold (Balliol 1840)
    • GM Hopkins (Balliol HT 1863, see 1862)
    • AL Smith (Balliol 1869)
    • CJG Montefiore (Balliol 1877)
    • SF Boas (Balliol 1881)
    • HS Malik (Balliol 1912)
    • WH Hollins (Balliol 1914, not resident)
    • CMN White (Balliol 1933)
    •  JB Bell (Balliol 1936)
    • HB Burgess (Balliol 1936)
    • JT Adamson (Balliol TT 1937, see 1936)
    • RB Joly (Balliol 1938)
    • GA McCaskie (Balliol 1938)
    • FDK Williams (Balliol 1938)
    • HC Dawkins (Balliol HT 1940 see 1939)
    • MJ Webb (Balliol 1943)
    • Greats results in 1951

As in most months, I have received queries about individuals who are not recorded as members of the college or university – this lack of documentation *usually* and *probably* indicates that they were not at Balliol/Oxford – but not absolutely.



termly report Trinity Term 2017

TT17 Week 6 HT (June) Library Committee

Archivist’s report

This paper reports on the Archivist’s work February – April 2017.

A) Enquiries, researchers & visitors


  • Enquiries: 62
  • Unique users: 8
  • Seats occupied: 15
  • Collections consulted:  medieval mss, George Malcolm, David Urquhart, Persian & Turkish mss, Jenkyns papers, college records
  • Visitors (non-research): 60+


  • Enquiries: 92
  • Unique users: 12
  • Seats occupied: 12
  • Collections consulted: medieval mss (4), Greene-Reid papers, Persian & Arabic mss, Malcolm, Morier Family and RBD Morier archives, Monckton papers, college records (2)
  • Visitors (non-research): ca40


  • Enquiries: 60
  • Unique users: 4
  • Seats occupied: 7
  • Collections consulted: oriental MSS (2), western medieval mss, college records
  • Visitors (non-research): 55+

Period totals/2017 running totals


  • Enquiries: 214/298
  • Unique users: 24/32
  • Seats occupied: 34/43
  • Visitors (non-research) 155+ / Ca 160

* * *

A handful of research topics, by researchers in person and remote enquirers, from the reporting period:

‘I research horizontal tree diagrams in the margins of manuscripts of the Lombard’s Sentences, among others. I want to see if these copies have some interesting marginalia, and if there are to note the folio numbers and perhaps take pictures or order images. I am interested especially the one that perhaps contains Rufus’ notes. The other volume is to satisfy my interest in the indexing procedure of the tabulae.’

‘ I am researching the London property market at the time of the Great Fire of 1666 – and I am finding out about College property holdings in the Square Mile. I have published on various aspects of the City of London in the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘



‘I am currently preparing the publication of my PhD thesis on the mise en page and the illustrations in medieval manuscripts containing Aristotelian treatises, to be published by Böhlau Verlag, Cologne, Germany, later this year. I would love to include some illustrations of MS 253, a particularly densely glossed manuscript of Aristotle’s logical treatises and contains some very original depictions of teaching scenes. On your wonderful website, I found photos of excellent quality, and I would like to ask for permission to publish them in my thesis.’

  1. B) Arrangement & description and collection care

John Jones’ lists of papers of Julian Miller (Balliol 1957) and Arthur Hugh Sidgwick (Balliol 1903), both listed for the first time, are now online.

In response to specific external enquiries, I have checked, ordered and numbered several files of the David Urquhart and Morier Family archives, and added item-level descriptions for all items to the online catalogues (files run to 50+ items). It is unfortunate that the physical items were not numbered when the papers were catalogued in the 1990s.

Conservation: Housing of all the manuscript books is now complete, with many thanks to OCC and PADS. There are still some old boxes that need replacing, but this is not urgent, and can be done in tandem with planned conservation of those individual manuscripts. Treatment of several manuscripts, notably MS 354 (Richard Hill’s commonplace book of ca 1510), continues in preparation for September’s exhibition.

C) Engagement

Social media

• Facebook: 937 Likes. Weekly updates, links to blog posts, notices of events, etc.

• Twitter: 1900 total Tweets, 1494 followers

• Blog: 17 new posts including several school group activities

Image management

• Oxfile (OUCS)– used 32 times Feb-Apr, total 290 times, to send images, externally and within college, across archival collections.

• Images created: 8000+.

  • Browning draft/printer’s proofs volumes (MSS 387-392) have been photographed in full
  • Images of all 10 volumes of Clark’s annual lists of Balliol members 1520-1822 are online – a key college history/family history/biographical research resource.

Outreach & Events:

• Antechapel displays and ‘Document in Focus’ features in Broad St Library, prepared by Anna, continue


  • • medieval mss display by Anna continued & taken down
  • • George Malcolm centenary exhibition by Giles Dawson opened
  • • Unlocking Archives talk by Monica Kendall on 18th century letters, Jane Austen and social history
  • • Unlocking Archives talk by Giles Dawson on George Malcolm’s centenary


  • • George Malcolm centenary exhibition continued, and taken down
  • • Unlocking Archives talk by Lucy Kelsall on the cataloguing side of the Reconstructing Nicholas Crouch project
  • • Library staff lead Into University group visit at St Cross
  • • display of newly acquired Jowett letters for Jowett Society launch event in Broad Street.


  • • temporary Prof Les Woods memorial exhibition by Jo Ashbourn open, and taken down
  • • Les Woods memorial event at St Cross
  • • Anna & Gabrielle present hands-on special collections
  • handling training workshop for Balliol English & History students
  • • Anna with colleagues staffing college archivists’ table at undergraduate History Thesis Fair

D) Future events

Summer schedule so far:

  • • Watford Girls’ Grammar school groups for a manuscripts activity (repeat visit)
  • • Wolvercote Local History Society, theme tbc by them (Old Member contact) [postponed]
  • • Bodleian archives & mss trainees for a careers talk (repeat visit)
  • • Oxford Research & Innovation Support Conference delegates for a general tour (recommended)
  • • Open Doors: St Cross will be open for Oxford Open Doors, weekend of 9-10 September, 12-4pm both days.

This will be the 7th year that Balliol has opened St Cross to the public for Open Doors, and hundreds of people keep coming! I hope the medieval mss exhibition, which will be launched for this open weekend and then continue throughout MT17, will be an extra draw this year.





F) CPD/training/staff

Anna CPD:

  • • attended meetings of the Management Committee of the Oxford Conservation Consortium in February and April
  • • attended Gerald Aylmer Seminar 2017 (London, IHR): ‘Strongroom to Seminar: archives and teaching in higher education’ (February)
  • • attended Teaching the Codex II colloquium on the pedagogy of palaeography and codicology (May)

We note with sadness the death of Prof Elliott Horowitz z”l (Oliver Smithies Visiting Fellow 2014-15) in March 2017. He had completed the beautiful and successful Hebraica & Judaica exhibition at St Cross in Michaelmas 2016, culminating in a day of fascinating talks by Oxford experts in November.


– Anna Sander, TT 2017 (June)

monthly report June 2017

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during June:

  • Number of enquiries: 62
  • Running total for 2017: 420
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 4
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 4
  • Collections consulted: college records, medieval mss (2), Nicolson diaries
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 50
  • Interesting events & activities: manuscripts encounter activity for groups from Watford Girls’ Grammar School, careers talk and display for Bodleian Libraries trainees from across the University and college libraries

Some of the external (non-college) enquiry topics received in June:

  • C17 College servants
  • C17 members of College
  • C17 college history
  • C17 Greek Orthodox members of College/University
  • C18 members of College
  • C19-20 Boat Club records
  • Biographical research for local WW1 memorials and centenary commemorations
  • New Deal economist and presidential adviser Isador Lubin & the 1945 Moscow Reparations Commission
  • Works of art by John Minton, Samuel Wale RA, Allan Barr
  • C20 silver (plate) history
  • Biographical research re judge Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh (Balliol TT1880); philosopher TH Green (Balliol 1880); journal editor and writer JA Spender (Balliol 1881); politician, motorist, and litigant Frank, 2nd Earl Russell (Balliol 1883); poet and author Hilaire Belloc (Balliol Hilary Term 1893) and his record-setting walk to London; Slavonic scholar Nevill Forbes (Balliol 1903); Indian civil servant and diplomat Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol 1912)
  • Early C20 Balliol property in Oxford
  • Balliol during WW2
  • Identifying college architecture from old photos
  • Advice on preservation and arrangement of small institutional archives

monthly report May 2017

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during May:

  • Number of enquiries: 60 (again)
  • Running total for 2017: 358
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 5
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 7
  • Collections consulted: oriental mss, medieval mss, Jowett papers
  • No of non-research visitors: ca 20
  • Interesting events & activities: Anna & Gabrielle present hands-on special collections handling training workshop for Balliol English & History students; Unlocking Archives talk by Nikki Tomkins (OCC) on conserving Nicholas Crouch books for Wellcome project

Some of the external (non-college) enquiry topics received in May:

  • Request to visit the church & information re memorials
  • C15 members of College
  • C17 members of New Inn Hall, later absorbed by Balliol
  • C19-20 pre-admission student orientation/training/preparation
  • Balliol heraldry
  • Balliol’s role in the early development of the WEA and Continuing Education in Oxford
  • Local and church history: St Lawrence Jewry, London
  • Balliol during and following WW1
  • JRR Tolkien material at Balliol
  • Biographical research on
    • diarist & writer John Evelyn (Balliol 1637)
    • physician and diplomat Sir John Finch (Balliol 1642)
    • scholar and educator John White (Balliol Hilary Term 1858)
    • college historian Frances de Paravicini, wife of Francis de Paravicini (Fellow of Balliol 1862)
    • AL Smith (Balliol 1869)
    • Shyamji Krishna Varma (also Krishnavarma, Balliol HT 1879)
    • politician, countryman, and author Edward Grey, Viscount Grey of Fallodon (Balliol 1880)
    • historian and Fellow of Balliol Francis Urquhart (Balliol 1890)
    • RW Fletcher (Balliol 1910)
    • WW1 poet Stephen Hewett (Balliol 1911)
    • writer Aldous Huxley (Balliol 1913)
    • solicitor JS Hickey (Balliol 1914)
    • barrister LM Caulfeild-Stoker (Balliol 1930)
    • first president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama (Balliol 1945)

monthly report April 2017

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during April:

  • Number of enquiries: 60
  • Running total for 2017: 298
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 4
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 7
  • Collections consulted: oriental MSS (2), western medieval mss, college records
  • No of non-research visitors: 55+
  • Interesting events & activities: temporary Prof Les Woods memorial exhibition open, and taken down; Anna & Gabrielle present hands-on special collections handling training workshop for Balliol English & History students; Anna with colleagues staffing college archivists table at undergraduate History Thesis Fair.

Some of the external (non-college) enquiry topics received in April:

  • Medieval Oxford – Colleges and Halls
  • Balliol’s foundation
  • Connection between Roger Bacon and Balliol
  • Connection of John de Balliol, King of Scots, with the Founders and the College
  • C17 membership and residence
  • John Evelyn’s diaries
  • Women in 18th century land transaction/ownership documents
  • Connection between Jane Austen’s family and Balliol
  • WW1 officer cadets at Balliol
  • Early Chinese students at Balliol
  • ‘unbuilt Balliol’
  • The St Cross building project
  • College Chapel registers of baptisms
  • The Balliol Barge
  • Records of student work and surviving examples
  • Biographical research on
    • Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead (Balliol 1873)
    • Wallace Le Patourel (Balliol 1886)
    • Charles Percy Hill (Balliol 1896)
    • Arthur High Sidgwick (Balliol 1901)
    • Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol 1912)
    • Alan Wallace (Balliol 1912)
    • Selkirk Chapman (Balliol 1919)
    • David Moffat Johnson (Balliol 1923)
    • Hugh Stretton (Balliol 1947)
    • Derek Parfit (Balliol 1961)
    • C20 College staff (College Servants in historical records)
  • information about and/or copies from
    • Mallet Papers
    • Arnold Family papers
    • Monckton papers
    • David Urquhart papers
    • AW Leeper papers
    • medieval manuscripts