Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts

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2013 Annual Record report

We are nearing completion of a second successful year of having the Historic Collections Centre at St Cross Church open for academic research, manuscripts workshops, research seminars, talks and tours, exhibitions, open days and many other activities.

During the period August 2012 – May 2013, 83 individuals have carried out research in Balliol’s special collections over 150 days at St Cross, and in addition there have been nearly 750 remote enquiries about the archives and manuscript collections. Enquiry and visitor patterns remain similar to last year’s but, as expected, numbers are rising steadily, and this year has seen a widening range of activities taking place in St Cross.  

The Oxford Open Doors weekend in September 2012 brought 654 people to St Cross; we will be joining in again in September 2013 and welcoming participants in the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust’s Ride & Stride event on the same weekend. The Robert Browning bicentenary exhibition at St Cross curated by the Fellow Librarian, Dr Perry, and Michael Meredith of Eton College Library (Balliol 1955), displaying original items from Balliol’s and Eton’s collections, was visited by approximately 100 people during private group viewings and public opening hours in September and October. In return for Eton’s kind loan of several fascinating items, Balliol lent Browning’s ring and the Old Yellow Book for Eton’s own Browning exhibition later in the year.

Selected highlights of 2012-13 at St Cross include the patronal festival service in September; displays of archival documents and manuscripts for the OU Bibliographical Society, members of Balliol MCR, Balliol and other undergraduate English students and an Oxford graduate seminar in medieval literature; a BBC radio recording for a series on the history of the English carol, using MS 354; a BBC TV recording for a series on the Normans, using MS 350; and hosting a thread of talks during the Holywell Manor Festival in April.

 Details of more of the year’s events can be found on the Archives & MSS blog, link below. Plans are already well underway across Oxford for commemorative exhibitions and events of all kinds during the centenary of the First World War beginning in 2014 – there will be several talks, including one by Aoife O’Gorman, the current Balliol-Bodley Scholar, and an exhibition at St Cross during the year. College, University and city organisations will be coordinating their calendars at

From October 2012 – February 2013 I was very glad to have the assistance of Dr Claire Williams at St Cross. Already a seasoned archival researcher from her doctoral work at Sheffield, she gained experience on the other side of the desk by invigilating readers and cataloguing with great detail and accuracy a run of Balliol’s letters to and from Robert Browning and his sister Sarianna.  Her appointment in March to a postdoctoral post on the OUP Complete Works of Thomas Browne project marked the end of her cataloguing days at Balliol and the beginning of an exciting academic career.

2013 has seen the beginning of a new series of research seminars at St Cross: Unlocking Archives features a monthly talk, with illustrations from the collections and a display of items discussed, by researchers in a wide range of fields, focussing on Balliol’s special collections and setting them in a wider research context. Talks are usually on Fridays at lunchtime, and are open to all. The series will continue throughout the year and into 2014 - tune in below for future dates!

Notices of new catalogues, future events and other items of interest are now regularly posted on Twitter and Facebook, and in more detail on the blog; archivists may still use medieval Latin regularly, but these days we also use social media to make our work more visible and accessible!

Balliol’s Historic Collections Centre is open to any visitor or researcher by prior appointment with the Lonsdale Curator. As part of Balliol’s 750th celebrations, a major exhibition, curated by Dr John Jones and coinciding with the Balliol Society weekend, will be held at St Cross in September.

  • Anna Sander, Lonsdale Curator of Archives and Manuscripts


Enquiries about the archives can be directed to Anna by post or by email at
Enquiries about living old members should be directed to the Development Office.

- John Jones and Anna Sander

You do not need to request permission to download or print one copy of any of the images on these pages for your personal private study or research purposes.
You do need to request permission in writing to use any of these images for any publication in any format, including any use on a website.

The archives and manuscripts of Balliol College are open by appointment to enquirers in person at the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church, Holywell.
Enquiries should be sent in writing (email or post).
There is no charge for Archive enquiries, but donations for Archive purposes are always appreciated.
Updated 13.x.14
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