Calling students: Travelling Incognito? Help us unmask some anonymous authors of manuscript travel diaries, c. 1790-1830

The Detective by Paurian (Flick)

The Detectuve by Paurian (Flickr) http://bit.ly/1J8I4s3

Oxford History Faculty students are invited to come to the Weston Library on Thursday 11 June to use their detective skills and help us solve some manuscript mysteries.

Over many decades the Bodleian has acquired a very large number of manuscript diaries which together form a vital source particularly for social history. Many of these date from the late-18th to the mid-19th century, and travel diaries are the most represented genre. We have never been able to find the authorship for several of these diaries, and their interest and usefulness for research would increase considerably if we knew who had written them. They were mostly acquired before the Internet began to change the possibilities for research, so now, in the light of the increasing range of information available online, it is time to revisit our anonymous diaries to see if we can unmask the authors.

The inspiration for this idea has come from several successful efforts to establish authorship of recently acquired manuscripts. There is a blog post on the ‘Archives and Manuscripts at the Bodleian’ blog, explaining how the author of one diary was discovered. This will help to give some idea about how the problem can be approached.

So now we need your help! Come and help us to read through as many of the diaries as we can, looking for internal clues as to their authorship – names of friends and family, addresses, marriages, christenings, burials – anything that can be used to bring the vast array of internet resources to bear on the subject.

When

Thursday 11 June, in two sessions 11.00am to 1.00pm and 2.00-4.00pm. We hope you can attend the whole day, but you are free to go when you like! Places are restricted so book your place here. (SSO required; only open to history students.).

Where

Weston Library, Centre for Digital Scholarship (CDS) – meet in the reader Enquiries area (green sofas) on the 1st Floor.

What we will do on the day

  1. Create small teams of 2 or 3 students and allocate a diary to each teams
  2. Read as much as possible of the diaries, and take notes of interesting names, places, events or other information that might help to identify the author, or at least add value to the description
  3. Use the extraordinary range of digitised books, manuscripts and catalogues, academic and family history material to track down names and see how powerful these tools can be if used carefully.
  4. Invite participants to take digital images of pages from the diaries so that they can continue to work on them if they wish and send us further findings.
  5. Invite participants to contribute to the Bodleian blog to highlight discoveries

What you will gain from the experience?

  • This is a chance to meet staff in Special Collections and to use original manuscript resources.
  • To be part of the discovery process, and contribute to the enhancement of catalogue descriptions
  • Learn techniques for reading tricky handwriting
  • Learn about the array of internet resources helpful for historical research, and how to harness the power of Google.
  • Learn about the catalogues of manuscripts in the Bodleian, and the relationship between items and their descriptions.

What you will need

  • Bring your laptop, tablet, i-pad, digital camera or smartphone. We hope to be able to use the resources of the CDS but it is not fully functioning yet.
  • Pencils (but not pens!)
  • Remember to bring your library card and a £1 coin for the Weston lockers.

Any queries?

Contact: Mike Webb, Curator of Early Modern Archives & Manuscripts, Email: mike.webb@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, Tel.: 01865 (2)77164

Reading rooms in Weston Library open 29 Sept

Today (29 Sept 2014) is an important milestone in the history of the Bodleian Library: The Weston Library (formerly New Bodleian Library) opened its three reading rooms to readers. The temporary Special Collections Reading Room in the RSL and Rhodes House Library have now transferred to the Weston Library.

At the moment the building is initially opening exclusively to readers. Some disruption, due to continuing collection moves and fitting-out of public areas, including exhibition galleries and tearoom, will continue until the official opening in March 2015.

Where is the Weston Library?

The Weston Library is on the site of the former New Bodleian Library, ie the corner of Broad Street and Park Road. The reader entrance is on Park Road.

Weston on map

What are the opening hours?
Mon-Fri 9am – 7pm; Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun closed

Which reading room should I use?

  • RARE BOOKS, ARCHIVES AND WESTERN MANUSCRIPTS is in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room (Level 1)
  • MAPS are in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room (Level 1)
  • MUSIC is in the Mackerras Reading Room (Level 1)
  • ORIENTAL MANUSCRIPTS AND RARE BOOKS are in the David Reading Room (Level 5)
  • COMMONWEALTH AND AFRICAN STUDIES COLLECTIONS are in the David Reading Room (Level 5)

You can order normal stack request items to any of the reading rooms.

Moves of collections into the Weston Library will take place until Summer 2016 as material currently kept at other locations is transferred. During this period items may still be ordered as normal, but will be subject to a 24 hour delivery time. Updates of collection moves.

Duke Humfrey’s Library is now closed until Monday 13 October 2014 when it will re-open as an invigilated reading room supporting higher-level studies in the Humanities. Open-shelf material, esp local history in R.Top and R1-R3, etc. will remain in Duke Humfrey’s. During the closure period, contact library staff if you need any material in R.Top or R1-3.

Related links:

Special Collections Contact details

Catalogue of the papers of Harold Macmillan, 1889-1987 – now online

Harold_Macmillan_number_10_officialYou’ve never had it so good.

The catalogue of Harold Macmillan’s papers, held in Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, now online.

Previously there was only a typescript catalogue.

Please note that there are strict access conditions but they are available for research.

Undergraduates can use the Bodleian’s Special Collections but will need to register first.

> Catalogue of the papers of Harold Macmillan, 1889-1987

Macmillan online catalogue

Overview of his papers:

A    Diaries, 1915-1986

B    Constituencey papers, 1924-1986

C    Ministerial and Prime Ministerial papers, 1940-1963

D    Political papers, 1924-1986

E    General correspondence, 1912-1986

F    Miscellaneous papers, arranged by subject, 1916-1987

G    Speeches, 1925-1986

H    Interviews and broadcasts, 1942-1985

I    Memoirs and literary papers, 1918-1986

J    Printed material

K    Photographs, 1889-1984

L    Press cuttings, 1950-1984

M    Audiovisual material, 1949-1987 and n.d.

Related resource:

Macmillan Cabinet Papers 1957-63 [Oxford subscription]

Macmillan Online offers direct access to documents from the highest level of Government during the Macmillan Administration. Topics covered include the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, the Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1962, and the Profumo Scandal, June 1963. With some 30,000 images of original documents, taken from CAB 128 and CAB 129 as well as selected files from PREM 11 and CAB 124, this project is as important a source for world history as it is for British politics.

New: Records relating to the Slave Trade at the Liverpool Record Office

I am pleased to report that Oxford readers now have access to Records relating to the Slave Trade at the Liverpool Record Office via OxLIP+ and also shortly via SOLO.

Part 1 of the British Online Archives series British records on the Atlantic World, 1700-1900, this full-text database provides access to one of the best collections in British archives of private merchants’ papers relating to the transatlantic slave trade.

Case & Southworth papers: Journals: From Kingston, Jamaica, for the period 1756-1761.

Case & Southworth papers: Journals: From Kingston, Jamaica, for the period 1756-1761.

Liverpool was the leading slave trading port in the world in the eighteenth century when these documents were compiled. The material includes correspondence with ship captains and Caribbean agents about the acquisition of Africans and their sale; statistics on the Liverpool slave trade; sales accounts of the lots of Africans disembarked in the Americas, often with the names of purchasers and prices; information on dealings with diverse African groups along the coast of West Africa; and details of payments for slave sales. The account books of ships’ voyages include material on the outfitting of vessels and the cargoes of goods exported to Africa. Among the items included in this collection are records of the wealthy merchant and banker, Thomas Leyland, who was three times Mayor of Liverpool, and letters by the slave trade captain, John Newton, who later became a clergyman, the composer of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, and a prominent abolitionist.

Related resources:

Launched 28 Feb: Manuscripts Online: Written Culture 1000 to 1500

Launched today, Manuscripts Online: Written Culture 1000 to 1500, funded by JISC, brings to life early printed primary sources of medieval Britain, giving online access to written materials from 1000 to 1500. Manuscripts Online is also a crowd sourcing tool, encouraging users to attach comments about the manuscripts they view to an online map.

Manuscripts Online banner

Users can search an enormous body of online primary resources including:

Visit the Manuscripts Online website for a full list of the resources. This will be added to OxLIP+ shortly.

(from JISC news, 28/2/13).

mssonline