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A symposium presented by Christ Church College and the Centre for the Study of the Book, Bodleian Library, with the assistance of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
Christ Church College, Oxford
Thursday, 20 November, 2008
Click to see articles by
symposium contributors John Milsom, Cristina Neagu and Annette Walton in the Christ Church Library newsletter, Trinity 2009
What would you do with a museum, library, or archival collection, given unlimited
time, funds, and permission?
Keep the donor's books in the place he intended them to be used, where it's possible to feel the donor's presence around us.
-- Cristina Neagu (Christ Church College), who spoke about the illuminated lectionary commissioned by Thomas Wolsey in 1528.
'The Books of Thomas Wolsey at Christ Church'
Use the objects in a collection to tell a story -- bring them out of basement rooms and into contact with people.
-- David Berry (Ashmolean Museum), who told of the vicissitudes of collections of antique sculpture and inscriptions brought to Oxford in the
'The Collections of Antique Sculpture at Oxford'
Make detailed inventories of the auction catalogues: the information about what collectors bought and how much they
paid is often jotted in the margins. These are the primary sources of collection history.
-- Mark Purcell (National Trust Libraries Curator), who contrasted the current location of the library of Sir Richard Ellys at Blickling Hall in Norfolk
with its likely location during the collector's lifetime, in London, where it supported the collector's social
connections and provided
an armory for his
religious and political convictions
'Sir Richard Ellys (1674-1742) and his Library'
Digitization: pictures could be made far more accessible to scholars through images than they can possibly be through verbal descriptions.
-- Malcolm Jones (University of Sheffield), who traced the popular iconography of some of the
unique and rare survivals of 16th and 17th-century popular prints in the Douce Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, including Continental prints from which the English editions were copied
'In the Lost and Found: Discoveries in Douce's Collection of Early Modern English Prints'
Turn back the clock to undo curatorial interventions that have shuffled the items in a collection and bound them together, sometimes without
-- John Milsom (Christ Church College), who suggested a difference between 'accumulation' and 'collecting', with reference to the gathering of an
ephemeral form, music, that only acquired the status of historical documents for a few specialists, like Henry Aldrich, in the eighteenth century
'Oxford's Music Collections, c. 1600-1750'
Reassemble dispersed papers in an electronic archive.
-- Julian Pooley (The Nichols Archive Project), on his discoveries of papers from the family of John Nichols the publisher and editor of the
Gentleman's Magazine, and friend of Richard Gough the antiquarian
'A Packhorse to Literature: John Nichols (1745-1826), Printer, Antiquary, Biographer and Collector'
Do the objects in a historical collection reflect the taste and political views of the
contemporary collector? More research into the process of
acquisition (when? from whom?) could significantly challenge this assumption, making the process appear less immediate and spontaneous than
it seemed at first glance.
-- Annette Walton (Linacre College), who found a mystery in the varied provenances of a collection of Civil War pamphlets held under the name
of Thomas Marshall in Lincoln College, and attempted to find the solution through analysis of the paper, binding, and marginal notes
'The Thomas Marshall Collection of Civil War Pamphlets: One Man’s Record of ‘ye late troubles of England’'