December 1, 2011, by Dorothy Johnston

Advent greetings from Manuscripts and Special Collections


From 'Conversations of a Father', i (1835), Briggs Collection.

Now that the e-advent calendar is live, we have been able to reflect on the project.  Has it achieved what we hoped for?  Our objective was to use the festive theme to illustrate the great variety of the collections. We wanted to show their potential to tell stories about people, events and past times in ways that refer to the Christmas season and also resonate with current concerns.

As the planning advanced, the surprise was to discover how many colleagues in other parts of the university were becoming engaged in this process, including some who had never previously been aware of the collections. They have succeeded in placing  the historic content in a meaningful contemporary context.


Xmas Card, 1890

Christmas card, c. 1890


We have been asked, how did you come to select these particular images?  Although many archives come from individuals, families and organisations that will undoubtedly have celebrated a Christmas holiday, relevant  items are not always identified in catalogues, with their focus on core research content. A certain amount of patience and serendipity was needed,  guided by memories of sorting bundles for cataloguing. Inevitably, with so much to choose from, some of our favourite images did not make the final cut.  We share a few of them here.


Old Christmas

Washington Irving, 'Old Christmas' (1876) binding detail.


While the obvious aim of the posts has been to remind us of the season, the project reflects longer term  objectives in Manuscripts and Special Collections. It gives an online taster of the rich breadth of the historic collections. Such promotion of these resources to researchers and the wider community, and their delivery in digital form, lie at the heart of our aspirations for their development.



Impact Campaign
If you would like to know more about our development plans, visit our pages on the Impact Campaign website.

Posted in From the collectionsPublicityUncategorized