Batch 6 Update

Today we exchanged Batch 6 for Batch 7.

Batch 6 was meant to be a smaller batch of twenty boxes, for completion before Christmas. It turned out the contents were greater than expected, just eleven boxes of this batch produced over 19000 images, so the full batch would have been nearer 40000 images! We will carry over nine boxes and add it to Batch 7.

To present we have digitised a total of 119000 images for the archive.


Image from The Press on Cardinal Newman, With A Short Sketch of His Life.

“Ealing School Playground, August 11 1853″.

Today we came across a more unusual and unexpected item in the Newman Archive – in amongst the thousands of letters, an envelope simply labelled “Ealing School Playground, August 11 1853″. Inside, a collection of dry leaves with no further explanation.

B121_A5.1_D001_P054 B121_A5.1_D001_P055

It seems Newman must have paid a visit to Ealing School, where he had studied between the ages of seven and fifteen. At the end of his time at Ealing School, Newman underwent his conversion, influenced by Thomas Scott.  ‘. . . to whom (humanly speaking)  I almost owe my soul.’  Newman would have been 52 years old when he collected these leaves. This would make these preserved leaves over 161 years old!

It’s all a bit of a mystery – can anyone help us get to the root of it?

Glass plate negatives…

Presently sitting in the CHICC store are three unassuming boxes and one crate.

The contents are a little different to previous digitised material…. a collection of glass plate negatives.

They vary in size from small 6×9 cm to larger 10×12 inches plates. Some are copies of letters and correspondence, some are personal candids and the larger 10×12 inch plates show the interior of Cardinal Newmans room at Birmingham Oratory. An exciting and important visual record.


The plates will have to be carefully cleaned and rehoused by our conservation team prior to digitisation.


For now here is one plate of Cardinal Newman sitting patiently for the camera.

Did you know that Cardinal Newman enjoyed composing music?


This gallery contains 4 photos.

He sometimes penned his Latin name, Giovanni Enrico Neandrini Here are some photos of his early compositions dating back to 1821 (Oxford) and 1832 (a composition to his sister) Photos taken during the digitization project preparation at Birmingham Oratory, October … Continue reading

Feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman

Feast Days of the Blesseds and Saints are usually marked on the day they died. The Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman , despite the fact he died on August 11 1890,  is celebrated on October 9th, the day he converted to the Catholic Church.

Here is a letter penned on that very day.


Littlemore, October 9. 1845

My Dear Madam,

  I have not been able to tell you. I shall, please God, be received this evening. Father Dominic, the Passionist, who is hearing my confession, did not come till late last night, and has to get away soon, being on his way to Belgium. So he fixed this evening.

  I am so engaged, in various ways, as you may suppose, that I merely tell you this, thanking you sincerely for all the interest you feel in me, and earnestly praying & trusting that it will not be found misplaced. The Church of Rome has never acknowledged English Orders, though she has never formally denied them. Practically, I am a layman in her eyes.

  Yours very sincerely,

    John H Newman


Digitising Newman




A fantastic video about the digitisation of the Newman Archive is now online. Filmed in all locations involved in the project, it gives a great overview, how we are digitising the archive, and what will happen with the 30TB of data we are producing…

Crests & Coats of Arms

One thing that I see a lot of, during the digitisation of the Cardinal Newman Archive, is paper.

In these days of email and text message, I had to think of the last time I sat down and wrote somebody a letter. Its been a while, but if I had to, I’d be hard pressed to find some decent paper to write it on. I’m sure the majority of people would have to resort to raiding their computer printer tray for a sheet of white A4. So I found great interest in the Crests and Coats of Arms that decorate much of the correspondence in the archive.

Here are just a few.