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.
In late April we had the pleasure of a visit from Mary Jo Dorsey of National Institute of Newman Studies, Pittsburgh (NINS) and Brother Joseph from Birmingham Oratory for the first full Newman Archive team meeting at John Rylands Library. This was an excellent opportunity to catch up and discuss the progress of the project.
The third batch of archives CHICC digitised in the previous months had over 21,000 images and has now been returned and exchanged for Batch Four. The running total of images produced in this project so far comes to 63,607 images. Batch Four is due for handover in July.
L-R: Tony Richards, Mary Jo Dorsey, Brother Joseph, Jamie Robinson and Cerys Speakman.
CHICC have also switched from shooting with the Mamiya 645DF+ camera to the Phase One iXR camera with the iQ180 back, this enables the photographers to control the camera remotely from a computer, easily moving from Live View to Capture and adjusting focus at the click of a button. More info at the Phase One website.
As the CHICC team near completion of the second batch of archive material, a few of us were invited to visit the Birmingham Oratory. This was a wonderful opportunity for the team to put the material into context and learn more about Cardinal Newman himself. Brother Joseph and Daniel Joyce gave us a tour of the Oratory and let us in on its history.
Pictured: The Cloister
We were fortunate enough to be shown Cardinal Newman’s room, in which he lived and worked until he died at the age of 89. The room remains in its original condition.
Pictured: Cardinal Newman’s room:
We were shown The Cardinal Newman Library, which Newman founded in 1848 and made significant contributions to throughout his lifetime. We spent some time viewing pieces of interest including those with original medieval bindings and we discussed conservation issues surrounding these items.
Pictured below is the remainder of the Newman archive awaiting digitisation, minus the fifty boxes already digitised or currently held at the John Rylands Library. As you can see, we will be kept busy for quite some time yet!
Pictured below: The Newman Chapel
Pictured: The Oratory Church:
Finally, a trip to Birmingham Oratory isn’t complete without honorary tour guide, Pushkin the cat, a firm favorite with visitors!
Thank you to everybody at the Oratory for making us welcome, the visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all. For more information about the Oratory, you can visit their website here.
The digitisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s archive is now in full swing. Since the project began only a few months ago, we have taken more than 17,600 images so far, across 22 boxes of material.
We are thrilled to now have Tony Richards and Cerys Speakman working on the project, Tony as our photographer and Cerys as our digitisation assistant. Take a look at Tony’s amazing vintage photographic work on his site here.
A letter addressed to ‘J’ at the Oratory
The vast majority of the items we have photographed so far have been letters of correspondence to a variety of people, but there are also other pieces of ephemera that detail the day to day life of the Oratory, And a wonderful photographic album containing many portraits of Newman himself.
Re packaged boxes in the climate controlled strong room at The John Rylands Library
As well as digitising the entire archive, the project also includes rehousing all the material into acid free, conservation friendly bespoke packaging. Boxes are custom made by the Collection Care team on our box maker.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Batches of 25 boxes are being shipped between the Oratory and the Rylands, the first count of 17,625 images is only from the first 22 boxes. The hand over for the next batch is in August, so once the National Institute for Newman Studies have the images, expect a lot more posting of interesting finds on the blog!
CHICC will be using top of the range equipment, Phase One IQ180 cameras and custom built cradle and support systems to digitise the entire archive.
With CHICC, The National Institute for Newman Studies and Birmingham Oratory all working in collaboration to get the Archive online, it will prove to be an exciting process with all 3 institutions contributing to the blog. Follow us, and keep up to date with all the latest news from the project.