History seminars at the IHR

History of Libraries

 A series of research seminars, which are freely open for anyone to attend, has been organized by the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The seminars are jointly sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Library & Information History Group of CILIP.

Meetings usually take place monthly during term-time on Tuesdays at 5.30 p.m. in Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, but a number have been arranged elsewhere (see below).

Conveners: Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library); Dr. Keith A. Manley (National Trust); Professor Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies); Dr.Raphaële Mouren (Warburg Institute); Professor Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary)

For enquiries relating to this seminar please contact Jon Millington: jon.millington@sas.ac.uk

Venue: Various locations inside and outside the University of London, as in the programme, below.

Time: Mainly Tuesdays, beginning at 17:30, unless otherwise indicated in the programme, below. 

Some podcasts from this seminar are available online

Summer Term 2015
DateSeminar details
5 May Bombs on Books: Germany's Lost Libraries of WWII

Dr. Jan L. Alessandrini (University of St. Andrews)

Questions concerning the rescue, reconstruction, and restitution of libraries during (and after) WWII continue to fox book historians. This paper focuses on the administrative and practical measures undertaken by German libraries that suffered some of the worst damages, including Hamburg, Lübeck and Rostock, to rescue rare books from deliberate destruction. Furthermore, it investigates the reconstruction that took place in the immediate aftermath of WWII, whilst tracing the displacement of books taken as trophies of war. Finally, this paper tackles the (thorny) issue of restitution, considering Cold War relationships, transnational policies implemented to return lost books after the thaw in the 1990s, as well as the technological initiatives that are making rediscovered materials available again to wider audiences.

Venue:  Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB

2 June 'Painters, limners, writers, and bookbinders': Matthew Parker's printed books
William Hale (Cambridge University Library)


The Parker collection of manuscripts at Corpus Christi College is one of the glories of Cambridge, but Parker's still larger library of printed books has remained relatively little explored. As Parker Taylor Bibliographer, William Hale spent three years cataloguing the collection and here looks at the history and characteristics of the library of one of the great English reformers.

Venue: This meeting will take place in the Guard Room of Lambeth Palace.

Those wishing to attend should send their names in advance to Mary Comer (mary.comer@churchofengland.org; tel: 020 7898 1263), not later than Friday 29th May.  Admittance not before 5.15 p.m. via the main gatehouse of Lambeth Palace.


14 July 'Libraries Sold and Saved: Three Hundred Years of Collecting Books in London' : a Library Walk

Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd.)

This is a repeat of last year’s popular seminar walk.

Meeting point: Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

Tube: Euston/Euston Square/Warren Street. Commencing 5.30 p.m. (until 7.30).

You are invited to spend a summer’s evening in London hunting out book collectors past. Hear a medley of tales about libraries built, libraries sold and libraries saved. From the shadows will emerge a fine supporting cast of booksellers, auctioneers, dealers, agents and librarians.

Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd) will guide you through the streets of Bloomsbury and Holborn. As you go, ghostly catalogues will be scanned, treasures found, inscriptions noted, bookplates added, shelves filled, cheques cashed, volumes cherished and books dispersed.

The evening will begin at 5.30 p.m. with a curator-led viewing of a selection of books once owned by the designer, craftsman, author and socialist William Morris. When much of Morris’s collection from Kelmscott House was sold at auction in 1898, over a third of the material was acquired by the Wellcome Library’s founder. The Wellcome Trust’s headquarters, which is next door to the Wellcome Library, is the walk’s starting point. Once William Morris and Henry Wellcome’s lives as book collectors have been introduced, it will be time to move outside. After strolling through three hundred years of library history, the walk ends near Fleet Street at approximately 7.30pm.

Numbers are limited to 25 people, and pre-booking is essential. Please book at the University of London’s Online store: http://store.london.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=5&deptid=179&catid=31&prodid=905  Tickets, which are non-refundable, are £10 each.