In 1993, the Institute Library was the grateful recipient of the valuable bequest of the library of Mr Victor A. Hatley of Northampton who died in November 1991.
Victor A. Hatley read history at Durham, spent his professional life as a librarian, and was a mainstay of the Northamptonshire Record Society for upwards of thirty years, editing or contributing to a number of their publications. His knowledge of modern social and economic history was reputedly encyclopaedic, and he was generally regarded as better informed than anyone else about the history of Northampton from the eighteenth century. He enjoyed a very high reputation for generosity with his time and knowledge towards serious scholars and inexperienced students alike. From all accounts he appears have been something of an engaging peripatetic reference service, remembered with affection in Northampton and further afield.
Mr Hatley had an excellent working library which reflected his interests as a scholar of modern Northamptonshire and more generally of modern industrial development and social conditions, with further interests in religious and in military history. The collection was bequeathed with no conditions attached. Donald Munro went to Northampton to survey the collection and organise the removal.
The Institute's holdings of Northamptonshire source materials have consequently been greatly strengthened and numerous other sections in British Local History and Modern Britain have benefited from additional source materials, reference works and major monographs. Something over 220 volumes were taken into stock. Duplicates were excluded, and constraints of both shelf space and IHR's established acquisitions policy determined a stringent approach to selection.
Once the books selected for IHR had been removed, representatives of the Northampton Record Society and Northampton Public Libraries were invited to make selections. The remainder was sold to specialist booksellers and the proceeds created a fund which was used to purchase further items for the Institute Library. All the items from the original bequest and purchased through the subsequent fund have an appropriate gift label. It is a testament to Mr Hatley's dedication to the interests of historical research in general that he should have left his splendid library to the benefit of our own.
Note: An obituary of Victor A. Hatley is printed in Northamptonshire Past and Present, viii no. 4 (1992-3), 293-6.
This piece has been adapted from an article written for the IHR's magazine by Donald Munro (former member of IHR library staff and IHR honorary fellow): 'Victor Hatley Bequest', Past and Future, 1994, p.7.