Category Archives: Digitisation

Rediscovered Durer works on display at The Rylands



A selection of some 2,500 recently uncovered works including original 16th Century works and those of  German artist Albrecht Durer will soon be on display at the Rylands. See the Manchester evening news article here.

Manutius in Manchester

For the last few years, The John Rylands Library  have been recataloguing our Aldine collection (books printed by Aldus Manutius and his heirs), which now numbers about 2000 volumes. By the end of the project all books will have detailed descriptions on the library catalogue, following internationally recognised standards for rare books cataloguing, including information on editors, translators, inscriptions, annotations, previous owners, bindings and reference to the standard bibliographies. We will be holding an exhibition – Merchants of Print: From Venice to Manchester, from February to June 2015 to celebrate the life and work of Aldus Manutius and five hundred years of collecting his books.

Rylands Castiglione, annotated title page

Rylands Castiglione, annotated title page

We are also very excited to be a part of the ‘Books and Beasts’ project which will take material bibliography in an exciting new and profound direction – into the identification of the variety of animal skins used in the production of medieval and renaissance books, not only in their bindings, but also in their text blocks. Our current project ‘Venetian Vellum?’ is focused specifically on Venice and in particular Aldine editions printed on parchment of which there are a significant number in the John Rylands Library.

We have recently started a new blog which will highlight special and interesting copies in our collections as well as provide updates and information on the exhibition and our Venetian Vellum project.

You can also join us on facebook and twitter.


The Project Team

Caroline Checkley-Scott

Stephen Milner

Julianne Simpson

Simone Testa

Sarah Todd

Yggdrasill Online

Recently digitsed and now available online are twenty-two manuscript copies of the Ashburne Hall Magazine, Yggdrasill, c.1901-1909. These beautiful magazines are a wonderful snapshot of life in the contemporaneous Hall and are undoubtedly a rich source of research material for scholars of many disciplines.  The post that follows has kindly been supplied by Sheila Griffiths, Honorary Secretary of the Ashburne Association.


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Amongst the documentary archive of Ashburne Hall, University of Manchester, is a unique collection of hand written magazines, giving us a glimpse into the lives of the first students of Hall.

In 1899, a public meeting was held in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Manchester Town Hall. The aim was to raise funds for the establishment of a Hall of Residence for women. Professor Alexander, philosopher and supporter of higher education for women, had often heard complaints from Head Mistresses that there was a lack of pleasant accommodation for their girls in Manchester; they often advised them to apply to another university.

The public meeting raised £3,000 and Robert Derbyshire, lawyer in the city, generously purchased Ashburne House next to his own in Victoria Park. Other wealthy benefactors opened their attics, to provide furniture for the “Women’s College”. However, fearing that the women would be kept separate because of male opposition, it was decided it should be known as a Hall of Residence. Women were to be included in the university and wherever possible, taught side by side with men.

As late as 1905, the Manchester University Magazine comments that Ashburne House had originally been “only a venture”, but with growing numbers of women students, there was no question as to its viability Manchester was also a centre of the women’s movement, with many eminent professors and C.P.Scott of the Manchester Guardian advocating votes for women.The city was a vibrant focus for politics, science and the arts.

Into this academic hot house came the first dozen Ashburnians, desperate to show that they were both worthy and capable. New education grants for teaching made it possible for girls from modest backgrounds to read for a degree. Ashburne House was no finishing school for rich young ladies: it was for women who had to earn a living.

The hand drawn and painted magazines ceased in 1909, when the hope of the first editor that one day they would be printed was realized. The manuscript editions have great charm and freshness. Here was a lively community of young women ready for the fun of tennis parties, picnics and bicycling expeditions, yet with a deep sense of purpose, an awareness of how much there was to accomplish in the world.

In 1908, preparations were made to move to a larger site, The Oaks in Fallowfield, generously donated by the Behrens family. This became Ashburne Hall, the home now of over six hundred students

Like the Yggdrasill, the Tree of Knowledge, with its branches spreading wide, we now have Ashburnians all over the world, both men and women. Our annual magazine continues with the same name today.

List of Individual Magazines available:

Yggdrasill, Autumn 1901

Yggdrasill, Lent 1902Yggdrasill, Summer 1902Yggdrasill, Christmas 1902

Yggdrasill, Spring 1903Yggdrasill, Summer 1903Yggdrasill, Autumn 1903

Yggdrasill, Lent 1904Yggdrasill, Summer 1904Yggdrasill, Christmas 1904

Yggdrasill, Lent 1905; Yggdrasill, Christmas 1905

Yggdrasill, Lent 1906Yggdrasill, Summer 1906Yggdrasill, Christmas 1906

Yggdrasill, Lent 1907Yggdrasill, Summer 1907a; Yggdrasill, Summer 1907b

Yggdrasill, Lent 1908Yggdrasill, Easter 1908

Yggdrasill, Lent 1909Yggdrasill, c.1909




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RTI Cuneiform tablets now online

Sumerian tablet P108057. From the Umma Period, 2100-2000 BC.

Sumerian tablet P108057. From the Umma Period, 2100-2000 BC.

Rylands Cuneiform tablets, digitised using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) are now available online. We posted an interesting piece a while back about the digitisation process here. The library worked in collaboration with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative based at UCLA, and Dr. Klaus Wagensonner of The University of Oxford. See the amazing images and transcriptions here.

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The Night of 4th August 1789: Images

Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley is  a historian specialising in French and Haitian Revolutionary Studies. We recently photographed some fantastic French broadsides from the Rylands collections for his blog:

The Night of 4th August 1789: Images.


World War I Hospital Patients’ Souvenir Album Digitised

Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog:

Like many country houses, Dunham Massey Hall near Altrincham in Cheshire was converted into a military hospital during the First World War, and offered sanctuary to hundreds of soldiers injured in the conflict.

We have recently digitised a remarkable and poignant souvenir album, compiled by the patients, who were apparently encouraged to draw and write as part of their recuperation. There are also photographs of many of the patients, and the nurses. Lady Jane Grey (1899-1991), sister of the 10th earl of Stamford, was a nurse at the hospital, and judging by the number of dedications to her in the album, she was a firm favourite with the soldiers. You can view the entire album at

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To mark the centenary of the First World War, the National Trust has meticulously recreated the military hospital at Dunham Massey, transforming normally grandiose rooms into wards and even an operating theatre, using much…

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Sketches by Wenceslaus Hollar

We are pleased to make available in its entirety, Rylands English MS 883, a book of drawings by the esteemed artist and master etcher Wenceslaus Hollar, 1607-1677.  Born in Prague, Hollar’s craft took him to various parts of Europe and he spent many years in England in the employ of Thomas Howard, the 21st Earl of Arundel.  Hollar was a prolific worker and there are collections of his work in both the British Museum and in the Royal Collection at Windsor.  The University of Toronto also has a significant online collection of prints.

The collection of sketches is fascinating; the pieces are beautifully executed original drawings with the exception of one etching, a portrait of J. Banfi Huniades.  The drawings (which do not appear in any particular order) are of various places in Europe, including London, Prague, Amsterdam and Cologne.  There are some sketches on loose scraps of paper and a good number that have been stuck onto the leaves of the book.  The digital bookreader object of English MS 883 is hosted in our Rylands Collection along with various leaves we already had digitised.

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Portrait of A Living Archive closing


There’s just a week to go until Gwen and Jamie will be taking their Portrait of A Living Archive exhibition down. There’s still time to come and see it in situ! All the images will then be deposited along will all other project work into the Library archives. And to greet the New Year, Graham Moss of Incline Press has produced a beautiful limited run of  hand pressed copies of Vona Groarke’s poem ‘Accession 9, Box 4′ which was specially written for the project. You can see and buy the edition from Incline here.

Seasons Greetings


Seasons greetings from everyone at CHICC! It’s been a wonderful 2013, we’ve worked with some amazing people in some amazing places, on some incredible items! To get you in the spirit of the season, here is Jamie’s TEDx talk from Oldham.

Graham Moss of Incline Press on Portrait of a Living Archvie


Graham and Skipper

We are pleased to share a great blog post from one of the sitters of the Portrait of a Living Archive Exhibition:

Graham Moss of Incline Press on Portrait of a Living Archvie

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