International Archives Day 2016

This year's ICA theme for International Archives Day is 'Archives, Harmony and Friendship'. This is condensed somewhat on Twitter into the theme of 'music' - takes up fewer characters! The hashtags for the day were #iad16 and #archivesrock.


  1. We started with an image from a medieval manuscript - irresistible coloured illustrations of musical instruments from a short musical treatise in MS 173A. Purely symbolic or possibly practical? You decide...
  2. Straight on to the 20th century for a letter with musical notes from Ernest Walker to Cedric Glover during WW1, Walker was a student at Balliol and later earned the first Oxford DMus. He was Balliol's organist, Oxford's Choragus and a much loved leading figure in the Oxford music scene for decades - harmony and friendship embodied.
  3. Back in time and switching from manuscript to printed music, one of the Balliol-specific songs in the college song book produced by John Farmer in 1888. Farmer was brought in by Benjamin Jowett as the college's first professional musician, to play the organ in Hall and encourage collegial feeling through communal music making.
  4. MS 225 is a 15th century collection of texts by and relating to St Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden and her monastery at Wastena (Vadstena); the section detailing the Hours for her feast also provides liturgical music. Mynors dates this book to the early 15th century - near the time of the foundation of England's only medieval Bridgettine monastery, Syon Abbey at Sheen.
  5. Ernest Walker's archive, curated after his death and given to Balliol by his close friend and colleague Margaret Deneke, includes many programmes for Balliol Musical Society concerts, often with EW's annotations recording last-minute changes to the programme and even performers.
  6. I loved seeing and hearing audible tweets through the day! We didn't record - Thursdays are fire alarm test day in the archives... but this was my favourite.
  7. Unlike the carefully preserved Bridgettine MS above, Balliol's MS 396 shows the fate of very many English medieval liturgical manuscripts - broken up for binding waste. The leaves were badly damaged, and stained by glue. The netlike shadows visible throughout this detail are from early 20th century conservation repairs.
  8. DF Tovey and FS Kelly (sorry, correction to below, Balliol 1900. There was an FM Kelly in 1898.) were near contemporaries at Balliol; Tovey, the first Nettleship Scholar, mentored Kelly while they were still both students, and their friendship and correspondence lasted until Kelly's death during WW1. Some of their correspondence is in Tovey's archive at Edinburgh: 
  9. A string of posts on a musical theme should have at least one audible component - what better than music composed upon the death of a friend, something beautiful created during a time of very little harmony indeed.