From its foundation in 1427, Lincoln College has always maintained its archival records in order to safeguard the rights of the institution and the people who studied and worked in it. The College’s early muniment chests housed the deeds (beginning c.1170), charters and accounts in the old treasury in Main Quad; these had been so securely built that a floor had to be removed in order to extract them. One similar chest is still extant in the Library, with a much smaller sixteenth-century cash box housed in the Archive. Exponential expansion of record-keeping in the 19th century prompted purpose-built shelving for the College accounts to be built in the tower of the Main Quad, and a fire-proof muniment room in the 1906 Library building (now the Garden Building). After All Saints’ church was converted into the College Library, the archives could expand further into its tower in the early 1980s.
The College looked again recently at provision for keeping its records, and in 2010 the Archive moved to a purpose-converted space for archival storage in Museum Road. Having reunited the collections from their two towers and two basements in Turl Street, this prompted renewed interest in the informational and research potential of the records as well as making obvious the need for conservation and additional cataloguing.
Lincoln College became a member of the Oxford Conservation Consortium in 2015 to provide treatment and advice for its collections. Work is underway to accession and catalogue the post-1980s College records and private papers, and researchers in person and remotely can access the archives. Reflections on current work will feature in this blog.