Private Books for Educational Use – the Formation of the Northern Congregational College Library

Tuesday 26 February 5.15-6.45pm

Demonstration of a new digital resource charting how early nonconformist readers in Lancashire and Yorkshire interacted with their books.

Speakers: Dr Ben Bankhurst (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Rachel Eckersley (Queen Mary, University of London), Ed Potten (Cambridge University Library)

R217058.1, Northern Congregational College Collection
R217058.1, Northern Congregational College Collection

The Northern Congregational College Project will make available in digital form the Catalogue of the Library of the Lancashire Independent College, Manchester (1885) and details of the 2,400 surviving books from the library of the Northern Congregational College, formed in 1958 from the amalgamation of two major Congregational colleges founded in the nineteenth century, Lancashire Independent College and Yorkshire United Independent College. In 1984 the Northern Congregational College became Northern College (United Reformed and Congregational). Most such libraries were founded on private collections and supplemented over generations through bequest and donation. Selected books were acquired in 1975/6 by the The John Rylands Library. These books, dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, are unusually rich in provenance and evidence of use. Perhaps most interesting are the marks of ownership and use of the everyday reader – men and women who owned only a handful of books and whose annotations are the only evidence of their interaction with them.

The details, including high-resolution images of bookplates, inscriptions and annotations, will be published on Dissenting Academies Online: Virtual Library System , a union catalogue which represents the holdings and loans of selected Baptist, Congregational, and Presbyterian/Unitarian academies in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and which forms part of the ongoing Dissenting Academies Project . The Virtual Library System will be introduced by Professor Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary, University of London) and Dr David Wykes (Dr Williams’s Library, London).

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