Corpus Christi College Oxford

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The collections at Corpus, and relevant catalogues

For more information on Oxford University's catalogues and finding aids see our pages: SOLO

The collections at Corpus:

Modern (post-1830) collection
Shadworth Hodgson collections
Early printed (pre-1830) collection

The catalogues identified below offer various ways of identifying items from the library's holdings, including special collections (early printed books, manuscripts and archives). Anyone wishing to arrange an appointment to consult the special collections should endeavour to find as much information prior to contacting staff to arrange an appointment (please see the Visiting Readers section for more information).  Library and Archives staff may be able to offer some research assistance, as time and other commitments allow, but are unable to take on detailed work.

A summary of the Library's printed collections can be found in:
Oxford libraries outside the Bodleian: a guide by Paul Morgan, 2nd ed. (1980)

Corpus Collections

Modern (post-1830) collection

Corpus Library has approximately 60,000 modern books; these are catalogued and can be found on SOLO.  Corpus Library also holds c. 100 periodical titles and these are also listed on SOLO. Many of these are available online to Oxford University members and the vast majority are also available as print copies at the Bodleian Libraries.

External readers are welcome to arrange appointments to consult items from the modern collection, provided that the item is not available in the Bodleian Library or a faculty or departmental library to which the reader has access.  Readers are reminded that not all the Bodleian holdings are currently on SOLO; they should consult the catalogues in the Bodleian Reading Room and/or the Bodleian's pre-1920 catalogue, as appropriate, before concluding that an item is not available to them there. Any modern UK publication should be held by the Bodleian Libraries.  In addition, the College's modern pamphlet collection contains a large number of off-prints; the parent item is often more easily available online or in print form.

Corpus Library has a pamphlet collection; many of these are off-prints, and the parent journal or book can often be found in the Bodleian Libraries.

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Shadworth Hodgson Collections

Shadworth Hodgson was a student at Corpus, and an honorary Fellow of the College from 1882 to 1912. He bequeathed a large collection of works to Corpus Library. Some have been interfiled in the modern library sequence, while the early printed books are included with the rest of the College's rare books. The College's Shadworth Hodgson collection of 19th and early 20th century works on philosophy was housed at Oxford University's Philosophy Library between 1992 and 2012. These items, catalogued on SOLO, are now back in the College, but access is currently limited.  Readers wishing to consult these texts should contact the Library to see if access is possible.

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Early printed (pre-1830) collection

Through the generosity of the Founder and other donors, Library has up to 20,000 volumes printed before 1830. These include a fine collection of early editions of the classics, early works on science, a large collection of early Italian works from the bequest of Baron Coleraine, a large number of 16th, 17th and 18th century political, historical and theological tracts, and a good collection of works on medieval Latin, from the library of Sir Roger Mynors.

Some of these volumes are listed on SOLO, but the majority of the titles are not catalogued online.

Online aids for identifying the early printed books held by Corpus include:
ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue). This provides extensive descriptions and holdings information for letterpress materials printed in Great Britain or any of its dependencies in any language-as well as for materials printed in English anywhere else in the world. Coverage is from the beginnings of print to 1800 including all recorded English monographs printed between 1475 and 1700, and the online version is updated daily (Oxford University members should search for ‘ESTC' on SOLO).

ISTC (Incunabula Short Title Catalogue). This database records nearly every item printed from movable type before 1501, but not material printed entirely from woodblocks or engraved plates. 29,777 editions are listed as at January 8th 2008, including some 16th-century items previously assigned incorrectly to the 15th century (Oxford University members should search for ‘ISTC' on SOLO).

Print resources include:
Dennis Rhodes, A catalogue of incunabula in all the libraries of Oxford University outside the Bodleian
Pollard and Redgrave, A short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475-1640
Donald Wing, Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books...1641-1700

For further details, see also:
Oxford libraries outside the Bodleian: a guide by Paul Morgan

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The manuscript collection has been built-up since the foundation of the College through donations, mostly by members of the College. Consequently, it covers a wide range of texts, bindings, art-work and provenances. Most of the rarer examples are known amongst scholars through specialist lists and catalogues.

Descriptive catalogues

Two descriptive catalogues of the College's medieval manuscripts were published in November 2011:

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts of Corpus Christi College, Oxford by N. G. Wilson

Bishop Fox and the college's first President, John Claymond ensured that Corpus Library be well stocked with Greek printed books and manuscripts.  He gave the library more than half the present collection of manuscripts as well as seven in Hebrew.  Erasmus predicted a great future for the library and referred to the well stocked library in a letter to Claymond in 1519.

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of Corpus Christi College, Oxford  by R. M. Thomson

Corpus was intended to be an institution which would introduce Renaissance humanism to Oxford. Its manuscripts range from humanist items from the college's earliest days to groups of texts from the late sixteenth century onwards: John Dee's alchemical manuscripts, other medieval scientific material and many other titles from Old English to Catalan.

A third descriptive catalogue was published in 2015:

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts of Corpus Christi College by P. E. Pormann.

All three volumes are available for purchase from Boydell & Brewer.  Follow the links for more information:   Greek ManuscriptsWestern Manuscripts and Hebrew Manuscripts.

The Corpus manuscripts are also listed in: H.O. Coxe, Catalogus codicum mss. qui in collegiis aulisque oxoniensibus hodie adservantur (1852), v.2, but this should be used with caution (and the new descriptive catalogues used where appropriate).  The College maintains a handlist of later additions to the manuscript collection, which include a few collections of papers of former members of the College.

Some Corpus manuscripts have been digitised as part of the Early Manuscripts at Oxford University project: Images of Corpus manuscripts.  These images are now available via the Digital.Bodleian platform: Corpus images. Others are available through DIAMM, the Digital Image Archives of Medieval Music.

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Corpus Christi College was founded in 1517 by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, for twenty fellows and twenty scholars, principally from the counties and dioceses with which he had associations, e.g. owned land or had been bishop (Bath and Wells, Exeter, Durham, and Winchester). The number of places was increased following university reform in the 1850s.

The archives comprise administrative records of the college, its estates, and papers created by a few members. Records of the college proper begin with deeds of the site of the college 1513, accounts 1521, and decisions of the governing body 1748. Records of college estates include deeds, surveys, court rolls and maps, and date from the thirteenth century onwards. The admissions of fellows and scholars are recorded from 1517 but there was no official record of commoners until c.1850. The archives also holds records of the Junior Common Room, and various student clubs and societies. Before the late 19th century there is very little detailed information about individual members of the college.

For the history of the College Library, see the Library's History page; further information can also be found on the Exhibitions page.

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