Lincoln College

Manuscripts, archives and early photography from the library at Lincoln College, Oxford.

Lincoln College was founded in 1427 by Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, to combat the Lollard heresy. The early history of the College is preserved with remarkable completeness: records of early College business, fifteenth century Library catalogues and manuscripts all still form part of Lincoln’s historic collections, giving us an unparalleled picture of its intellectual and administrative history and of what was considered to be the finest College Library in Oxford. Some of these treasures can be accessed on this site.

In subsequent centuries, the historic collections continued to develop. The Senior Library is now home to over 14,000 early printed books and is particularly strong in Hebraica and Judaica, Civil War pamphlets, works relating to John Wesley and the early history of Methodism, and Restoration drama. The Archive retains original sources relating to the running of the College and its properties, and to its old members, including the cleric John Wesley, Rector Mark Pattison, the poet Edward Thomas, the chemist Nevil Sidgwick, the writer and cartoonist Osbert Lancaster.

The Senior Library is now being catalogued onto SOLO, the Oxford University online public-access catalogue. The Archive catalogue has new descriptions added regularly. The College’s manuscript collections have been housed in the Bodleian since the 1890s; access is available through Bodleian Special Collections. The Lincoln Unlocked study centre aims to facilitate research into these rich collections.

To date, Lincoln has digitized seven items, including:

  • Images from a c. 1320 French prose apocalypse, with 68 miniatures related to the Queen Mary Psalter family of painters in an early 16th-century blind-tooled calf binding over wooden boards.
  • Arnold Fairbairns' magnificent photographic survey of Lincoln College buildings and estates, taken for the 1908 College history by Stephen Warner.
  • The 'Vetus Registrum' and 'Medium Registrum', the core College administrative records from 1472-1640 and 1577-1739, including visitations, elections and resignations of Fellows, and College business. The Medium Registrum includes the original Lincoln College Coat of Arms on the inside cover of the register.