British Antiquarian and Archaeological Archives at the Ashmolean Museum:

Historic Ashmolean Museum Archives

The Department of Antiquities' archive contains catalogues and papers relating to the early history of the Ashmolean Museum. For many years these documents were housed in the Ashmolean Museum Library, but were returned to the department in the mid-1990s, prior to the Ashmolean libary being incorporated in the Sackler Library ( opened in 2001). Most of the documents were conserved and rehoused 1999-2001, thanks to a grant from the National Manuscripts Preservation Trust. The collection was originally catalogued into a basic manuscript (AMS) and printed (AP) series by Mr R.F. Ovenell, Librarian of the Ashmolean Museum 1947-1972. The full catalogue was compiled by Dr Arthur MacGregor and a team of volunteers from 1997-2006.

Most of the manuscripts and books originally held by the Ashmolean were transferred to the Bodleian Library in 1860. These include manuscripts donated by Elias Ashmole, John Aubrey, William Dugdale, Martin Lister, and Anthony à Wood.

Ashmolean Manuscript Series (AMS)

AMS 1

  • Scrapbook, early 19th century, entitled "Regulations of the Museum", containg various documents relating to the history of the Ashmolean Museum. Volume dismounted and contents inserted in two fasicules, with Platt Catalogue and Rawlinson will housed in seperate envelopes, 2001.

AMS 1/1, Fasicule One

  • AMS 1/1a  Elias Ashmole's 'Statutes Orders and Rules for the Ashmolean Museum in the University of Oxford' [draft and copies], 1683-87 (Part of document available to view online).
  • AMS 1/1b  Letter from Elias Ashmole to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Lloyd, about his proposal to give his rarities to the University of Oxford; and a bill of accounts for the year 1686-7.
  • AMS 1/1c  Statute concerning the use of books and manuscripts in the Museum, 1751.
  • AMS 1/1d  Manuscript

AMS 1/2, Fasicule Two

  • AMS 1/2a  Various letters and notes
  • AMS 1/2b  William Huddesford's deed of appointment as Keeper of the Museum, 1755.
  • AMS 1/2c  Memorandum of medals, 1724.
  • AMS 1/2d  Copy of the will of Sir Samuel Hellier, proved 1784.
  • AMS 1/2e  Papers relating to several benefactions given to the museum, 1724-1758.
  • AMS 1/2f  Accounts for the year 1824.

AMS 1/3

  • The Deed of Trust and will of Richard Rawlinson, London, 1755.

AMS 1/4

  • List of fossils presented to the Ashmolean Museum by Joshua Platt, 1765.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 229-238.

AMS 2

  • Ashmolean Museum "Book of Benefactors", 1683-1766. Large 4to volume of vellum leaves containing a list of benefactors to the museum beginning with Elias Ashmole. Pages ruled in red, coloured coats-of-arms and ornamented initial letters. Includes, loose, an order for payment of £40 to John Tradescant for work done at Oatlands, 1648.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 1-14. (Document available to view online)

AMS 3

  • Volume of benefactions and donations to the Ashmolean Museum, 1757-59 and 1824-29. At the end some notes on objects in the Museum.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 239-250.

AMS 4

  • Guard-book entitled 'Ashmole MS. 1821 - Miscellanea', containing various letters about donations of Egyptological, mineral and natural history specimens to the Museum together with lists, 1718-1766. Included are letters from Richard Graves, Dr. Woodward and William Borlase; manuscript catalogues of the Lethieullier, Pennant and Angerstein collections, 1759.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 239-250.

AMS 5

  • Account books for the Museum recording money received from visitors and expenditure accounts,1684-1804.
  • AMS 5/1 Account book for 1684-1694
  • AMS 5/2 Account book for 1714-1718
  • AMS 5/3 Account book for 1718-1722
  • AMS 5/4 Account book for 1722
  • AMS 5/5 Account book for 1723-1724
  • AMS 5/6 Account book for 1724-1725
  • AMS 5/7 Account book for 1725-1726
  • AMS 5/8 Account book for 1726-1727
  • AMS 5/9 Account book for 1728-1729
  • AMS 5/10 Account book for 1729-1730
  • AMS 5/11 Account book for 1730-1731
  • AMS 5/12 Account book for 1731-1733
  • AMS 5/13 Account book for 1733-1735
  • AMS 5/14 Account book for 1735-1736
  • AMS 5/15 Account book for 1736-1737
  • AMS 5/16 Account book for 1737-1739
  • AMS 5/17 Account book for 1739-1741
  • AMS 5/18 Account book for 1742-1743
  • AMS 5/19 Account book for 1743-1745
  • AMS 5/20 Account book for 1745-1746
  • AMS 5/21 Account book for 1746-1752
  • AMS 5/22 Account book for 1752-1753
  • AMS 5/23 Account book for 1757-1765
  • AMS 5/24 Account book for 1765-1768
  • AMS 5/25 Account book for 1768-1771
  • AMS 5/26 Account book for 1771-1774
  • AMS 5/27 Account book for 1774-1779
  • AMS 5/28 Account book for 1779-1786
  • AMS 5/29 Account book for 1798-1804. Accounts on the blank pages of a volume entitled 'A Catalogue of Ores, &c'.

AMS 6

  • Account book entitled 'Receipts for the income and expenditure of the Ashmolean Museum, 1735-1794'. Contains expenditure accounts and accounts of monies recieved by the Keeper. Audited by the Visitors.

AMS 7-14

  • Catalogues of collections, used by the Visitors in checking the contents of the Museum during their annual Visitations.

AMS 7

  • Liber Procuratoris Seniorus (Book of the Senior Proctor), 1684. Manuscript catalogue of shells.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 125-152.

AMS 8 [1685a]

  • Liber Domini Decani Aedis Christi (Book of the Dean of Christ Church), 1684-90 with later additions. Manuscript catalogue of minerals, gems, curiosities and paintings.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 33-66.

AMS 9

  • Liber Domini Vice-Cancellarii (Book of the Vice-Chancellor), 1685-6 with later additions. Manuscript catalogue of coins and medals.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 67-124.

AMS 10

  • Liber Domini Professoris Regii Medicinae (Book of the Regius Professor of Medicine), c. 1755. Manuscript catalogue of materia medica, marine plants, and gourds. A recension of the 17th-century catalogue (now missing). Incorrectly titled " Liber dni principalis coll Aenei Nasi".
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 159-172.

AMS 11

  • Liber Domini Vice-Cancellarii (The Vice-Chancellor's consolidated catalogue of all collections), 1695-96.
    Published in MacGregor and Hook 2006.

AMS 12

  • Liber Domini Aedis Christi Decani (Book of the Dean of Christ Church), 1756. A recension of the 17th-century AMS 8.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 173-202.

AMS 13

  • Liber Domini Principalis Colegii Aenei Nasi (Book of the Principal of Brasenose), c. 1756. Manuscript catalogue of zoological specimens. A recension of the 17th-century catalogue (now missing).
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 203-216.

AMS 14

  • Liber Professorii Med: Reg:, 1775-1793.

AMS 15

  • Guard-book of letters, entitled 'Ashmolean Museum. Correspondence chiefly Mr. Duncans. 1820-1846'.Volume dismounted and contents inserted in six fascicules, 2001.
    Publication, MacGregor and Heaton 2000.

AMS 16

  • Scrapbook of correspondence, 1836-1888. Volume dismounted and contents inserted in nine fascicules, 2001.
    List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 16/1

  • Catalogue of curiosities from the Figi or Cannibal Islands, 1867. List of objects purchased in 1867. Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 253-4.

AMS 17

  • Scrapbook of correspondence, 1888-1897, also containing notices and notes concerning the museum and some earlier material. Volume dismounted and contents inserted in eight fascicules, 2001.
    List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 18 [1685b]

  • Liber Procuratoris Junioris ( Book of the Junior Proctor), c. 1685. Manuscript catalogue of man-made curiosities, antiquities and ethnographic specimens. Incorrectly titled 'Ashmolean Museum catalogue of ‘artificial works’.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 15-32.

AMS 19

  • Viri Clarissimi Martinus Lister M.D. Conchae et Fossillia quae in Historia Animalium Anglicarum Describuntur, 1683. Manuscript catalogue of shells and fossils donated by Martin Lister.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 153-158.

AMS 20

  • 'Catalogue Borlase', 1758. Manuscript cataloue of mineral specimens donated by William Borlase.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 217-222.

AMS 21

  • 'Account of Ye coins missing before ye Year 1715. In Mr. Whiteside's Hand'. Held by the Heberden Coin Room.

AMS 22

  • 'Description of portraits' in the Ashmolean Museum, about 1890s. In National Portrait Gallery printed form-book. Held by the Department of Western Art.

AMS 23

  • 'Notes from MSS. & other Sources on the early history of the Ashmolean Museum' by Rachael Poole, before 1928.

AMS 24

  • Notes entitled 'Paleyian Museum', with some printed schemes of classification. Probably for Duncan's rearrangment of the Museum, c. 1826.
    Publication, MacGregor and Heaton 2000.

AMS 25

  • 'Anthropological Catalogue', 1886. A list of anthropological objects transferred from the Ashmolean to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1886 (compiled in 1884). Two vellum-bound volumes. Held by the Pitt Rivers Museum.
    Published in MacGregor et al. 2000, 255-414. Transcribed by Alison Petch.

AMS 26

  • Letters sent by William Huddesford, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum 1755-1772, to William Borlase. Negatives and prints of letters now in the Morrab Library, Penzance.

AMS 27

  • Catalogue of the books and pamphlets in the Ashmolean Museum, post 1867.

AMS 28

  • Minutes of the Committee of the Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum and University Galleries nominated to discuss the scheme for reorganising the Institution as proposed by Ashmole's Keeper, November 22nd 1906, 1907. Also a transfer of coin cabinet from the Bodleian Library, 1912-1921; Ruskin School, 1922.

AMS 29

  • Ashmolean Museum’s Keeper’s department cash account, 1895-1910.

AMS 30

  • Oxford Exhibition of Historical Portraits minute book, 1901-1921. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 31

  • Oxford Exhibition of Historical Portraits letterbook, 1904. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 32

  • Oxford Exhibition of Historical Portraits letterbook, 1906. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 33

  • Accounts for the Ashmolean Society, 1831-1848. Contents inserted in eleven fasicules, 2001.

AMS 34

  • Correspondence 1854-1858, mostly natural history. Also documents and accounts relatin gto the purchase of models of ancient architecture, 1822-1824. Correspondence inserted in fasicule and model book in envelope, 2001.

AMS 35

  • Letters and papers relating to the publishing of the Ashmolean Catalogue, 1879-1881.

AMS 36

  • Manuscript catalogue, 1801: Henderson collection of vases and terracottas, nos. 146-288, 288-606, 595-734; Brick stamps, nos. 27-178; 'Things found in old cupboard' 1800; Prehistoric collection, nos. 1-491; notes on Egyptian collection.

AMS 37

  • Minute book of the Loan Exhibition of College Plate, 1928-1929. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 38

  • Letter book of the Loan Exhibition of College Plate, 1928-1929. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 39

  • Visitors book, 11 March 1909 to 29 October 1910.

AMS 40

  • Visitors book, 15 September 1911 to 1 June 1913.

AMS 41

  • Curators of the University Galleries minute book, 1844 to 31 May 1899. Contains loose manuscript copy of the first rules. Transferred to the Department of Western Art, 2001.

AMS 42

  • Ashmolean Museum papers, chiefly Mr. Duncan's receipted bills, 1823-1830. Contents inserted in thirteen fasicules.

AMS 43

  • Accounts, 1855-1858. Inserted in two fasicules.

AMS 44

  • Miscellaneous notes, 39 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 45

  • Miscellaneous notes, 13 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 46

  • Miscellaneous correspondence and notices, 41 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 47

  • Miscellaneous correspondence and notices, 46 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 48

  • Miscellaneous correspondence and notices, 31 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 49

  • Miscellaneous correspondence and notices, 30 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 50

  • Miscellaneous correspondence and notices, 48 in number. List of contents available in the Department of Antiquities.

AMS 51

  • A catalogue of the brasses in the collection of the Oxford architectural and historical society, 1898.

Ashmolean Printed series (AP)

AP 1

  • Musaeum Tradescantianum: or, a collection of rarities preserved at south-Lambeth neer London. John Tradescant, 1765.

AP 2

  • Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Viri Clarissimi Antonii à Wood (a catalogue of the manuscript collections of Antony à Wood). Deposited in the Ashmolean Museum ... by William Huddesford, Keeper. Oxford, Clarendon Press: 1761. 3 copies.

AP 3

  • Thomas Hearne's Life of Antony à Wood and catalogue of his manuscript collection. Extract from Gutch's edition, 1792. Presentation copy to the Museum from the editor.

AP 4

AP 5

  • Box, labelled "Ashmolean Museum Catalogues", [2 volumes] including parts of Duncan's Catalogue and a list of donations to the Antiquarian and Ethnological collections in the Ashmolean Museum ... 1836-1868. 1870.

AP 6

  • An index to the manuscript collections of Sir William Dugdale, Knight; being part II of the Appendix to his Life, Diary and Correspondance, by William Hamper, Esq., F.S.A. 1826. Presentation copy to the Museum from the author. (Copy available on-line from the Internet Archive.)

AP 7

AP 8

AP 9

  • 'Tradescant's Testament und Ashmole's Museum zu Oxford'. Extract from Mélanges Physiques et Chimiques tirés du Bulletin Physico-Mathématique. L'Academie Impérial des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg. Vol. I, Part 4, 336-354. Dr. J. Hamel, 1852.

AP 10

  • Story of Old Meopham. C.H. Golding-Bird. London, 1918.

AP 11

  • Poole, Rachael. 'An Outline of the History of the Critz family of Painters'. Walpole Society (1913), 45-68.

AP12

  • Memoirs of the Life of that Learned Antiquary, Elias Ashmole, Drawn up by Himself by Way of Diary, with an Appendix of original Letters (London, Charles Burman, 1717). Found with Lilly's History of his Life and Times, 2nd edition, 1717. Presentation copy to the Museum by Dr. Kidd.

AP 13

AP 14

  • Humphreys, A.L. 'Elias Ashmole'. The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Archaeological Journal, 28 (1924).

AP 15

  • Tuckett, J.E.S., 'Dr Richard Rawlinson and the Masonic Entrie in Elias Ashmole’s Diary'. Extract from Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.

AP 16

  • 'Memoirs of the Life of Edward Llwyd...'. Transcribed from a manuscript in the Ashmolean Museum ... to which are added notes, historical and illustrative.

AP17

  • Lhwyd, Edward, Lithophylacii Britannici Ichnographia sive Lapidum aliorumque Fossilium Britannicorum (London, 1699). Presentation copy to the Museum from Martin Lister. Binding has label "Liber : Dni : Professoris Regii : in Medicina Parsi". (Copy available on-line from Google Play.)

AP18

  • Lluyd, Edward. Archaeologia Britannica, giving some account additional to what has been hitherto publish'd, of the languages, histories and customs of the original inhabitants of Great Britain: : from collections and observations in travels through Wales, Cornwal, Bas-Bretagne, Ireland and Scotland (Oxford, 1707). (Copy available on-line from the Internet Archive.)

AP 19

  • Wood, S., 'Martin Lister, Zoologist and Physician'. Annals of Medical History, January 1929, 87-104.

AP 20

AP 21

  • Quarrell, W.H. and Quarrell, W.J.C. (eds.), Oxford in 1710 from the Travels of Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (Oxford 1928). English translation of original German text, von Uffenbach's three volume Merckwürdige Reisen, 1753-4.

AP 22

  • Ashbee, H.S., Marat en Angleterre.

AP 23

  • Scrapbook of press-cuttings relating to the Museum, 1881-1894.

AP 24

  • Box of various manuscripts and printed documents, entitled 'M.S. Catalogues and Rescripts - Historical Notes on Collections:. Includes some material (photos etc) of the Tradescant house at Lambeth. Unavailable at present.

AP 25

  • Box of various manuscripts and printed documents, entitled 'The Tradescants and Elias Ashmole'. Includes genealogical notes on the Tradescants and various pamphlets on Ashmole. Unavailable at present.

AP 26

  • Box of various manuscripts and printed documents, entitled 'Ashmolean Data'. Includes further notes by R. Poole on the history of the Museum.

AP 27

AP 28

  • Annual Report of the Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, 1888.

AP 29

  • Scrapbook, 1881-1897.

AP 30

AP 31

  • 'Memoirs of Edward Lluyd'. Memoirs of the lifes and works of Edward Llwyd. (1660-1709). Notes at back containing various letters concerning him. Transcribed from a manuscript and presented to the museum in 1924

AP 32

AP 33

  • Duncan, John Shute, Introduction to the catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum, c. 1826.

AP 34

AP 35

AP 36

Further Information

MacGregor, A. with Mendonça, M. and White, J., Manuscript Catalogues of the Early Museum Collections 1683-1886, Part 1 (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and British Archaeological Reports International Series, 2000).

MacGregor, A and Hook. M., Manuscript Catalogues of the Early Museum Collections - the Vice-Chancellor's Consolidated Catalogue 1695 (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and British Archaeological Reports International Series, 2006).

MacGregor, A. and Heaton, A. Re-inventing the Ashmolean. Natural history and natural theology at Oxford in the 1820s to 1850s. Archives of Natural History, 27 (2000), 369-406.

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Alison Roberts
October 2012