In our New College Library Hall display for September 2018, we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches. Inaugurated in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is one of the leaders of the modern ecumenical movement, working towards the goal of Christian unity. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians. New College Library contains nearly a thousand WCC publications, including many unique or rare pamphlets. In the New College Library Archives, we hold the papers of several individuals and organisations who worked with the WCC, including Rev J.H. Oldham, Rev Robert Mackie and Rev. Tom Allaallenn. Continue reading
Visitors to New College Library can’t fail to be impressed by the beautiful stained glass windows which surround the Library Hall. These windows were the gift of Miss Grace Warrack, who worked with the prominent stained glass artist Douglas Strachan to design the windows over a twenty year period. Continue reading
A guest post by Eleanor Rideout, IS Helpdesk Assistant
Banned Books Week, held the week of September 24th in 2017, is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. New College Library holds many texts that have been banned at different points in history, and by different nations and cultures. This week you can see some of these banned books on display in New College Library. Continue reading
The British Association for Jewish Studies Conference to Edinburgh at New College today covers a wide range of topics under its theme of ‘Jews on the Move’ including the theme of Jewish-Christian relations. New College Library’s collections from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provide a window into Jewish-Christian relations, particularly through travel writing, and through development of missions to Jews in the Middle East.
New College Library’s collections are rich in the area of nineteenth century Christian encounters with Jews, usually in the form of mission to Jewish communities. The New College object collections include objects collected from trips to the Holy Land, including the pressed flower album of ‘Bible Plants’ above, phylacteries, a prayer shawl and a scale model of the Temple of Jerusalem. The book and archive collections include some fascinating materials from the Church of Scotland’s development of missions to Jews in the Middle East, including books, archives and objects relating to Rev. Andrew A. Bonar and Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. Bonar and McCheyne were appointed by the Church of Scotland in 1838 as part of a deputation to visit Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East, with a view to future mission activity.
The William Fulton Jackson Collection preserves the collection of man who was an enthusiastic armchair traveller to the Holy Land, with a popular, rather than academic interest in Israel and Palestine. His collection also includes many works on Jewish Studies, including encyclopedias and dictionaries, and demonstrates a keen interest in understanding Jews and Judaism.
New College Library’s Pamphlets Collection of over 35,000 items reflects a deliberate policy from the foundation of New College library in 1843 to collect pamphlets and ephemera on historical, religious and current issues. The collection includes these three pamphlets are examples of the publisher Victor Gollancz’s campaign to draw attention to the plight of the Jews in Europe and to demand that the British Government provide rescue and sanctuary for Jewish victims.
One of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in 1942, Temple was at the forefront of the campaign to draw attention to the plight of the Jews in Europe and to demand that the British Government provide rescue and sanctuary for Jewish victims. His speech urges:
“The Jews are being slaughtered at the rate of tens of thousands a day on many days … we cannot rest as long as there is any sense among us that we are not doing all that might be done.”
Sadly no changes to refugee policy were made by the British Government and after William Temple died in 1944, the impetus for rescuing the Jews did not continue.
Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity
A guest post from Eleanor Rideout, Helpdesk Assistant – New College Library
One of my favourite things about working with historical collections is the unexpected find, like this letter of Henry Cockburn to William Playfair discovered while shelving.
9 Dec 41
My Dear Playfair
No one can rejoice more cordially than I do; & chiefly on your account. It will do you so much honor, – to say nothing of anything else. It is the best recipe for all your ailments. Get it up while I have eyes to see, – & God bless you.
New College is currently deep under scaffolding for cleaning works so a message to the original architect stood out. Henry Cockburn’s name is also familiar – he was a prominent advocate for conservation in Edinburgh and nearby Cockburn Street is named for him.
I had hoped that Cockburn’s excitement was about New College itself, but swiftly realised that the key date of the 1843 Disruption rather prevented this. Checking Playfair’s entry in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects showed that at this time he was working on Donaldson’s Hospital. Getting final design approval seem to have been a difficult process but on 7 December 1841 his plans were finally accepted.
Cockburn for one was impressed: even before work was completed in 1852 he described the building as ‘of itself sufficient to adorn a city’. He lived to 1854, so did indeed get to see the result with his own eyes.
 David Walker, ‘The Donaldson’s Hospital Competition and the Palace of Westminster’, Architectural History, Vol. 27 (1984)
 Henry Cockburn, A letter to the Lord Provost on the best ways of spoiling the beauty of Edinburgh (1849)
A post by guest curator Suzi Higton, School of Divinity
The books of intrepid travel writers whose adventures span from Jerusalem to Cairo feature throughout the collections at New College Library and in particular, those gifted to the library by William Fulton Jackson. A selection from this collection is now on display in New College Library.
Born in 1855, Jackson, recently uncovered as the donor of the W. F. Jackson (WFJ) collection, was the General Manager of the North British Railway Company. His interest in and passion for travel, particularly the Holy Land and Egyptology is reflected both in his numerous books on the subject and detailed photograph collection which is held by the Glasgow University Library Archives.
When selecting books from the WFJ collection to display, the eye is immediately drawn to the books’ beautiful cover designs, maps and illustrations. Rambles in Bible Lands stands out, not just for its intricate artwork but for being aimed at a younger audience. Written by the Reverend Richard Newton, it was published initially whilst he was editor of the American Sunday-School Union, and is based on a series of letters written to Sunday-School World and A Child’s World whilst travelling through Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. Continue reading
A guest post by Chloe Elder, New College Library Special Collections Digitisation intern
From the depths of New College Library’s archives, a selection of class photographs from 1857 to 1930 has been digitised and uploaded to the Open Books website, accessible at openbooks.is.ed.ac.uk. The photographs show the students and staff of New College’s past, each of whom make up a part of the School’s long history. You may recognise, for example, Principal Robert Rainy, who lends his name to the College’s Rainy Hall, sat front and centre of every photo during his time as principal from 1874 to 1900. And behind Rainy and succeeding principals stand rows of students, ascending the same courtyard steps that today welcome over 400 undergraduate and postgraduate students to the School of Divinity.
In May 2013 the Iona Community is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation, and the 1450th anniversary of Columba’s arrival on the island of Iona. The Iona Community was founded in 1938 by the Rev George MacLeod. It is an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church, aiming to come together to work for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.
New College Library currently has a small display of publications about the Iona Community in the Funk Reading Room, including We shall re-build : the work of the Iona Community on mainland and on island / by George MacLeod, and issues from The Coracle, the journal of the Iona Community. Current issues of The Coracle are also available online.
Today, 16 May, is the anniversary of the death of J.H. Oldham.
Joseph Houldsworth Oldham (1874-1969) was a missionary and pioneer of ecumenism. The organising secretary for the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, he also founded the journal International Review of Missions. During the Second World War the meetings of his ‘Moot’ group initiated new thinking about Christian responsibility in modern society.
New College Library holds a substantial collection of J.H. Oldham’s papers, which include correspondence, material relating to the Moot including minutes (1938-1947), lectures, sermons, papers and reports.
You can read more about J.H. Oldham and the Oldham Papers here , or in Faith on the frontier : a life of J.H. Oldham by K.W. Clements, in New College Library at BX6.8.O54 Cle.
Innovative Learning week kicks off at New College Library with a chance to see some of the scientific books in New College Library’s Special Collections and find out where they came from and why they were collected at New College Library. Please drop in to look at the book display in the Funk Reading Room, Monday 18 February 11-12am and ask questions.
Several of the items in this display are drawn from New College Library’s Natural History Collection, a Special Collection numbering about 175 books. This dates from the early days of New College, where ‘Natural Science’ was taught until 1934. The collection covers the mid-nineteenth century controversies over evolution and natural selection, with geology particularly well represented. There is a focus on Scottish natural history and on texts by Scots writers.
Can’t come to the display? See the presentation slides on slideshare.