Finding New College theses on the online catalogue

In response to your questions, here’s some tips for finding New College theses on the University of Edinburgh Library catalogue.

Personally, I find using the Aquabrowser version of the catalogue quite useful for a quick (if dirty) search of what’s available. Type in theses + another search term – e.g. christianity, New Testament etc – into the search box. I searched for eschatology theses. Once you’ve got your list of results make sure that you select ‘New College Library’ from the list of library locations and you should get New College Library results only. One health warning here : you will also get books with the word ‘theses’ in the title and you may get theses from other universities if we have them in the library.

For more precision, you can use the ‘classic’ library catalogue interface. Go straight to the advanced search. Type theses into the search box . Add any additional keywords into the remaining search boxes. Make sure you choose a year of publication option – click one of the radio buttons. For instance you can click the first radio button and choose to search the last 50 years. Now go down to the Library location box and choose New College Library only. 

 Another tip – when you click the search button at the bottom of the form, choose the search button next to where it says ’10 records per page’. Don’t click the word ‘Search’ which is on the tab at the bottom of the page next to Saved Searches. If you do – as I’ve found to my frustration – it thinks you want to start a new search and you end up having to start over again.

New College Theses collection now fully catalogued online

Over 700 New College theses covering the period 1920-1985 have now been catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects.  Some of these theses have second  copies at the main Library, but many others are unique copies only held in New College Library. The completion of this project means that all of New College Library’s theses are now listed on the University of Edinburgh Library’s online catalogue.

The Theses collection demonstrates the richness and diversity of Divinity research in the twentieth century, with topics ranging from  the Buddhist conception of Man in relation to the Christian conception, to the Church in Shetland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – to pick just a few. Current Divinity PhD students now have improved access to the range of previous research done at New College, and New College alumni with PhDs will now be able to find the fruits of their efforts on the online catalogue.

Now that these theses are included in the University of Edinburgh online catalogue, the details of this research will be shared worldwide, not only by researchers looking for University of Edinburgh material but also by researchers using tools such as COPAC, the union catalogue of the UK’s major research libraries.

Summer days at New College Library … and Hymnology collections

Summer has arrived!  The weather forecast says 12 degrees today –  but it feels much warmer. The School of Divinity’s exams are over, and the bustle of last week’s General Assembly has faded. Inside the  library, only a few dedicated researchers are at work – and the library staff, of course. Here’s a summer themed item from New College Library’s Special  Collections.

The child’s book of song and praise, including 34 pieces of music … [1870]. Hymnology Collection, E15/g 6.

  The child’s book of song and praise [1870] is an item from the Hymnology Collections. The core of these collections was the gift in the 1880s of two thousand hymnbooks from James Thin, the founder of the famous Edinburgh bookshop. This collection has been added to by gift, purchase and the re-organisation of other library books of a similar nature to form the collection of over 5000 items  we have today.

Primarily 18th & 19th century printed volumes (some with very nice pictorial publishers bindings),  there are also some older books,  a few scores and some LPs and cassettes. The collection covers sacred songs and poetry as well as hymns, including  many items intended for children, both for Sunday School and home use. This verse from The child’s book of song and praise is just one example:

“Peace be around thee, wherever thou rov’st’ / May life be for thee one summer’s day …”

A project to catalogue the Hymnology Collections online has just begun – just one of the Funk Cataloguing Projects which are opening up the Special Collections here at New College Library.

Medieval manuscript on display at New College Library …

Now on display at New College Library : the Athanasii Opuscula.

This fifteenth century Italian medieval manuscript has a beautiful painted and gold tooled frontispiece and a neat humanistic script. In the lower margins cupids hold a gold hoop.  (Details taken from Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, N.R. Ker, Oxford: Clarendon 1977, p. 532)

New College Library possesses five medieval manuscripts in its manuscripts and archives collection. This item was given to the Library by F. Sargent, probably before 12 Nov 1844.

Treasures of New College Library : the Pamphlets Collection

 “… but that religious pamphlets, especially if they had a shade of allegory in them,  were the very rage of the day.”[1]

In the days before radio, television and instant news pamphlets allowed theological debate and comment to be carried on in cheap, portable and accessible print. New College Library has an exceptional Pamphlets Collection with over 30,000 items. Spanning the development of the Scottish Church from the time of the Reformation to the present century, the sermons, theological debates and reports of Church government and discipline which are contained in this collection are a reflection of the parallel development of Scottish history, and of the establishment and disestablishment of a national Scottish Church.

The Church of Scotland’s lament. Pamphlets Collection, New College Library B.c.4.28/9

  “The Church of Scotland’s lament over the Pride of Her Ministers, with their Top Wiggs, and Long Gravates …” is just one example of the Pamphlets in this collection. Dating from the 1700s, it is a humorous poke at a well to do Church of Scotland minister, with the writer contrasting the minister’s comfortable existence with the struggles of the Covenanters in times past.

As I write the 2012 General Assembly is in full swing, and many Church of Scotland ministers are coming and going – but I haven’t spotted any wigs or ‘Gravates’  (cravats, I think). Nevertheless comment, discussion and criticism of the Church’s activities will be just as much in the news as when this pamphlet was written.

This pamphlet  is newly catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library, which has enabled the cataloguing of over 12,000 pamphlets. 

[1] Hogg, James The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner (London: A.M. Philpot Ltd., 1824)


Early Bibles at New College Library

New College Library has rich and distinct Bible collections. This  Geneva Bible, printed in 1599 with an illustrated frontispiece is just one example.  Called a Geneva Bible because it was produced by a group of Protestant scholars who fled to Geneva during the time of Queen Mary I of England (1553 – 1558), it was innovative in being a  mass-produced Bible which came with a variety of scriptural study guides and aids.

Bible, Book of Common Prayer and Psalter. London, 1599. New College Library B.r.438/1

 This 1599 edition also inclues the new “Junius” version of the Book of Revelation, in which the notes were translated from a new Latin commentary by Fransiscus Junius on Revelation. It was the Bible used by John Knox and Oliver Cromwell, making it hugely important to the study of sixteenth and seventeenth century Britain.

University of Edinburgh Edinburgh Divinity students on programmes such as the Masters degree in  Theology in History have the opportunity to handle rare books like this as part of their studies.

 This Bible is newly catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library, which has enabled the cataloguing of 631 early Bibles.

Scotland’s Methodists

I’ve had two enquiries in the last few weeks about Methodists in Scotland, from individuals researching their family history – it seems to be a hot topic!

Fortunately New College Library  recently received Scotland’s Methodists 1750-2000 by Margaret Batty, as a donation from the author. It’s just been catalogued and is available at BX 8285 Bat. On reference, we also have  Oliver A. Beckerlegge’s United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932, and enquirers able to visit the library can browse the shelves of church history books at LC class BX, and in the old UTS sequence, LX, which contain other titles about Methodism. 

Much useful information on researching Methodist individuals can be found on the website for the Methodist Archives at John Rylands University, Manchester e.g

Archives relating to the Methodist Church in Scotland are also held by the National Archives of Scotland

Treasures of New College Library : the Acta Sanctorum

Down in the depths of New College Library’s Stack III, one of the first rows of shelves that faces you when you enter contains the Acta Sanctorum. This huge Latin work in sixty-eight volumes examines the lives of saints, organised according to each saint’s feast day in the calendar year.  Fifty-three of the volumes were published between 1643 and 1794 by the Bollandist Fathers in Antwerp. Hugh Watt, in his New College Library : A Centenary History (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1946), relates a story that Cardinal Hume had intended to purchase this set of the Acta Sanctorum for himself as a birthday present, but arrived at the bookseller’s only to find that Dr William Cunningham, second Principal of New College, had beaten him to it and purchased the volumes for New College Library.

University of Edinburgh users have trial access to the online Acta Sanctorum Database until 24 May 2012.  The Acta Sanctorum Database contains the entire Acta Sanctorum, including all prefatory material, original texts, critical apparatus and indices. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina reference numbers, essential references for scholars, are also included.

The General Assembly and New College Library

New College is preparing for the  General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2012, which will take place between 19 and 26 May 2012.

Inside the General Assembly

This year’s debates include reports on sectarianism, domestic abuse and Gaza. Researchers wanting to trace the history of these debates, and other challenging topics such as the principles of a just war, and same-sex relationships, can consult the Reports to the General Assembly which are held in New College Library at  sLX 50 B.  Minutes of recent meetings are available from the Church of Scotland website.  The historical records of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly are held at the National Archives of Scotland , including shorthand notes of General Assembly meetings. We expect to welcome many delegates from the Assembly as visitors to the Library, where they are welcome to use our collections of print books and journals.

New College itself will be very busy during this period, with all of the teaching rooms occupied by the Assembly. This includes the David Welsh Reading Room in New College Library which is being used for Assembly purposes. Library users are advised to carry their  UoE staff/student card with them at all times as there may be a security presence at the entrance to New College.