Five centuries of everyday life revealed

31 January 2007

John Johnson Dr FaustusPart of a unique collection in the Bodleian Library, which throws valuable light on everyday life between 1508 and 1939, is to be made more widely available thanks to a grant from the Joint Information Support Council (JISC).

The John Johnson Collection, which consists of 1.5 million items of ephemera (short-lived and disposable items such as advertising material and entertainment programmes), is generally considered to be the most significant collection of its kind in the UK and one of the most important in the world. The grant will enable a significant part of its material 65,000 items, amounting to 150,000 images to be turned into a high-quality digital format so that scholars will be able to study it via the internet.

Five categories will be digitized: nineteenth-century entertainment; the book trade; crime, murders and executions; advertising; and noteheadings and popular prints. The images will be available free to all teachers and researchers working in the UKs higher education and further education sectors, and to the general public via the 32,000 supported terminals in the UKs 4,200 public libraries.

The Bodleian is one of sixteen projects that have received an award from JISC, which provides leadership in the innovative use of information and communications technology to support education and research. JISC has made £12 million available for supporting the digitization of material which will be of importance to scholars.

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