The BSR’s archive collections are multi-disciplinary in nature, and thus of great interest to researchers across numerous disciplines.
Within a total collection amounting to nearly 350 linear meters, the Photographic Archive, the Administrative Archive and the Archaeological Archive are the most significant BSR collections. The adoption and implementation of an open-source archival software system, ArchivesSpace, has greatly improved the management of the BSR archival resources, creating a mechanism for the retrieval of information about the provenance, description and location of archival materials.
In the management of our archives, the BSR is also facing up to the challenge posed by the volatility and authenticity of digital resources and electronic records, considering both storage capacity as well as the long-term preservation (and obsolescence) of software and formats.
The Photographic Archive consists of material relating to the activities carried out by former BSR Directors, Assistant Directors, and individuals who generously donated their own photographic collections to enrich and enhance the institution’s resources for academic research.
It covers many subjects including Italian and North African archaeology and topography, ancient Greek and Roman art, in particular sculpture, and European medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. Its extent totals nearly 100,000 items stored in 19 cupboards, including calotypes, glass negatives, nitrate and acetate negatives, early photographic prints, 35 mm film, postcards, slides and lantern slides.
The uniqueness of the BSR photographic holdings lies not only in the importance of the many and various collections which found their home in Rome throughout the years, but also in the nodes and relationships arising from their ownership and provenance. From the second half of the 19th Century with collections of master photographers and pioneering publishers - James Graham Collection (c. 1855), Robert MacPherson Collection (1854-1868), John-Henry Parker Collection (1865–79) - to the years marking the beginning of amateurial experiences - Peter Paul Mackey Collection (1890-1910), Thomas Ashby Collection (1890-1925), Dora & Agnes Bulwer Collection (1890-c.1930?), John William Cruickshank Collection (1892-1918), Robert Gardner Collection (1912-13).
Lantern slides in bubble wrap, photo by S. Giordano
Photo collections on display in the Main Library Reading Room, photo by A. Palmieri
Lantern slide from the Roman Society Image Collection, photo by S. Giordano
Glass negatives from the John Marshall photo collection, photo by A. Giovenco
The Administrative Archive consists of records documenting the institution’s activities since its foundation in 1901, including awardees applications and documents arranged by discipline and award (Visual Art, Humanities, Architecture); institutional charters, minutes and supporting papers of Council, Faculties and other committees, Minute books, circulars, Letter books; administrative records (Building & Premises, Communications, Financial & Personnel, Directors’ correspondence and staff correspondence; memberships and donor records. It also includes material relating to the Fine Arts and Humanities Programmes as well as exhibition records such as administrative information, press cuttings, talks and lectures. The extent of the Administrative Archive measures over 100 linear meters and the material is housed in various locations within the Building.
Some of the most significant records of the Administrative Archive are to be found in the John Brian Ward-Perkins section, which is also a testament to a shift in the arrangement of BSR records occurred during his tenure (1945-1974).
The John Marshall’s index cards, photo by S. Giordano
Thomas Ashby’s salvacondotto, 1915
Tom Monnington’s application form (Rome Scholar in Mural painting, 1920-3)
Bust portrait of Winifred Knights by Alfred Hardiman, photo from the Fine Arts Collection
The Archaeological Archive consists of material relating to excavations, archaeological surveys, projects and activities either carried out or participated in by the BSR Archaeology Department over the years since post-WW2. It also includes personal archives formed at and acquired by the BSR, such as the John-Bryan Ward-Perkins papers, the Sheila Gibson collection and the G.D. Barri Jones papers.
It totals over 60 linear meters of textual records, site notebooks, photographic prints, slides and negatives, plans and drawings. An important set of records from the Archaeological Archive is represented by the South Etruria Survey (SES), a project carried out in the mid-1950s and mid-1970s by John Ward-Perkins to document the changing landscape of the countryside north of Rome. The SES includes Survey cards and records, alongside 7300 images to be found in the Photographic Archive.
Photograph from the Ward-Perkins photo collection, Libya Series
Panoramic view of Calcata in the South Etruria region, Ward-Perkins photo collection
The Archives are open for consultation to BSR Residents and Library Members by appointment. Access to most of the photographic collections is provided online through the Digital Collections Website. Some of the Administrative and Archaeological records are available internally through a dedicated platform.
For an insight into the Fine Arts Archive from an historical point of view, please visit the Fine Arts Archive webpage.
For an appointment, please contact the Archivist Alessandra Giovenco.