Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Festival for Archivists

'Saint Catherine. Line engraving by F. Knolle after Domenichino.' by F. Knolle. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
Today is the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria, a patroness of archivists.  Holy and scholarly St. Catherine!  Respectress of fonds, guardian of original order, protectrix of strong-rooms, intercede for us for us poor 'devotees of Truth' in our work deep down at the coal-face of ignorance, our own and mankind's in general, and our humble fortification of our memory against the attrition of time, that we may be preserved from nineteenth-century paper, twentieth-century handwriting, yellowed sellotape, rusted staples, mould, dust, soot, dust and soot indistinguishable from each other, 'original chaos', 'disasters in the archives', spillages of ink in the reading-rooms, and above all our own folly in its sobering magnitude.  May the words 'Miscellaneous' or 'Other Items' or indeed '?' never pass through our fingers!  Keepers of records, compilers of cataloguers, arrangers and describers of archives and manuscripts, let us all with one voice toast our patroness.


  1. Quite lovely, Dominic. The influence of Betjeman always hovers over your writing!


Please add your thoughts! All civil comments are warmly welcomed.