Oxfordshire Record Society

Past Annual Meetings

Annual General Meeting 2009.


William Whyte's Centenary Talk given at Annual General Meeting 2009

The Oxfordshire Record Society 1919-2009

On 24 January 1919, the Oxford Chronicle carried a report on the first meeting of a new society. Squeezed in between articles on the Bishop of Oxford’s pointed enquiry ‘WILL GERMANY REPENT?’ and Hugh Walpole’s views on the Russian Revolution, there came an account of the inaugural meeting of the Oxfordshire Record Society. Two days earlier, with the historian Ernest Barker in the chair, a gathering of the great and the good and the simply antiquarian had met in New College Library to create a body which would yield an output … so varied that all classes would get something of value and of use. There would be the generally intelligent reader, the technical, historical, and economic student, the teacher of history and geography in schools, including the elementary schools.

This was certainly optimistic – especially as the committee elected to supervise the ORS reflected a far less diverse constituency. In addition to Ernest Barker (a fellow of New College), there was the Honorary Secretary, F. N. Davis (the Rector of Crowell), and the Treasurer, James Rose (a magistrate and Diocesan Registrar). As this suggests, the academic, the clerical, and the legal professions dominated: also on the committee were four other vicars; three Oxford dons; and another JP. Their interests were aptly embodied in the Society’s first publication: a transcript of the records produced by the commissioners on the seizure of church goods in 1552; a project that brought together the legal and the clerical, and which was carried out by Rose Graham, a member of the committee and a fellow of Somerville. Nonetheless, there were already 160 members – and the society is, of course, still going today.

It was in 1918 that the Oxford Archaeological Society first published a pamphlet bemoaning the fact that Hitherto there has been no organised effort to render accessible to the economic historian, the archaeologist, the historian of the parish and the manor, the topographer, the genealogist, and others, the abundant material relating to Oxfordshire which exists in the great national collections in London, and in University, College, and other libraries. more.....