Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)JRH
TitlePapers of and relating to James Rendel Harris
Extent41 boxes, 1 outsize item
Datec 13th century-2005
DescriptionThe papers of James Rendel Harris include notebooks and newspaper cuttings relating to his research on folklore and the history of the Pilgrim Fathers' ship, the Mayflower; notebooks containing notes made by Harris about literature and biblical research, including topics such as ‘the problem of evil’ and ‘twins’; and correspondence with friends and family. Regular correspondents include Herbert George Wood, Harris’s secretary Irene Speller Pickard, Eric Wills, and John Major. Also well represented are letters between Harris and other contemporary scholars including E. A. Wallis Budge, James George Frazer, James Hardy Ropes, Lootfy Levonian, Henry J. Cadbury, J. de Zwann, Arent Jan Wensinck, Arthur Bernard Cook, William Charles Braithwaite and W. J. Rutherford. The collection also contains many of Harris’s own copies of his books, essays and lectures, both published and unpublished. These volumes usually contain Rendel Harris’s own bookplates, are often annotated, and occasionally enclose letters or other documents.

Also included in the collection are papers about James Rendel Harris collected by Irene Speller Pickard during the writing of her book, 'Memories of James Rendel Harris'; and papers belonging to John Major, the husband of Harris’s niece, Katherine Ridges, which concern Harris and Major’s shared research on the Egyptian origins of English place names. This was Harris's main research interest in the last years of his life. JRH/4 was catalogued in 2022, and comprises papers relating to Irene Speller Pickard’s life and work relating to James Rendel Harris. These papers were donated by Alison Bush.

Whilst the date range for this collection is wide, the majority of the material dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A small amount of material is dated earlier, including the early medieval manuscript fragments in JRH/1/6 and a 1680 property deed at JRH/1/1/6/44.
ArrangementThe papers were previously divided into three groups (sub-fonds): papers created by Rendel Harris himself, and papers about him collected by Irene Pickard and his nephew John Major. The first group was arranged by record type into five series: press cuttings and research notes; notebooks; articles and lectures; correspondence, and books.

As of 2022, the papers are divided into four sub-fonds, with the previously uncatalogued JRH/4 being added as a separate sub-fonds containing material donated by Alison Bush.

JRH/1/6 was also added as an additional series in 2022. This comprises previously uncatalogued papers including manuscripts, manuscript copies, and related papers collected by James Rendel Harris.

The collection was originally listed using references beginning G Har. These correspond to the new references as follows:

G Har 1 JRH 1/1/1
G Har 2 JRH 1/3/1
G Har 3 JRH 1/3/2
G Har 4 JRH 1/4/5
G Har 5 JRH 3
G Har 6 JRH 1/1/2
G Har 7 JRH 1/4/9
G Har 8 JRH 1/3/3
G Har 9 JRH 1/4/6
G Har 10 JRH 1/4/7
G Har 11 JRH 1/4/4
G Har 12 JRH 1/4/8
G Har 13 JRH 1/4/2
G Har 14 JRH 2
G Har 15 JRH 1/3/4
G Har 16 JRH 1/1/3-4
G Har 17 JRH 1/3/5
G Har 18 JRH 1/4/3
G Har 19 JRH 1/4/1
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryFor full biographical information, see entry for James Rendel Harris (1852-1941) in 'Who Was Who'; FBA, 1927, 'The Daily Discoveries of a Bible Scholar and Manuscript Hunter: A Biography of James Rendel Harris 1852-1941', Alessandro Falcetta (2018) and Alessandro Falcetta, 'James Rendel Harris: A Life on the Quest', Quaker Studies 8 (2004): 208-225.

James Rendel Harris held many academic posts from 1882 including Professor, Johns Hopkins University, 1882-5, Haverford College, 1885-92; lecturer in palaeography, Cambridge, 1893-1903; First Principal and Director of Studies at the Friends' Settlement for Social and Religious Study, Woodbrooke College (the first Selly Oak College), 1903-1918 and Curator of Eastern Manuscripts at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, 1918-1925. He was a prolific publisher of specialist studies and devotional writings. He travelled extensively in the East in search of manuscripts, finding Syriac versions of the Apology of Aristides (1889) and the Odes of Solomon (1909). He married Helen Balkwill of Plymouth in 1880, who died in 1914.
Custodial HistoryThe provenance of the collection is unknown, but it is believed that some papers were brought to Woodbrooke College from Rendel Harris's house, 210 Bristol Road, Birmingham, after the house was bombed during the Second World War. The papers relating to Rendel Harris's Mayflower research (listed as JRH 1/1/3-1/1/6) were given to Woodbrooke by his nephew, Harold Angus, in 1976. Papers belonging to Rendel Harris's nephew, John Major (listed as JRH/3) were given to Woodbrooke by his wife in 1966. The papers were transferred to the Cadbury Research Library, from Woodbrooke, in April 2022
AcquisitionThe provenance of this collection is unknown.
Archival NoteJRH/1/6/1/6 is housed in a non-standard size box due to delicacy. This is included as a box in the collection-level extent field.
Related MaterialPapers of James Rendel Harris and Helen Balkwill Harris (DA21); Papers of Helen Travers Sherlock relating to J. Rendel Harris (MS943)
Associated MaterialsThe archives of Woodbrooke College include papers relating to College administration from 1903 onwards and personal papers of students and staff. Haverford Quaker College holds manuscript collected by Harris and some of his personal paper
Publication NoteSome of these papers were used by Alessandro Falcetta in his 'The Daily Discoveries of a Bible Scholar and Manuscript Hunter: A Biography of James Rendel Harris 1852-1941' (2018) and 'James Rendel Harris: A Life on the Quest', Quaker Studies 8 (2004): 208-225.


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