Published by Primary Source Microfilm
"The importance of wills and probate inventories as primary source material has long been recognized. More recently social and economic historians have found that probate inventories provide essential information which cannot be had elsewhere." -- S. A. Raymond, Deakin University
In Archives (Vol. 17, No. 76)
Beginning with the wills, inventories, and related records of the University of Oxford, the majority of the material here falls into the period 1500-1750 with particular emphasis on the property and possessions of college fellows, servants, functionaries, booksellers, printers, bookbinders, students, limners and authors.
This under-utilized material is a goldmine for social historians, historians of education and literary scholars. It provides a full account of the worldly goods of those connected with the University of Oxford from 1436 onward and offers answers to such questions as:
- Which books did Shakespeare's contemporaries own and read?
- What items were considered valuable?
- How did the patterns of consumption and property holding change between the 15th and 18th centuries?
Over 1,000 wills and 900 inventories form the core of this collection.
Literary scholars will be particularly attracted to the lists of books owned by individuals which appear regularly in wills up to about 1580. Combined with the Benefactors' Register, which records the deposit of whole libraries and rare manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, this essential collection provides unique insight into scholarship, taste and literary popularity in the Renaissance period. The wills and inventories of Oxford are of special significance given the link between the university and literature.
Social historians will welcome the insight offered by this collection into the circumstances and values shared by scholars and members of their circle from the early Renaissance onwards.