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Samuel Butler Project complete

A special project to open up one of the Old Library’s most important resources is now complete.

Supported by a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Samuel Butler Project was launched in July 2011 with the aim of cataloguing and making accessible the vast collection of original material relating to prolific Victorian writer, artist and photographer Samuel Butler (1835-1902).

The Samuel Butler Collection – which today amounts to more than 100 boxes of manuscript material, drawings, paintings, photographs and personal effects, and about 650 printed books – was first established at St John’s in 1917, when Butler’s friend and biographer Henry Festing Jones decided to donate his personal collection of memorabilia to Butler’s College.

For almost a century the collection remained largely undocumented, and since Festing Jones’s original donation it has grown substantially to include newer editions of works by Butler as well as other valuable items acquired by and gifted to the Library.

Now the entire collection is comprehensively catalogued, with the catalogue of the boxed collections accessible online via Janus (a catalogue of archival holdings within Cambridge) and the printed books catalogued alongside the Library’s main holdings on Newton.

Over the course of the two-year project a number of public exhibitions, talks and workshops inspired by the Butler Collection were held at St John’s, with a total of 2756 people taking part. The Butler Project Associate also worked with local schools and other education partners to devise activities and host visits for groups of children, young people and adult learners.

In addition to the catalogue, a major legacy of the Butler Project is the website which provides access to a variety of online exhibitions, talk recordings and educational resources, as well as a diary documenting the highlights of the project from start to finish.

Find out more at www.joh.cam.ac.uk/samuel-butler-project