Archive News

Our Archivist, Dr Ruth Frendo, writes:- It’s fair to say that most of the records in our Archive relate to men. Given that, throughout most of history, women have had less access to education than men, the fact that, for centuries, men dominated the activities of producing, selling and acquiring books is hardly surprising. However, it’s important to remember that archives only ever hold partial truths: to some extent, archival research is always an act of joining the dots between fragments of evidence. 

Some of the latest research into the complexity of women’s historical relationship with the printed word is being presented at a forthcoming one-day conference at the University of London’s Institute of English Studies. Women and the Book (26 October 2018, 9.30am - 6.45pm at Senate House) will explore aspects of women’s participation in reading, writing, commissioning and collecting books, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century. To find out more, and to book a place, visit:

To mark Black History Month Dr Ruth Frendo our Archivist researched and wrote up a fascinating piece on The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.  In fact it was so interesting that we felt it deserved star billing and so has been made a feature.  You can find it by clicking here.  Please do click through to read it.

The Company is a member of this group which is a network for archivists working in the City of London, and it also welcomes anyone with a professional or personal interest in the City’s archives.  It was set up in 1986 by our Honorary Archivist Emeritus, Robin Myers MBE and earlier in the Summer Ruth Frendo the  current Archivist attended one of the sessions which was held held at the Museum of the Order of St. John (photo above).  Her report is in the Features section of the website here.  The City Archivists Group's website can be seen here.  Do explore both links.

The Archive held a workshop immediately before the Archive event yesterday. Prof Ian Gadd, Dr Giles Bergel and the Stationers' Archivist, Dr Ruth Frendo, led c10 academics and researchers in a three hour session looking at how to use the Stationers' Archive. This was a first for the Company and the Archive and we hope that it will lead to more research being undertaken in this valuable collection which, bit by bit, reveals insights into the history of the book and of the Company.

The Stationers’ Company is one of the most important cultural institutions in British history. From its foundation from 1403, it has been the primary membership organisation for the English book trade. By the seventeenth century, practically every important printer, publisher, and bookseller in England was a member, and while the growth of the provincial book trade from the early eighteenth century onwards diminished its oversight of the national trade it nonetheless continued to include many key members of the trade amongst its ranks.

Stationers’ Hall contains archives for the Company dating back to the mid-sixteenth century: not only the famous Stationers’ Register into which members recorded their publishing rights but also membership records, financial accounts, minutes of meetings, property holdings, articles of governance, and so on. It is only one of several dozen London livery companies but, thanks to the scholarly interest in the books they printed, published, and sold, we know more about its members, their activities, and their associated artefacts than any other trade or craft in Britain. 

Taking place in the Company’s new Tokefield archive and research centre, this workshop will introduce you to the diversity and range of the Company’s records. It will explain the structure of the Company, what records it kept, and how to interpret the documents. Guidance will be given on using relevant reference works, catalogues, and other resources (including the latest digital tools), and you will be encouraged to come with your own research questions. Special attention will be given to the Stationers’ Register and the membership records. You will also be given three weeks of access to Adam Matthew’s Literary Print Culture which includes digitised scans of the vast majority of the Company’s records.

The workshop will be led by Ruth Frendo, the Company’s Archivist and two leading scholars of the Company and the book trade, Dr Giles Bergel and Professor Ian Gadd.

The workshop is aimed at graduate students, researchers, archivists, scholars and anyone else interested in learning more about the history of the Company, its members and their activities. There will be bursaries covering attendance and travel expenses for graduate students, generously provided by the Bibliographical Society. 

Refreshments will be provided.

The workshop will be followed by the Company’s annual ‘Archive Evening’, running from 6pm to 8pm and including a wine reception and buffet. Participants in the workshop can attend the evening at a discounted rate. More information about the Archive Evening is available at


To apply, please send a brief biography along with a 200-word statement of how the workshop will be of benefit to you to Ruth Frendo at

If you are a graduate student, please provide your institution, degree and subject you are enrolled on, and if you would like to be considered for a bursary.

Applications should be received by Friday 13 April.


£40 for workshop and evening; £20 just for workshop

From L-R in the photo – Dr Giles Bergel, Professor Ian Gadd and Ruth Frendo

We’re delighted to announce that the Adam Matthew digital resource, Literary Print Culture: The Stationers' Company Archive, can now be accessed remotely by all members of the Stationers’ Company via the Members’ section of our website.

It’s very straightforward: log in as usual, and you’ll see that the final entry on the left-hand sidebar is ‘Access to Digitised Archive’. Click on this and you’ll be linked through to a document containing the Terms and Conditions of Access to the resource. Please do read through these, at least on your first visit, and make sure you understand them! If you’re happy to accept, click on the link at the bottom of the page, and you will be redirected to the Adam Matthew website.

Once there, if you are using the resource from the comfort of your own home (or any other favourite haunt) you will then need to log in with the details provided by Adam Matthew exclusively for members of the Stationers’ Company. You can view the log in details here.

And that’s it! The historical documents of the Stationers’ Company’s Archive are now at your fingertips.

You can navigate through the Introduction to the Resource, read essays about the archive and the history of the Stationers, or browse documents and images from the collection. The high-quality digitisation allows you to zoom in on texts, and the resource as a whole offers a fantastic entry point to the collections.

You may find the Search Directories section of the resource useful to help you locate documents. This uses some information derived from the archive catalogue, such as the names of record series, and some information, such as keywords and themes, which was created and added by the Adam Matthew Editorial Team. Free text searching of documents is available, and there is a search-bar on every page. This is a very convenient way to start your research. Please bear in mind, though, that free text searching only works on typed and printed documents – so occurrences of a name or term which appear in letters and manuscripts will not be picked up, unless those documents have been transcribed into print, or the relevant search terms are used in the catalogue description.

If you have any questions about any aspect of the resource, from the Terms and Conditions and what they mean to you, to how best to conduct a search, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at

Happy browsing!

Members will be pleased to know that they now have free access to the Adam Matthew Literary Print Culture: The Stationers' Company Archive 1554-2007 through the Members Only area on this site.  Terms and Conditions apply and access will only be possible once those have been accepted.  Members should log in and then click here to proceed. 

This blog post was written by Ruth Frendo, our Archivist. It is one of a series of blog posts on History Collections on the theme of Magic and the Supernatural, as part of History Day 2017.

What would Halloween be without witches? Easiest costume to cobble together, subject of some of the best horror films (from ‘Black Sunday’ and ‘Suspiria’ right through to last year’s brilliant ‘The Witch’), and those hats are the perfect shape to cut out of chocolate or cookie dough.

However, behind the broomsticks and black cats lies a more sinister story,

Members will be interested in the video which Adam Mathew created about their exercise to digitise the Company's archive. It can be viewed here.


A conservator’s job is to care for cultural heritage so that it is accessible now and in the future. The conservator must be respectful and humble when treating and caring for objects and yet have the confidence to be able to make informed decisions and judgements. I am a newly qualified paper conservator and am currently doing contract work for the National Conservation Service. I am sent for short periods of time to assist with projects at institutions that do not have conservators. The Stationers’ Archive are currently moving their collection from a safe store at Stationers’ Hall to an offsite storage space at Upper Heyford. My job was to assist the archivist, Ruth Frendo, in ensuring all objects were safely packed for the move.

The Worshipful Company
of Stationers
and Newspaper Makers

Stationers' Hall
Ave Maria Lane
London EC4M 7DD

Telephone: 020 7248 2934
Fax: 020 7489 1975