Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life

08 March 2016

British Library Volunteer Programme, Department of Western Heritage, 2016

Thanks to the generosity of the American Trust for the British Library and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation the British Library is able to offer a five-month volunteership for an American doctoral student to participate in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section of the Western Heritage Department.

Egerton 737 f 1 c11345-08
Miniature of Aristotle teaching Alexander the Great, from Nicolas Oresme (translator), Les Ethiques d'Aristote, Low Countries (Bruges), c. 1460 - c. 1480, Egerton MS 737, f. 1r

The student will be involved in all aspects of the work of the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section, including responding to inquires, providing talks for students and patrons, selecting and presenting manuscripts for display in our exhibition gallery, and cataloguing, and will thereby gain insight into various curatorial duties and aspects of collection care.  During the volunteership at the Library, the student will enjoy privileged access to printed and manuscript research material and will work alongside specialists with wide-ranging and varied expertise.  The student’s primary focus would be on supplementing the online Digitised Manuscripts website by researching and adding descriptions of medieval manuscripts.  The position is designed to provide opportunity for the student to develop research skills and expertise in medieval and Renaissance art and history, and presenting manuscripts to a range of audiences.  


The programme is only open to US citizens who are engaged actively in research towards, or have recently completed a PhD in a subject area relevant to the study of pre-1600 illuminated manuscripts. 


The term of the placement is for a period of five months.  The placement is voluntary and therefore unpaid.  However, the successful applicant will be reimbursed in respect of actual expenses in the performance of his or her duties, such as direct travel expenses to London and commuting expenses to the British Library, accommodation, and immediate living expenses such as food (but not clothing), subject to a maximum of £8,000 in total.  The volunteer will be responsible for making his or her own travel and accommodation arrangements.

If the applicant does not hold the right to work in the United Kingdom, the Library will sponsor the volunteer for a visa using the UK Border Agency’s points-based system under Tier 5 Charity Workers.  The successful candidate will be required to submit the relevant application form to the local processing centre.  The processing fee will be reimbursed by the Library.  No placement may commence until the appropriate right to work documents have been obtained and verified.

How to apply

Please send an application letter setting out your qualifications and the months you would be able to be in London, a résumé, and two reference letters to Dr Kathleen Doyle, Lead Curator, Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library, by email to [email protected], or by post to 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, by 18 April 2016.  A telephone interview may be held, and questions may include a discussion about the date and origin of a manuscript.

Kathleen Doyle


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