Contents of this article
The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera provides access to thousands of items selected from the holdings of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Assembled by John de Monins Johnson (1882-1956), printer to the University of Oxford, it is widely recognised as the most significant single collection of ephemera in the UK. It includes a diverse array of material, including posters and handbills for theatrical and non-theatrical entertainments, broadsides relating to murders and executions, book and journal prospectuses, popular topographical prints, and a wealth of different kinds of printed advertising material.
The collection makes available 67,754 documents (174,196 images) arranged under five broad category headings: 19th-century entertainment; the book trade; popular prints; crime, murders and executions; and advertising. Bringing this underused material to the attention of researchers for the first time, it offers unique insights into the changing nature of everyday life in Britain from the 18th to the early 20th century.
The site offers a range of search options, including by keyword, name, subject, place, document type, printer/publisher etc., all with helpful authority lists. Search results may be organised by relevance or by date (earliest or latest first), as well as filtered by document type, physical form, production method and date. A thumbnail image is provided where available, and the document image may be downloaded either to a Lightbox or to a personalised 'My workspace' area. A durable URL and citation are provided in each case.
The John Johnson Collection makes available high-quality, full-colour scans of the selected material, accompanied by detailed metadata to support searching and browsing. The text of some of the material in the collection has also been OCRed.
Strengths and weaknesses
The John Johnson Collection contains a wealth of material for the cultural and social history of Britain from the 18th century to the early years of the 20th. The cataloguing undertaken for the project allows very detailed and structured searching of this material, and some full-text searching is also available. Some of the items catalogued in the collection have not been digitised because of copyright restrictions, but it is possible for users to restrict their searches only to those records with which images are associated.
About the project
The John Johnson Collection online is the result of a partnership between the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, and ProQuest, with funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through its eContent and Digitisation programme.