jat_sapphire (jat_sapphire) wrote in little_details,

How to get into British University libraries, 1920s

I'm writing fiction about a schoolmaster with an external degree earned after service in WWI. I gather his degree would most likely have been granted by the University of London, though he sat his exams elsewhere. He needs to do primary research for a book he is writing, and the papers he needs to see (I looked up their real location) are at the British Museum, the Bodleian, and Pembroke College, Oxford. I'd rather write the Oxford trip than the London one, but have no idea how procedures for getting permission to use, say, Duke Humphrey's library have changed since the mid 1920s, when the story is set. (I looked up the modern rules on the Oxford U. site.)

Does my character need a letter? An alumnus friend? An introduction from a current fellow or professor? Would he get a pass? Would it matter that he is not an alumnus in the usual sense (was there a distinction, social or practical, between an external BA and a matriculated one)? Would he need to use gloves to handle the manuscripts? Would he be allowed to take pencil notes? Was there any security check?

Can anybody point me in the direction of something that would help? I've looked, as I say, at the university site itself; I've searched Googlebooks and found interesting memoir and biography material, but mostly in regard to OU students or sometimes people on Fulbrights, etc. Nothing I found speaks to the history of the entrance rules or procedures. Before I'm driven to make up something vaguely plausible, I'd like to take another shot at finding facts.
Tags: 1920-1929, uk: education, ~librarians & libraries

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