Archive & research facilities
Welcome to the archives of the Wedgwood Museum
The manuscript collection of the Wedgwood Museum will appeal to many, offering resources on a wide range of topics far beyond the world of ceramics. The breadth of the collection means that they can offer something for everyone from students and academics to family- and local historians.
The role of the archive service is to both safeguard and preserve its collection while at the same time making material accessible for those who wish to use it. The service exists within the overall structure of the Museum to promote the widest possible access to its archival material and provide an impartial service to all users. The Wedgwood Museum is a 'combined repository' – that is, it collects material from its parent Company as well as from external sources – and this is reflected in the diversity of its collection.
What can the manuscript collection offer me?
Over 80,000 manuscripts have been fully catalogued and are accessible to users. These are all listed in catalogues that are kept in the reading room for users to consult. The manuscripts collection comprises four distinct 'fonds' – or groups – Etruria, Liverpool, Mosely and Barlaston. The first came from Lady Euphemia Farrer, a Wedgwood by birth. Shortly after the opening of the first Wedgwood Museum in 1906 she donated her collection, mainly consisting of the letters of Josiah Wedgwood, together with records gathered in from the factory at the same time, which formed the 'Etruria Collection.' The second, referred to as the 'Liverpool Collection', was originally purchased by Joseph Mayer, the Liverpool antiquarian, after having been disposed of by the Wedgwood Company on the death of Josiah Wedgwood II in 1843. Upon Mayer’s death this collection was bequeathed to Liverpool Museum where they remained until being exchanged for twenty-five pieces of Wedgwood ware from the Etruria Museum in 1924. The third, the 'Mosely Collection', takes its name from their donor, Mrs William Mosely, a great-great-granddaughter of Josiah Wedgwood, and are mostly family documents. The fourth, known as the 'Barlaston Collection', is a diverse accumulation of factory records dating from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The Etruria and Liverpool Collections together total 60,000 documents and the Mosely Collection a further 15,000. In addition there are also approximately twenty-two linear metres of unboxed material such as ledgers and large deeds. The Barlaston Collection, only part-catalogued thoroughly, consist of approximately 160 box files. In addition to the manuscripts there are a number of other distinct collections:
680 pattern books occupy 50 metres of linear shelving including a complete set of Wedgwood books dating from the 18th century, as well as those from factories who have either now ceased production or have been incorporated into the Company through amalgamation.
Factory Production Records
These include Shape Books, Estimate Books, Crest Books, Order Books and Wage Books.
These date from the 18th century and include Useful and Ornamental ware catalogues to 2oth century advertising catalogues.
Photographs and Photograph Albums
These range from 19th century views of the factory and working processes, family members and employees, key events including royal visits through to modern exhibitions and displays.
The Museum has a collection of 1334 maps and plans including 18th and 19th century hand-drawn estate- and factory plans to printed county and ordnance survey maps.
An extensive collection of cuttings dating from the 18th century, largely from newspapers and magazines, provide a useful reference on a wide range of topics.
The museum holds a collection of reel film and video which is currently undergoing digitisation and cataloguing.
The library contains approximately 5,000 publications, ranging from two-page pamphlets to multi-volume works, including a number of books from Josiah Wedgwood’s own library. A small selection of books duplicated in the library are also deposited in the reading room for ready-access by users. These consist of transcripts of the original letters of Josiah Wedgwood together with other surrogates, along with published works on Wedgwood (family and business), local history and general ceramic reference works.
How do I consult the manuscripts?
Access to the manuscript collection is in the public reading room housed inside the Wedgwood Museum. Using the reading room is subject to a fee of £5 per day or part thereof. The room is capable of accommodating sixteen users and contains 3 PCs available for use by researchers. Requests for PC access should be made at the time of booking. In some instances it may be able to use one that is free but users are asked to consider the needs of other researchers.
A valid reader's ticket has to be shown upon arrival and deposited with the duty archivist who retains the ticket for the duration of the visit. Reader's Tickets are available on application from the Wedgwood Museum. Tickets are valid for one year and applications and renewals are subject to an administration fee of £25. A visitor's book is also maintained which helps the archives to collect data about the service it offers with the intention of improvement. The reading room is for researchers only and cannot entertain 'guests' that may accompany the user. Coats, jackets, bags, mobile phones and cameras may not be taken into the reading room. There is secure storage for these and other personal belongings in lockers located in the cloakroom.
The opening times of the archives are 10.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. The Reading Room closes for a lunch break of 1 hour at 12.30pm.
Booking is essential to ensure that space is available and that the records you wish to consult are accessible (i.e. not offsite for conservation). Bookings can be made in person, by telephone, email or letter. It is advisable to check in advance whether the collection includes the type of material you want by explaining to us the type of information you require. The archivist will then be able to advise you if a personal visit is likely to be worthwhile. Because of the nature of archives we cannot always be certain that you will find the information you require, but we may be able to suggest source material and give our opinion on whether your proposed topic is practical.
When I arrive at the reading room how do I identify the material I want?
The reading room contains printed indexes of the manuscript collection:
The Etruria and Liverpool collections have been catalogued together. These consist of eight A4 hardback typeset catalogues totalling 1380 pages. An attempt was made to follow the evolution of the business from family to factory, and as far as possible, classify the records accordingly. To facilitate finding, some archival principles were omitted and subjective sections introduced to bring associated topics more conveniently together.
One A4 softback typeset catalogue containing 131 pages. As with the Etruria/Liverpool catalogue, in the interest of simplicity some principles of archival classification were set aside and the collection broadly divided into family and factory records. Please note that there is now a downloadable pdf version of this file on the right-hand side of this page.
The Barlaston files had an interim list prepared in 2006. These are listed by box number with a description of the key contents contained within each box. The collection is currently in the process of being catalogued in greater detail.
The computers in the reading room also contain those parts of the indexes which have been converted to electronic format. This is an ongoing process and is likely to be some time before all the indexes are duplicated in electronic format.
I have found a document(s) in the indexes that I would like to consult – what do I do next?
The manuscripts are kept in controlled storage areas offering security and environmental protection. On the table in the centre of the room you will find a box containing document request slips. Take one for each document you wish to consult and fill in the fields (document reference number, your name, date and brief description of item). It is important that you include the unique document number which will enable the archivist to locate the item. You will find this in the catalogues for the specific collections – Etruria, Liverpool, Mosely, Map Collection, etc. The hard-copy catalogues are on open access on bookshelves in the reading room. Please replace the catalogues back on the shelf for other users after use. (Inclusion of the document reference number is also applicable to ordering documents in advance of a visit, such as by telephone, email and letter). It is possible to order up to three documents at any one time. A separate request slip is required for each item. Take the completed request slip to the archivist who will then locate the items in our strong rooms and bring the items to you. You will be asked to sign the request slip to indicate that you have received the item(s). You must observe the Search Room Regulations when consulting documents.
Why do regulations exist over the use of manuscripts?
Regulations concerning the use of manuscripts exist because archives are unique and cannot be replaced if damaged or lost. This is why they have to be consulted in the reading room under the supervision of staff to ensure that they are properly handled. They cannot be borrowed for use elsewhere. Smoking, eating and drinking is not allowed in the reading room. Pencils only should be used for making notes and certain items may require the use of book supports, weights and polyester sheets which will be provided by the archivist.
Records must be handled with care and no mark of any kind made upon them. Documents must not be directly leaned on and paper must not be written upon whilst lying on any record.Any accidental damage to archive material must be reported to the archivist. No tracing should be made of any document without the permission of the archivist. If such tracing is permitted a soft pencil and a protective sheet of transparent polyester film will be supplied by the archivist.
Some records may not generally be available for consultation. These include documents that are awaiting cataloguing or conservation. The archivist will advise in such cases. Requests for access to documents which are generally not open must be made in writing to the archivist and the reason for consultation stated.
The reading room is always staffed not only to ensure the security of the documents, but also to help visitors find what is available and to offer advice on how to use the facilities and to make best use of the records. The archivist may also be able to suggest alternative sources for information should you come across a difficulty.
What do I do when I have finished with a document(s)?
Return them to the archivist who will check them and sign that they have been returned. Items must be returned before further items can be issued.
Can I use my laptop in the reading room?
Yes. The majority of tables are located near to an electrical socket. The use of cameras and scanners is not permitted.
Can I borrow or withdraw documents?
No. The collections belonging to The Wedgwood Museum Trust are for reference purposes only.
I am mobility/hearing/sight impaired – can I still use the reading room?
The archive service will do its best to accommodate your needs and it is advisable to speak to the archivist before your visit. The new museum has been designed to accommodate wheelchair access. There are no steps leading up to the new museum from the car park and the reading room is on the ground floor. Toilet facilities for wheelchair access exist on the first floor for which access can be gained by the lift. The museum has recently purchased a visualiser for projecting documents onto a flat surface such as a wall for those with sight difficulties.
Is it possible to arrange group visits?
The archives are happy to arrange group visits to see original source material. For reasons of space and supervision such visits are only possible by prior arrangement and adequate notice is necessary. There is a fee for group visits. The museum also provides a year-round programme of outreach events to encourage people to extend their skills and knowledge and to make the best use of the records. Please ask for further information.
Is it possible to obtain copies of items?
Copyright restrictions apply to almost all items except when used for private non-commercial profit research whether in original or surrogate form. Subject to copyright regulations and conservation issues we can supply photocopies of items for personal research purposes for a charge, provided that this can be done without damaging the original. An order form and copyright declaration must be signed. This can be handed to the archivist or posted back to the Museum. Order forms may also be downloaded from the website. In general we cannot photocopy items in bound volumes, those larger than A3 or fragile documents. Copies are charged at 50p per sheet plus p&p. Where items cannot be photocopied it may be possible to scan or photograph them. In all cases it is necessary to sign a copyright declaration form. Also see the Reprographic Service below.
Because manuscripts come in all shapes, sizes and conditions this means that photocopying is inappropriate for many items. Bound volumes cannot be photocopied if there exists a risk of damaging the spine and neither can large documents where there is the possibility of tearing. To address these problems the Museum offers its own in-house reprographic service. Subject to copyright and conservation issues it is possible to order a scan of a whole document or just the part that you require. These can be supplied as either jpeg or tiff images on CD or printed on either A3 or A4 paper.
Search fees (see Search Service below) are not normally charged where a document(s) can be quickly and easily identified for copying. Search fees will however be charged if the request for copying involves a search in the documents themselves to identify the section required for copying, or a search to identify individual items for copying. We can supply an estimate in advance of the cost of the copies for large orders, but a search fee will be charged for doing so. Please ensure that when ordering copies by post that you state your instructions clearly and precisely as we cannot accept responsibility for errors arising from imprecise instructions.
It is not possible to undertake scanning orders on-the-spot. Small orders are usually processed within five days, but larger orders require longer. Estimates can be provided of both costs and timescale.
Scale of charges:
Cost of supplying a photocopy £1.00 (& p&p).
Cost of supplying a digitial image £50 (& p&p).
Reproduction of Archives
All requests for the reproduction of archives, whether for publication in hard copy or on a website, for exhibition/display or for media use, must be put in writing to The Wedgwood Museum Trust. We will then seek any necessary permissions from the owners of documents (if necessary). Please note that this may take some time and should be allowed for in the timescale for completing an order. A facility fee is payable for this service. The current facility fees for the reproduction of images are as follows:
Commercial publication or exhibition - £50 for each item.
Community publication or exhibition - £30 for each item.
Multiple commercial publication. e.g. cards and calendars - £100 for each item.
Regional TV, films or video - £100 for each item plus staff time and travel expenses if staff are involved.
UK and overseas TV - £100 for each item plus staff time and travel expenses if staff are involved.
The Museum also reserves the right to ask for a copy of any publication which makes extensive use of images it has provided.
The archivist will answer enquiries about the collections and possible source material for research. If you are unable to visit the museum in person an option may be to use the fee-paid search service. The standard rate is £20 including VAT per hour charged in half-hourly blocks and for this the archive sources will be checked and a report by the archivist sent with the results. The fee includes, where possible, photocopies, details of sources consulted and where appropriate suggestions for further research. Payment in advance is required. The time charged for includes searching the records, an examination of relevant material and report writing.
Searches are undertaken in the order in which they are received. The archivist reserves the right to refuse to undertake a research if the information supplied is insufficient or for any other reason and to place a maximum of three hours on any one research request in order to meet the needs of other users of the service.
Any person wishing to reproduce or publish, in electronic or hard-copy form, in whole or in part, any record or any transcript of any record in possession of the Wedgwood Museum Trust must submit a written application in advance for permission to do so, indicating the nature of the proposed publication.
A rewarding and enjoyable pastime is working as a museum volunteer. There are many aspects of archives work in which YOU can play an important part, as well as learning new skills. If you wish to become involved with contributing to one of the most important manuscript collections in the UK please check the volunteer oportunities listed on our website for further details.
- Reader's Ticket application form
- Rules for the use of archives by readers
- Resource Guide No.1: Family History at The Wedgwood Museum Archives
- Resource Guide No.2: Wedgwood Family Letters Guide
- Calender of the Letters of Josiah Wedgwood
- Calendar of the Letters of Phoebe Wedgwood
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Three
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Four
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Five
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Six
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Seven
- The Wedgwood Manuscripts, Etruria and Liverpool Online Catalogue Book Eight
- Catalogue of the Wedgwood-Mosley Collection
- Manuscript Subject Catalogue A-G
- Manuscript Subject Catalogue S-Z
- Manuscript Subject Catalogue H-R
- The Barlaston Papers - initial online catalogue
- List of Photograph Albums
- List of Letter Books
- Etruria Rent Accounts (1796-1811)
- Pattern Book Inventory
- Etruria & Maer Rental 1808 - 1844
- Index of The Wedgwood International Seminar Published Articles
- List of Visitor Books
- The Darwin and Wedgwood families in Wales
- Mason's Collectors' Club Newsletters
- Index of The Wedgwood International Seminar Published Annuals.