During the first century of the library's existence there was no catalogue. The earliest, compiled in 1665, shows about 2,000 volumes. This was used until the 1674 printed Bodleian catalogue was published, when a copy was interleaved and annotated.
Separate contemporary catalogues have survived of the great benefactions of the 18th century – Aldrich, Stratford, Orrery and Wake. The duplicates sale of 1813 financed the compilation of a new catalogue, supplanting the existing one in three sequences. Next the pamphlets were re-catalogued during the 1820s, and between 1844 and 1847 a catalogue of music was made by H.E. Havergal. Lists of music in the Aldrich bequest made by Charles Burney and William Boyce, about 1778, also survive.
In 1867 G.W. Kitchin published the first catalogue of the whole of the manuscripts collection. Kitchin's catalogue (still the only listing all core manuscripts collections) follows the style adopted by H.O. Coxe in his catalogues of Oxford college libraries, though there is no list of donors. It is now extremely out of date.
Between 1928 and 1935 the library was re-organised, the current catalogue, first written in the 1890s, was thoroughly checked, and a separate card catalogue of pamphlets made. At the same time names of former owners written in books were recorded. A nineteenth-century list of autographs in the Allestree Library is also among the library records.
In 1982, Teresa Webber added the manuscripts not included in a Supplement Catalogue. New acquisitions are listed in a Continuation Manuscript Catalogue.
At present work to create new detailed online catalogues of both the manuscripts and the early printed books collections is well under way.
The catalogue of the music collection has been finalized. For this, thanks are due to Dr John Milsom and Matthew Phillips.
Catalogues of the manuscripts collections are gradually becoming available. The Western Manuscripts catalog up to 1600, by Professor Ralph Hanna and Dr David Rundle, is now finished and accessible in both print and TEI version (by Dr Matthew Holford). Work on the Hebrew Manuscripts Catalogue, by Professor Malachi Beit-Arie and Dr Rachal Fronda, is in progress.
Both historic and modern collections of printed books are being catalogued on SOLO, the online catalogue of the majority of Oxford's electronic and printed library collections. Antiquarian cataloguers are David Stumpp (working in early printed books in Roman script) and Dr Rahel Fronda (working on early printed books in Hebrew script) Work on the Lewis Carroll collection catalogue is in progress.
The initiative to create a detailed online catalogues of the various collections at Christ Church was made possible due to the generous support of The Polonsky Foundation, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, Christ Church alumni and Christ Church Governing Body.
1. George William Kitchin, Catalogus codicum mss. qui in bibliotheca Ædis Christi apud Oxonienses adservantur, e typographeo Clarendoniano, 1867 (with addenda on cards).
2. Arkwright's catalogue of manuscript music, annotated.
3. Author catalogue of the printed books, written in six volumes.
4. Card catalogue of pamphlets.
5. Card catalogue of the Allestree Library.
6. Card catalogue of the library from Wotton-under-Edge.
7. Annotated copy of the published catalogue of printed music by Hiff. (These items are also included in Edith B. Schnapper, The British Union-Catalogue of Early Music Printed Before the Year 1801 (1957).)
8.A copy of Sir A.E. Cowley, A Concise Catalogue of the Hebrew Printed Books in the Bodleian Library (1929), annotated with relevant holdings.
Until the new edition now in preparation is published, the Christ Church locations in Donald Wing's Short-Title Catalogue 1641-1700, like those of Balliol and Merton, must be used with caution and only after checking W.G. Hiscock's The Christ Church Supplement to Wing's Short-title Catalogue 1641-1700 (1956). The same author also published in duplicated form in a limited edition a very useful list, The Christ Church Holdings in Wing's Short-title Catalogue 1641-1700 of which less than five Copies are Recorded in the United Kingdom (1956).
9. Teresa Webber, Christ Church Manuscripts Catalogue Supplement (Christ Church Library, 1981) - typescript.
Early printed books
Detailed antiquarian descriptions of over 50,000 early printed books are now included in SOLO, the Oxford University Union Catalogue. Work is in progress at a steady pace.
Compiled between 1893 and 1898 by William Francis, library clerk and Dean's Verger, but as early as 1908 there were complaints that it was 'choked full of solecisms, errors and confusions.' Despite revisions in the 1930s this remains the case, and by modern standards the catalogue is woefully inadequate, with no details of printers or publishers, no subject or title index and frequently bizarre choices of headings.
Until the present programme of re-cataloguing has been completed the Ledger will continue to provide the only access to large parts of the historic collections, but it is now in poor condition, and other catalogues should be consulted wherever possible.
Compiled on cards by W.G. Hiscock, replacing an earlier ledger. It contains cards for many thousands of more ephemeral publications, including the great pamphlet collection housed in the attic of the Upper Library. Some items from these collections are to be found in the Ledger Catalogue.
Allestree Library Catalogue
The Allestree Library is the historic library of the Oxford Regius Professors of Divinity, administered by Christ Church Library since 1946, and still kept separately. The card catalogue was compiled by W.G. Hiscock, and the cards are now kept in the East Library. There is no subject index, and the catalogue does not generally include details of printers or publisher.
Hussey Library Catalogue
The Hussey Library is the former library of the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History. It is a comparatively small collection and its contents date mainly from the 19th century. A separate ledger catalogue is available.
A Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts to c.1600, in Christ Church, Oxford, by Ralph Hanna and David Rundle (Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2017).
George William Kitchin, Catalogus codicum mss. qui in bibliotheca Ædis Christi apud Oxonienses adservantur, e typographeo Clarendoniano, 1867.
Teresa Webber, Christ Church Manuscripts Catalogue Supplement (Christ Church Library, 1981)
Compiled by John Milsom, the on-line catalogue of music source materials at Christ Church will cover all manuscript pieces, and all early printed music and works relating to music throughout the library's collections. The sections of the catalogue dealing with printed works were launched on 28th June 2004. A selection of descriptions of manuscripts is currently available; more are being added regularly.
G.E.P. Arkwright, Catalogue of music in the library of Christ Church, Oxford, Pt. 1: Works of ascertained authorship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1915-). Part three of the catalogue ('A thematic catalogue of anonymous instrumental music') was never published; but a draft copy is available in the Library.
Aloys Hiff, Catalogue of the printed music prior to 1801 now in the library of Christ Church, Oxford (1919). The list of contents of reels for the published microfilm set of our printed music includes a full list of our printed music collection, and this may be used as a rudimentary finding aid in the absence of an on-line catalogue.