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About the British Jesuit Archives

Find out about the Jesuits in Britain and their archives and meet the team.

History of the Province Archives

In 1938 the title Archivist was first used for a Jesuit in the Province, but there had been Jesuits before then tasked with caring for the Archives often as 'Writer of the Society'.

Find out about the Jesuits who shaped the Archives here.

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History of the Jesuits in Britain

You can discover the history of the Jesuits in Britain on the Province website.

Meet The Team

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Rebecca Somerset


I became the Province Archivist for the Jesuits in 2014 having qualified as an Archivist in 2012 doing a distance learning postgraduate course whilst working for a Catholic female religious order.

The reason I love being an Archivist is that it is such varied work. It is very satisfying bringing order to a collection and in being able to assist people in their research. The task I am most passionate about is in making archives as accessible to as wide an audience as possible. This can be achieved by using a variety of formats, from publications to exhibitions to talks. Digitisation can be a great tool in this as it allows material to be shared widely without damage to the original document.  I feel that it is important to share what is held in the archives as this gives meaning to why records are being kept and preserved and also promotes an understanding of the history as contained therein. There are such wonderful treasurers in archives and they should not be consigned to dark cupboards to be forgotten about. Naturally, careful consideration has to be made regarding what is suitable and can be made available. 

I am equally passionate to promote a better understanding of what an archive is and what it is we do, and to support and share my own professional knowledge with others working or interested in this sector.

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Mary Allen

Deputy Archivist

I have been working at the British Jesuit Archives since the beginning of 2015 and have previously worked and volunteered in a variety of Archive services. I have been a qualified Archivist since 2013.

A large part of my role here is helping to catalogue the vast collections of material that we have to make them accessible to the public and ensure that we have a good understanding of the material that we hold. Another key element in making the information in the records more accessible is answering enquiries from members of the public and supervising visitors to the archives. I have also managed conservation and digitisation projects and look after our volunteers and work experience students.


​What I love about working with archives is that each institution is, by the very nature of archives, unique, and the opportunities this affords to become familiar with and knowledgeable about different institutions and types of records. Since I come from a history background, one of my favourite aspects of my work is writing blog posts because I can use our archive and library material to research various topical historical events which are either specific to the Society, or look at how national and international events affected the lives of the British Jesuits.

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Lucy Vinten

Assistant Archivist & Rare Book Cataloguer

I started working at the British Jesuit Archive in 2016 and then spent the next two years studying part time for an archive qualification at University College London while continuing to work for the Jesuit Archive.  It was fascinating working in the archive at the same time as doing the course, having the practical experience alongside the theoretical, as well as fully-qualified colleagues to discuss the course with.

Much of my time at the Jesuit Archive has been spent cataloguing the archive material, but increasingly I have focused on the collection of 16th and 17th century books.  I have always been interested in old books, and have recently taken courses on rare book library cataloguing, historical bibliography and the physical care of books in order to better look after our collection.  I particularly enjoy working with the old books because they sit at the intersection of history, archives and material culture and I can use skills from my background in history and archaeology.  Every rare book has its own history – how it was made and by whom, who used it and how it was used, and how it ended up in our collection, and is also part of a larger network of book production and use.  I enjoy finding out about each book and sharing its story.  When all the books have been catalogued, their stories will be available for all to search, browse and discover.

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