Papers of James Tait (1863-1944), historian. Tait's papers include correspondence, original manuscripts, notebooks, photographs and appointment diaries.
There is a substantial body of correspondence (TAI/1) with a number of Tait's fellow historians and other academics including Hilda Johnstone, Helen Cam, J H Round, Ernest Jacob, Lord Acton, Mary Bateson, Sir Charles Firth, Sir Adolphus Ward, Frank Stenton, F W Maitland, Charles Previté-Orton, A H Thompson, R L Poole, T F Tout, Goronwy Edwards, H W C Davis, Maurice Powicke, and V H Galbraith. These letters are informative on Tait's reputation with his peers, and reveal details of Tait's research and that of his correspondents. The collection contains only one letter of Tait's (to Powicke), so his own views have to be, to a certain extent, extrapolated from the letters of correspondents.
Tait played a major role in supporting the study of local history and was an important source of advice and encouragement to historians and antiquarians working on the history of North West England. The collection includes significant correspondence from William Farrer, Ronald Stewart-Brown, Ernest Axon, John Brownbill, H.W. Clemesha, J A Twemlow and Joan Varley about various aspects of regional history. In later life, Tait was also frequently consulted by younger academics and research students about their research and publications, and they too are represented in the correspondence.
Other correspondents include Tait's friends from his Owens and Balliol days including: J. W. Allen, George A Wood, Raymond Beazley, George G. Smith and Thomas Seccombe.
Overall, while correspondence in the Tait papers does not yield information of major historiographical significance, it does provide valuable sidelights on the work of professional and amateur historians, on the networks which existed for mutual support and dissemination of knowledge within the profession, and on the reputations of particular historians.
The other sections of Tait's papers include testimonials supplied for academic posts, including his initial appointment as assistant lecturer at Owens College in 1887 (TAI/2). There are also Tait's notebooks and research notes (TAI/3), which include several notebooks from his student days and early academic career lectures notes. The papers also include a small collection of photographs of Tait, often taken in informal circumstances (TAI/6). The rest of the collection comprises Tait's pocket diaries which contain little information (TAI/5), and several exam certificates from his time at Oxford (TAI/4).