Papers of I.J.C. Foster

Scope and Content

Primarily lectures, notes and research materials on early Christian architecture.

Also 765 35mm slides of early Christian architecture and antiquities, made from illustrations in a wide range of published works and from postcards and private photographs.

Also 741 postcards and photographs mounted in 9 albums. The first five albums (FOS 5/1-5) relate to a tour of the Middle East (particularly Syria, Palestine and Turkey) made by Foster in 1953. These volumes also contain some pictures of sites andbuildings in Greece and Italy. The other four albums (FOS 5/6-9) relate almost entirely to Italy, although there are a few pictures of buildings in Paris in FOS 5/8. The contents of all the albums strongly reflect Foster's research interest in earlychurch architecture, but they also include some postcards on subjects as varied as the souks of Aleppo, Turkish folk dancing, and classical sites in Greece.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ian John Charles Foster (1908-1978) was appointed to the staff of Durham University Library in 1946, and until 1950 worked on cataloguing early printed books in the Routh Collection. From research carried out in this period on 17th and 18thcentury paper and printing he published an article, with Kenneth Povey, on turned chain lines. In 1950 a separate Oriental Section of the University Library was formed, and he was appointed Assistant Librarian (from 1950 Keeper of Oriental Books) incharge of it. During the period until his retirement in 1973 he developed the section into an Oriental library of national importance, containing material in more than thirty ancient and modern languages, of most of which he had at least a workingknowledge himself. At the same time he carried forward his own research work in the field of early Christian architecture, particularly the shape and contents of early churches. He built up a large book and pictorial collection on the subject, whichhe bequeathed to the University Library. Some of this research he communicated in a notable series of illustrated lectures to the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, the slides for which are in the collection, buthe died without producing a book on the subject.


Not yet fully sorted

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Bequest by the collector, 1978.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue. Inventory list also available in Edward Preece's 2017 Durham MA thesis The Life and Lectures of I.J.C. Foster (Add Ms 2054).

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Further papers as Keeper of Oriental Books are in the Oriental Library section of the University Library archive (UND/EA3).