Alphonse Mingana, Papers of

Scope and Content

Papers of Alphonse Mingana (1878-1937), scholar and curator of oriental manuscripts. Includes proofs of the index of his catalogue of his collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts; files of press cuttings; correspondence with manuscript dealers and with researchers; some correspondence concerning the Church of Malabar; notebooks which include draft articles, letters, and reports; photographs; books and articles.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mingana was born near Mosul, Iraq, and was educated at the Seminaire St Jean, Mosul, where he trained for the priesthood, studying Turkish, Persian, Kurdish, Latin, French, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was ordained in 1902 and spent the next ten years studying and teaching at the Seminary. In 1913, following a dispute with the authorities, he left Mosul and travelled to England, settling in Birmingham, where he was befriended by the orientalist and biblical scholar James Rendel Harris. He spent the next two years living with Harris and at Woodbrooke College, where he met his wife, Emma Sophie Floor, a student from Norway. They married in 1915 and had two children. In the same year, Mingana moved to the John Rylands Library, Manchester to work as a curator of Oriental manuscripts; his catalogue of this collection was published in 1934. He made several journeys to the Middle East in the 1920s in search of manuscripts, financed by Edward Cadbury. In 1932, he returned to Birmingham to work as Curator of these manuscripts, the Mingana Collection. He died suddenly in 1937, just before the third volume of his catalogues was published.


The collection has been divided into three groups, the first two according to provenance, and a third section contains letters to Mingana. Each group has then been arranged by record type.

Access Information

Access to all registered readers

Acquisition Information

Orchard Learning Resources Centre

Other Finding Aids

Please see the full catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

There are two groups of papers (sub-fonds) in the collection. The first had been kept in the Selly Oak Colleges Library since Mingana's death. It was transferred to the Orchard Learning Resources Centre which was opened in 1997 following the merger of the Selly Oak Colleges Library and the Westhill College Library. The second group of papers was discovered in a suitcase in the attic of the Selly Oak Colleges Library in the early 1980s. In 2000, the custodianship of all archive collections held at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre was transferred to the University of Birmingham, and is now housed at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections.

A letter from Edward Cadbury to Hans Gottschalk [Curator, Mingana Collection] was discovered in the Mingana Room in September 2004 and catalogued as DA66/2/6/9.

Related Material

Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections also holds the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts collected by Alphonse Mingana. A collection level description is available on the online archive catalogue, reference: MINGANA. The annual reports of the curator of the Mingana collection is referenced: DA62. There are also some letters from Mingana in the papers of James Rendel Harris, reference: DA21. In addition we hold a volume of news cuttings and press notices concerning the Rendel Harris Library, reference: DA67, which includes photographs and news cuttings relating to Alphonse Mingana.