Making the Archive Public #1 – William Corbett’s Bookshop

Making the Archives Public was a UTLSEC Innovation Fund (University Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee) project in 2014/15. Devised by Dr Ruth Connolly and Dr Stacy Gillis from the School of English with further expertise and access provided by our own Special Collections, Queen’s University Belfast, and local heritage partners, it incorporated traditional curation and digitisation with web based visualisations. As an introduction to some of the concepts behind Digital Humanities, these online exhibitions served to widen the understanding and availability of physical documented heritage to the public.

In this blog series, we will be showcasing examples from this project, using the rich archive and rare book collections on offer to researchers in the North East. 

Here is the #1 in this ‘Making the Archive Public‘ series:

William Corbett’s Bookshop

William Corbett's Bookshop


This site, created by Claire Boreham, allows users to browse the shelves of a seventeenth-century bookshop.

William Corbett was a bookseller in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the seventeenth century. When he died in 1626, an inventory of his shop was made, listing over a thousand books, mentioning around two hundred of them by name. This is an incredible insight into what books the Newcastle public were buying and reading in the early years of printing, such as Bibles and theological books (an example is shown in the image below).

William Corbett’s will and the inventory of his house and shop are held in Durham University Special Collections and the exhibition also includes rare and unique material from Newcastle University Special Collections, Newcastle City Library, and Queen’s University Belfast Special Collections.


Christopher Barker, “The Bible, that is, the Holy Scriptures, contained in the Old and New Testament,” William Corbett’s Bookshop