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Moravian Church Manuscripts

Date range: 18th–20th centuries.

The majority of Moravian manuscripts were bequeathed by John Norman Libbey, Principal of the Moravian College at Fairfield.

There are original documents from the period 1746–1861, transcripts made by Libbey from the archives of the British Province in London and from those of Herrnhut in Germany, and papers and reference tools illustrating Libbey’s work as an historian of the Moravians. These records shed light both on the European background of the Church and on its development in Britain and Ireland.

Most notable is an almost complete set of the Moravian headquarters diary, consisting of an eighteenth-century English translation for 1747–53 and 1755–64, and a German version for 1747–54 (English mss 945–950).

Libbey’s working papers include a History of Unitas Fratrum in four notebooks, lists of English ministers and other Moravian ‘labourers’ up to 1900, analyses of the contents and authors of Moravian hymn-books from 1741 to 1940, and correspondence with English, American and German Moravian scholars, 1900–41.

Other items include fourteen original letters of James Hutton (1715–95), founder of the Moravian Church in England, 1774–84 (Eng. ms 1276), and the journal of Christian Ignatius La Trobe (1758–1836) for 1788–89 and 1792 (Eng. ms 1244). The latter provides valuable insights into the state of the continental Brethren, Moravian missionary work, and the anti-slavery movement.

There are also several hundred printed volumes, including a number of rare periodicals on Moravian subjects or by Moravian authors, from Libbey’s collection and other sources, seventeenth–nineteenth centuries.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • Recorded in published handlists of English Manuscripts (English MSS 110, 706, 871, 905, 910, 945-950, 965, 1054-1087, 1244, 1276).
  • Frank Taylor, 'The John Rylands Library, 1936–72’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 71, no. 2 (1989), p. 42.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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