May 22, 2022

Report: “From Shakespeare to Ian Curtis: British Pop Archive to Open in Manchester”

From The Guardian:

An archive’s fabulous treasures, including a Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare first folio and the oldest known fragment of the New Testament, are to be joined by Ian Curtis’s handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control and a wealth of material that shines light on Granada TV.

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library in Manchester has announced plans for the British Pop Archive (BPA), which it hopes will become the national collection for all aspects of postwar popular culture.


The collection will include the archive of Rob Gretton, the manager who oversaw the transition of Joy Division into New Order and was a meticulous record-keeper, according to Hannah Barker, the director of the John Rylands institute and a professor of British history.

“He kept everything. The archive is enormous, it took up an entire cellar. I never knew Rob, but I’m assuming he kept these things because he knew they were important.”

Barker said the idea for a popular culture archive began to form in her head in 2018 after the deaths of Mark E Smith and Pete Shelley. “Because I’m a historian who works in archives, I remember thinking: ‘I wonder what happens if these guys had no archive.’”

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More From the University of Manchester:

Rylands has a long history of shaping the city’s local and international identity. The University of Manchester Library’s collections of over ten million items include artefacts relating to some of the most important cultural figures in history, including the oldest known fragment of the New Testament, the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, invaluable collections of Hebrew and Islamic materials and much, much more. The BPA will be both an important academic resource for research and teaching and a public resource for exhibitions and public events.

Working with the celebrated music journalist and broadcaster Jon Savage – who was recently appointed as Professor of Popular Culture at The University of Manchester – the BPA has ambitious plans to build on its current collection and create a comprehensive representation of British popular culture.

Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library, said: “The John Rylands Research Institute and Library is one of the acknowledged great libraries of the world. This position is founded on our astonishing special collections and archives. Whilst we continue to work on materials in every format and every language from five thousand years of human history it is critical that we also engage with our own time.”

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Direct to British Pop Archive Website

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.