Ward-Perkins Collection


John Bryan Ward-Perkins was born in Kent in 1912 and died in Cirencester in 1981. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford where he obtained a First in Greats in 1934 and he first visited the British School at Rome as Craven Fellow in the same year. He was appointed Assistant at the London Museum under the Keepership of Mortimer Wheeler in 1936 and Professor of Archaeology at the Royal University of Malta in 1939 but after a few months returned home to volunteer as a soldier under the command of his former museum director. The war years took him to North Africa, where he was seconded to organize care of the antiquities under the Military Government in Libya and after rejoining his regiment in Italy, was appointed head of the Monuments and Fine Arts Sub-Commission for Italy, which documented damage to monuments in Italy caused by bombing during the war. He was appointed Director of the British School at Rome, which had been closed during the war years, in May 1945 where he remained until his retirement in 1974.
John Bryan Ward-Perkins was Director of the BSR for 29 years. His long Directorship was as remarkable as that of Thomas Ashby and his many and diverse scholarly interests and archaeological projects reflect those of his predecessor, as does his interest in photography and the importance of photographs as historical documents. His interest in archaeology began as a boy at Winchester and he chose the Iron Age of Britain and France as his topic for advanced study at Oxford. As Craven Fellow in Rome he began studying sculpture and architectural ornament from its classical origins to medieval times and during his time at the London Museum, participated in many excavations.

The Collection
The extraordinary collection of c. 50,000 items (prints and negatives) which includes his own photographs as well as those of others, is well organized and annotated and a detailed inventory of the negatives was compiled by Ward-Perkins himself. The collection consists of approx. 32,755 photographic prints, 13,222 film negatives (6x6, 6x7, 6x9 cm), 2,219 film negatives (35 mm), 2,648 coloured slides. It is the broad scope of this collection that makes it so valuable to scholars as it reflects Ward-Perkins’ many and diverse scholarly interests which include: the archaeology of the Roman world, including North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor, Europe, particularly Italy; Roman, Byzantine and Medieval architecture in Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, particularly Italy; Roman pottery, sarcophagi, northern Italian tomb stones; marbles and quarries; damage to Italian monuments during World War II. The collection of photographs has been part of the BSR Photographic Archive since the end of Ward-Perkins’s Directorship in 1974 and his family very generously donated his library and archive to the BSR in 1981. They have given us full permission to make his photographs available on the internet and the copyright is held by the BSR.

What’s online
In 2007 The Getty Foundation funded the cataloguing and organization of part of the J.B. Ward-Perkins collection through a second two-year grant.

Conditions governing access and reproduction
All material in this collection is available only by appointment with the Library and Archive staff. For Usage and Reproduction see here.


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