Collection Birch MSS - Samuel Birch Collection

Identity area

Reference code

Birch MSS


Samuel Birch Collection


  • c. 1813-1885 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1 notebook

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Name of creator


Biographical history

British Egyptologist and Sinologist; born London, 3 Nov. 1813, son of the Revd Samuel B. and Margaret Browning; he was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, 1826-31, then studied Chinese 1831-4, also the works of Young and Champollion on hieroglyphs; he entered the service of Commrs. of Public Records, 1834; was made assistant in the British Museum, 1836; became Assistant Keeper, Dept. of Antiquities 1844-61; Keeper of the Oriental, British, and Medieval Antiquities, 1861-6; Keeper of Oriental Antiquities, 1866-85, on the separation of this dept.; LL.D., Aberdeen University, 1862; LL.D., University of Cambridge, 1875; DCL, University of Oxford, 1876. He established Champollion's system in England. As a museum official Birch was an excellent recorder and cataloguer of the rapidly growing collections in his care, being one of the very first people to put this work on a systematic basis; he not only made a register of every object acquired by 'the museum when it first arrived, but also recorded so many objects with descriptions and in some cases translations of inscriptions on them, that the slips thus made filled 104 vols. at the time of his death. An active publisher of texts, he first sorted out many of the papyrus fragments acquired from Salt, Wilkinson, and others. Outside the Museum Birch was one of the first lecturers on Egyptological subjects in England; he was also the founder and first President of the Soc. of Biblical Archaeology, 1870. The quantity of his published work like that of his unpublished work was immense, in all his bibl. lists 305 items and covers Near and Far East as well as British and Classical archaeology, including Egyptian Grammar and Egyptian Dictionary, 1867, for vol. v of Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History; this was his most famous work, the latter being the first complete dictionary ever published, an excellent concise work that listed 9,270 words and had c.30,000 refs.; he edited 12 vols. of Records of the Past; Facsimile of an Egyptian Hieratic papyrus of the Reign of Ramesses III, Pap. Harris I with trans., 1876; Catalogue of the Collection of Egyptian Antiquities at Alnwick Castle, 1880; he also contributed translations and notes to Vyse's vols., and revised Wilkinson's Manners and Customs. 1878. He died in Camden Town, London, 27 Dec. 1885; buried Highgate Cemetery.

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One notebook.

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Currently not available for consultation for reasons of conservation.

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  • Shelf: 1303