Collection NEWB - Percy Edward Newberry Collection

Calling cards Album of newspaper cuttings Group photograph with Egyptologists 01 Group photograph with Egyptologists 02 Group photograph with Egyptologists 03 Painting of a chalice Painting of a vase Tracing of goats in a tree Photograph of goats in a tree

Identity area

Reference code



Percy Edward Newberry Collection


  • 1629-1999 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

47 boxes, 4 oversize items

Context area

Name of creator

(23 April 1869 - 7 August 1949)

Biographical history

Percy Edward Newberry M.A. O.B.E. was born on 23 April 1869 and died at his home in Godalming, England, on 7 August 1949. He was educated at King’s College School and King’s College, London and later mentored in Egyptology by Reginald Stuart Poole of the British Museum and Francis Llewellyn Griffith. Newberry began his career at the Egypt Exploration Fund and, from 1890 to 1894, headed an expedition to investigate the tombs of Middle Kingdom nomarchs at Beni Hasan and El Bersha. In 1893-4, he published a two-volume monograph Beni Hasan which remains a definitive account of the tombs there. Newberry then operated as a freelance excavator from 1895-1901, undertaking a survey of the Necropolis at Thebes. In 1902 Newberry worked on the Catalogue Général of Egyptian Antiquities at the Cairo Museum.

In 1906 Newberry was appointed Brunner Professor of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, a position he held until 1919. In 1919 Newberry was appointed O.B.E. In 1923, he served as President of the Anthropological Section of the British Association, and from 1926 to 1927, he was Vice-President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. In 1929 Newberry accepted the chair of Ancient Egyptian History and Archaeology at the University of Egypt, Cairo, a post he held until 1933.

Newberry published extensively (see Magee, Diana, 'The Egyptological Bibliography of Percy Edward Newberry (1869-1949)', in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Volume 76, 1990) and Botany. Notable publications include several volumes in the series of the Archaeological Survey of Egypt, two volumes in the Catalogue Général of the Cairo Museum and Scarabs (1906).

On 12 February 1907, Newberry married Essie Winifred Johnston (1878-1953). There were no children of the marriage. Although largely undocumented, Newberry was previously married from 1894 to Helena Aders, whom he divorced in 1904.

Archival history

The Newberry collection was initially catalogued by J. R. Harris in 1954. Harris also appraised the material and recommended the following groups of material be destroyed:

  • Preliminary and intermediate MSS of articles of which identical final typescripts or revised drafts exist
  • Inscriptions taken directly from publications, including several digests of books
  • Scrap paper (Harris states in his report dated 6 December 1954, 'Newberry had a mania for pasting little scraps of paper onto larger ones without logical connection...I have followed a reverse policy, removing all the minute scraps and placing them in envelopes.')

Harris's arrangement comprised 22 groups of material sorted according to subject or format. Harris's catalogue is kept in the Griffith Institute, and his reference codes begin with 'PEN/G.', which have been included in the catalogue as alternative identifiers in this new listing.

Another attempt was made to arrange the collection by Diana Magee, who began sorting the material into a smaller set of subject groups. Evidence of this work is still present in the collection, with notes written by Magee left in to help researchers identify the material. The arrangement, however, was not completed.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Newberry's collection of research material was gifted to the Griffith Institute by Newberry's widow Essie Newberry and transferred from the British Museum in 1951.

Newberry's correspondence was listed by Warren Dawson and deposited at The Griffith Institute in 1950.

Three notebooks in the possession of Mr W. Dawson since 1949 (gift by Newberry himself) were deposited in 1960.

Item NEWB3/28 Notebook on Daressy's funeral cones was accessioned in May 2005 (donation by Dr Donald P. Ryan).

In 1988 photographs and research material relating to embroideries among Newberry's papers were transferred to the Department of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Percy Newberry Collection has been listed thanks to a cataloguing grant from the The National Archives in 2015. The collection comprises a wide range of material on topics including Predynastic Egypt, Theban tombs, Egyptian flora and fauna, early Egyptian travellers, ancient Egyptian religion and culture, as well as Newberry's genealogy. Formats include notebooks, research notes, photographs, tracings, rubbings and newspaper clippings.

The collection has been divided into 5 series: Biographical Material; Correspondence; Research Notebooks; Subject Files, and Research Material.

The following key subject terms collate material on the same subject, which have been listed in different series:
<a href="">Nome Ensigns</a>
<a href="">Flora and Fauna</a>
<a href="">Predynastic Egypt</a>
<a href="">Scarabs and Seals</a>

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The collection can be broadly divided into three types of material: correspondence, biographical material (some of which was collated after Newberry's death) and research material. Warren Dawson arranged Newberry's correspondence, and this remains a distinct series with his catalogue now included as part of the collection.

The rest of the material in the collection was listed by J.R. Harris in 1954 and later partially re-arranged by Diana Magee. It was clear from these arrangements that organising the collection by subject would be problematic. It was therefore decided to arrange the collection by format.

In a letter relating to the accession of Newberry's collection to the Griffith Institute Archive in 1951 Dr I. E. S. Edwards (Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum) lists:
(1) Tracings of tomb inscriptions and decorations (packed in brown trunk)
(2) Files containing notes on individual subjects (mainly in filing cabinets)
(3) A group of texts and other material dealing with the Second Intermediate Period
(4) A large collection of "scholar's notes" on various subjects for the most part classified but in some cases merely labelled "Miscellaneous notes".

Item 2, the 'Files containing notes on individual subjects', were split up during previous archival processing however it has been decided to arrange these files into one series to reflect original order and Newberry's own system of arrangement. It is however probable that material has been added and removed from these subject files since their accession.

Similarly it has been decided to organise Newberry's notebooks into a seperate series as these appear to have been used for reference by Newberry. Some of the notebooks are numbered and referenced by Newberry.

The remaining material has been organised under five subject headings in a series titled 'Research Material'. Much of this research material has previously been grouped into envelopes, folders and wallets by Harris and Magee and these groupings have been maintained where appropriate as evidence of previous processing.

A lot of this material also relates to material in the subject files and notebooks and so the following key subject terms have been created to collate material on the same subject which have been listed in different series:
<a href="">Nome Ensigns</a>
<a href="">Flora and Fauna</a>
<a href="">Predynastic Egypt</a>
<a href="">Scarabs and Seals</a>

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Property of the Griffith Institute. No restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright Griffith Institute, Oxford

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

No problems.

Finding aids

Full online catalogue.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

These are originals.

Existence and location of copies

Not known.

Related units of description

Other Archives:

  • A lot of over fifty letters addressed to Newberry by H. Carter, Lord Amherst, A. C. Benson, E. A. Wallis Budge, Schweinfurth, C. Read, and other egyptologists and archaeologists in England, France and Germany, relating to Newberry's work on the Theban tombs and other projects, was sold at Sotheby's London on 21st-22nd July 1988 (lot 410).
  • Five letters in Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, by S. Glanville, B. Gunn, and R. Moss.
  • Correspondence with J. L. Myres in the Bodleian Library, Special Collections of the University of Oxford.
  • Correspondence with the Egyptian Exploration Fund (later Society) in the archive of this institution.
  • Correspondence on an olive tree specimen found in Tutankhamun's tomb in Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Library and Archives.
  • There is a copy of one of E. W. Lane's notebooks in the British Library, made by Mrs Newberry, amongst Newberry's MSS.

Related descriptions

Publication note

  • Some of the papers relate to Newberry's publications.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

  • The documentation of the records at inventory level started on 1 May 2015. The latest additions were made on 24 November 2016.




Accession area

Related subjects

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: 0602-0607