Cardinal Newman documents being digitised

(University of Manchester)

A team of experts has embarked on a three-year project to digitise thousands of Cardinal Newman's documents.

They are using cutting edge equipment at the University of Manchester's John Rylands Library to create the digital archive.

The project was initiated by the US-based National Institute for Newman Studies over 10 years ago and the institute is now funding and managing the £386,000 digitisation process.

Mary Jo Dorsey from the National Institute for Newman Studies said: "Our prime aim is to enhance and extend the reach of Newman's life, thought, and spirituality.

"An important goal of the digital library is to not only preserve and extend the Newman Archive to scholars around the globe, but to build a multidimensional research tool for the humanities.

"So we are delighted that the project will bring his teachings to the community of Newman scholars as well as to today's pluralistic, diverse society."

After the digitisation process has been completed, the original documents, thought to number around 200,000, will be boxed and re-housed at the Birmingham Oratory. The end result will be a comprehensive digital library including all of Newman's published and unpublished works.

James Robinson, senior photographer at the library's Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care, said: "We're delighted to be working with NINS and the Oratory on this prestigious project which will provide a wonderful research resource for scholars and students with an interest in nineteenth century studies."

Newman was a clergyman in the Church of England before converting to Catholicism in 1845. He was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 and died in 1890 at the age of 89. More than 120 years after his death, Newman remains a hugely influential figure. In 2010, he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI, the final stage before being declared a saint.

Father Ignatius Harrison, the Provost of the Birmingham Oratory said: "Cardinal Newman is a towering figure of Christian thought, and has had an enduring influence on modern Western intellectual life.

"His long life of ministry and scholarship left a deep mark on the national consciousness of Britain, transforming its ecclesial, devotional, intellectual, and popular identities in ways we are still only beginning to understand.

"Through his prolific and widely influential writings and his example of practical holiness, Newman also left a deep and lasting impression on the non-English-speaking world.

"So this hugely important collection provides a unique record of an influential churchman who is one of the most important voices in recent western European thought."

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