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The Fowler Collection

Information on the Fowler Collection held at the University of Northampton

Doctor George Fowler

The Man: Dr George Herbert Fowler

The Collection

Dr George Herbert Fowler (1861-1940)

Dr George Herbert Fowler was a professor of Zoology, but after retirement at the age of 48, began to be interested in the conservation of historical records and archives. 

Fowler set up the Bedfordshire Historical Records Association in 1912. The following year, Fowler founded the first County Record Office in Bedfordshire and the whole concept of county archives. He was the first County Archivist and devised an archive classification system still in use today.

Using his scientific background, Fowler taught himself to repair and conserve old documents. He published The Care of County Muniments in 1923 and the collection copy contains Fowler's handwritten manuscript amendments for the second edition.

Fowler wrote over 50 humorous limericks to illustrate the proper pronunciation of Bedfordshire place names.

“Said a General staying at Riseley

Who had dined very well but not wisely,

As he laid his poor head in a strawberry bed 

'Pray call me at seven precisely'”

Dr George Herbert Fowler

The Collection

The Fowler Collection is the personal research collection of Dr George Herbert Fowler. It contains approximately 3000 books, journals and pamphlets, reflecting the myriad interests of Dr Fowler, but chiefly related to published secondary sources for the study of history, especially the Mediaeval period, local history, and genealogy.

The collection is also strong on archive administration and records conservation.

The collection was bequeathed to the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1940 and loaned by them to the University of Northampton in 2004.

The collection is searchable via NELSON and there is also a printed list. The collection is located in the Learning Hub, with the more valuable items kept in Special Collections.

Collection highlights

  • The Care of County Muniments (1923)
  • Historical Society Records
  • Domesday
  • A Collection of all the Statutes now in use (1670)
  • Church history
  • Place names
  • Texts and calendars
  • Archaeology
  • Pipe rolls


Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service (2004) Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service Newsletter63, pp.1-2.

Bell, P. and Stitt, F. (2002) George Herbert Fowler and County Records. Journal of the Society of Archivists23(2), pp.249-263.

Fordham, H. (1927) The earliest tables of the highways of England and Wales 1541-1561. London: Oxford University Press.

Cox, J.C. (1898) The records of the Borough of Northampton, Vol. 2. London: Elliot Stock.

Paris, M. (1882) Chronica Majora, Vol. VI Additamenta. London: Longman.

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