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JCG archivists help bring historic books home after nearly eight decades

General | Student

Student archivists from Jersey College for Girls have helped return a bring a series of books dating back to 1899 back to Guernsey, where their original owner was from. 

The books had been given to Constance Le Marinel, a student at Guernsey Ladies College, as awards for good work in various subjects such as wood carving, arithmetic, physics and French to name a few. 

Book plates were signed by the Principal of Guernsey Ladies’ College, as well as Thomas Guille and Frederick Allès, the founders of Guernsey’s Guille-Allès Library.

At the time, the books would have been considered valuable teaching resources and reading material, but it is not clear whether they ever made it to the Library. It seems more likely that the beautiful books were considered too precious and have been boxed ever since.

Sometime after Constance’s death in 1938, the books were donated by her brother, Reverend Matthew Lle Marinel, who used to visit Jersey Ladies’ College to offer religious instruction. The actual donation date is not recorded but it is believed it was around sometime in the late 1940s.

After nearly eight decades, the books will be going home thanks to the work of Tracy Peters, JCG’s Librarian and Archivist, and her helpers, Holly in Year 13 and Ella in Year 10. 

Mrs Peters said: “During my time as Archivist at JCG, I have, every now and then, peeped into boxes and uncovered forgotten items. These books are beautiful and really needed a permanent home, pertaining to their history. I was delighted when, following advice from the Jersey library, I contacted Guernsey library to find them happy to receive books with bookplates signed by their founders. Luckily, Constance appears to have been a brilliant student and there were enough books to be able to reunite those signed by their Principal with Guernsey Ladies College too.”

Cornelia James, Chief Librarian at Guille-Alles Library, commented: “We’re extremely grateful to Jersey College for Girls for bringing the existence of these beautiful books to our attention, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming them back home to our Library. It’s particularly poignant for us to know that many of them were signed by our founders, Thomas Guille and Frederick Allès. 

“Last year we celebrated the Library’s 140th anniversary with a major exhibition that brought to life Guille and Allès’s story – their childhood journey to New York, and their lifelong dream to start a library in Guernsey. They were very selective about the books they wanted for their library and these particular volumes were doubtless chosen with care, so I’m sure that they would be pleased to see them coming back home where they belong. 

“We’re thankful for the work of JCG, and in particular their students Holly and Ella, in making this discovery and returning the books to us.”