History and Society

The University of Canterbury and Canterbury Museum collections offer a wide selection of windows onto history and society. Geographically and chronologically, these can be surprisingly wide-ranging. Amongst the two collections are objects offering insights into the history of the Roman Near East, royal manuscripts from medieval England, books from Renaissance Italy and the Merrie Midgets Marionette Theatre from twentieth-century Christchurch.

Alongside such glimpses into a sometimes distant, sometimes strange past, the collections include works such as the seventeenth-century King James Bible brought to Canterbury by the early European settlers. This Bible has as much to tell us about early Cantabrian society as the Norway rat that accompanied it on its voyage. While Bibles, whether they are the King James version or a fine example of fifteenth-century printing from L├╝beck, may tell us of the aspirations of the first settlers, a mid-nineteenth-century family tree made from human hair can add the perspective of a single settler family. The latter reminds us that history and society are always more than simply the sum of items in any collection.


  • University of Canterbury contacts
    Chris Jones
    +64 3 364 2289
    History Department, School of Humanities
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800
    Christchurch 8140
    New Zealand
  • Canterbury Museum contacts
    Sarah Murray
    +64 3 366 5000
    Canterbury Museum
    Rolleston Avenue
    Christchurch 8013
    New Zealand