James Arthur Harley 

‘A Well-Documented Life: James Arthur Harley (1873–1943)’,
 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford,
 18 October 2014 – 8 February 2015

A Well-Documented Life was an exhibition produced at the Pitt Rivers Museum in 2014 as a result of my discovery of James Arthur Harley’s personal archives in the hands of a local historian in Shepshed, Leicestershire.   

A Well-Documented Life exhibition pdf 




Apart from the brief information I had been furnished with who was James Arthur Harley and what was his story? Harley’s letters, sermons, speeches, newspaper clippings, qualifications became a focus for my intellectual inquiry. I began to wonder what motivated him? Why did he want to become a priest? How did he succeed? What were his setbacks and failures? How did his vocation reconcile for a better life in a new land with the harsh realities of America racism?  How and why did Michael end up with this suitcase? What secrets did this battered suitcase contain?  I progressed from these broad questions about Harley into a detailed study.  


My research has taken me on a two-and-half-year journey of discovery; following in Harley’s footsteps to absorb audio and visual material visiting the places he lived and studied to write his story - the subject for my forthcoming book - A Scholar and A Statesman.