Dr Sumner Braund, John Fell Research Fellow

Research summary

Dr Sumner Braund

Dr Sumner Braund, John Fell Research Fellow

I am fascinated by the personal stories that lie within historical objects.

  • Who made this object?
  • Who used it?
  • Why did they want it?
  • Why did they keep it and to whom did they give it?

My fascination with the connections that people make to real and imagined places and things drives my current and past research.

My doctoral research explored these connections in early medieval England. I investigated the ways in which monks and nuns established vibrant links between themselves and the ancient founders of their communities. These links often took a physical shape: the clothing, favourite book, or even bones of the founder were carefully preserved so that the community could maintain a strong identity by remaining connected to its past.

My current research brings this interest forward in time and to new communities. On the Finding and Founding Project, I am investigating the personal stories that underlie the provenance of the History of Science Museum’s founding collection.

Over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the museum’s founder, Lewis Evans, amassed an incredible collection of rare and historically significant scientific instruments from the Islamic world.

Why did he want them — and how did he acquire them?



Sumner Braund became John Fell Research Fellow at the History of Science Museum in 2022.

She previously completed her doctorate and master’s degree in History at the University of Oxford.

She holds a BA (Hons) in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto.


Recent publications

  • ‘Dealing the ‘Orient’ in Paris and London at the turn of the century: Strategy and identity amongst antiques dealers’ in preparation for submission to Muquarnas.
  • ‘Meditations for a King? King Alfred, his memory, and the Old English Soliloquies’ in Borderlines XX: Memory and Identity (Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing), 2021.
  • Book review, The Saints: A Short History. By Simon Yarrow. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 2016. xii + 176 pp + 12 b/w figures. £10.99. ISBN 978 0 19 878438 8,’ Early Medieval Europe 26.3 (August 2018): 412-414.