Oxford University – College, Press, and the Oxford English Dictionary

Friday, we went to the University of Oxford, which is perhaps the most prestigious university to exist. I, a mere 3.2 GPA student, felt quite unworthy to be there, but it was absolutely incredible.

We started our journey with a tour of Christ College, which is quite historical (as is the whole university). Christ College specifically teaches religious studies, and films like Harry Potter and The Golden Compass have been filmed there, as well.

Scenes from Harry Potter filmed at Christ College.

Everything here is so old and full of history, it’s incredible.

Inspiration for the Great Hall from Harry Potter.


After our tour, we went to Oxford University Press to learn about the history of publishing and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The press is famous for being the first to have ever printed a book, which is quite remarkable. Although they no longer print in-house, the press serves as a publishing company now, and they also help expand literacy across the globe. They have programs to teach children how to read, which I love.

Fun fact: Uppercase and lowercase got their names because capital letters were stored in cases above the lower ones!

We also learned that each year, 1800 new words are added to the OED. Anyone can submit a word to be added to the dictionary, and it then goes through evaluations to determine if it’s used enough (which would be five times in writing by different publications) to be added.

The first dictionary took decades to be compiled, and it took many people to complete it. It was a very expensive process, as well. J.R.R. Tolkien also worked on the dictionary! Super neat.

We also saw an iron printing press, which is evidently quite hard to use, as its heavy. Printers would work in teams of two for 11-hour shifts printing. One would load the ink on the paper, and the other would pull the levers to press the ink to the paper. Because the shifts were so long, they would switch jobs every hour.

Oxford University Press is a huge birthplace to modern media, and exploring it firsthand was an experience like no other.


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