The Library of the Society of Friends

The Library of the Society of Friends is the library and archive of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (Quakers). It’s responsible for the care and use of one of the largest collections in the world relating to Quaker history, thought and activities.

Its origins lie in the religious controversies of the 17th century. In 1673 a committee of Friends (the Second Day’s Morning Meeting) decided to keep two copies of every book written by Friends, and one of every book written against them. This gathering together of books and pamphlets is the foundation of the Library.

Photo of Norman Penney in Eastern dress

Norman Penney in Eastern dress – new librarian dress code?

When the first librarian (Norman Penney) was appointed in 1901 the books were stored in the Society’s then central offices in Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, along with the archives from the 17th century on – records of Yearly Meeting (the annual Quaker assembly), Meeting for Sufferings (the national executive body) and numerous committees. Penney was a dynamic force in starting to arrange and catalogue these burgeoning collections, which were supplemented by substantial manuscript collections formerly held in private hands.

By the time plans for the present Quaker headquarters on Euston Road were being drawn up in the 1920s, a purpose built library with strong-rooms and reading room were an integral part of the specification.

Today the Library is open to all for research, and has a varied readership of members of the Society of Friends, academic researchers, local and family historians, media researchers and others. One of its strengths (and one of the reasons it’s such a great library to work in) is the way the printed and archival collections complement each other. Users can search across both printed and archive material using the online catalogue, and, like many special libraries, the Library has developed a range of finding aids and biographical, geographic and topical subject files that draw on the different parts of the collections.

Its printed collections now include over 100,000 books, pamphlets, broadsides and other items, and around 2,000 serial titles. While the majority are Quaker publications, there are significant supporting collections, including works on Quaker history and publications in areas where Quakers have been particularly active, such as the peace and anti-slavery movements.

Photo of bound volume of tracts

Bound volume of tracts (Library of the Society of Friends, Vol. 54)

What are the highlights? While other special collections may bring out lavishly illustrated books and gorgeous bindings to show off their holdings, our books are, by and large, distinguished by their sober appearance. They may lack visual sparkle, but book historians and conservators have been known to wax lyrical about some of these more humble exemplars of 17th and 18th century book production and bindings.

This lack of ornament is in keeping with the Quaker testimony of simplicity (exemplified in plainness of dress and speech), but it doesn’t mean there are no visually striking printed items in the collections. One example is George Fox’s Battle-door for teachers & professors to learn singular & plural (1660), a defence of the early Quaker use of “plain speech” (addressing all equally as thee and thou), with section heading pages printed in the shape of a battledore (the paddle shaped alphabet learning boards that succeeded hornbooks).

Anti-slavery campaigners used the power of visual imagery to great effect, in ways that are well known. This image of a plan of a slave ship was a potent way of conveying the real horror and suffering of the trade to a wide audience (read more about this particular copy, bound together with other anti-slavery material, in this post on our Quaker Strongrooms blog). The Library also holds anti-slavery china – cups and saucers bearing the anti-slavery message.

Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck

Plymouth Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck (Plymouth : Trewman and Haydon, printers, [1789?])

The central Quaker archives held by the Library consist of minute books, correspondence, reports and other records. Among them are the Great Books of Sufferings, 44 huge manuscript volumes compiled between 1650 and 1856, recording persecution of Quakers around the country for holding illegal meetings, non-attendance at church, or refusal to pay tithes (read more about them here). These central archives reflect Quaker involvement with wider social movements, like anti-slavery, peace, temperance, war time relief and reconstruction. Take for example the extensive records of the Friends Emergency & War Victims Relief Committee: a project to catalogue and make these more accessible has recently been completed.

WWI relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot

World War I relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot, Pargary (YM/MfS/FEWVRC/PICS/8/4/4)

The Library also holds local London & Middlesex Quaker records dating back to the 17th century – a rich resource for local historians and others (including economic historians, like this PhD student who wrote about her research on the Library’s blog).

A number of other Quaker related bodies have deposited their records in the Library. One of the more substantial archives is that of the Friends Ambulance Unit (the unofficial volunteer ambulance service set up by Quakers in both World Wars to provide alternative wartime service). In preparation for the World War I centenary, the Library has made the F.A.U. 1914-1919 service cards.

Photo of Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose

Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose.

Besides official records, there are considerable collections of personal papers – letters and diaries of well-known figures like George Fox or Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer, recently featured on the £5 note), and others less well-known, such as the travelling minister Abiah Darby of Coalbrookdale (1716-1794), or James Jenkins (1753-1831), illegitimate son of a Quaker, whose Records and recollections provide a sometimes waspish commentary on contemporary Quaker affairs. While the Swarthmore Manuscripts (a substantial body of about 1,400 letters and other documents of early Friends) are considered the “jewel in the crown” for historians of 17th century Quakerism, there are also rich collections of family papers for later periods, such as the Lloyd Papers or the A. Ruth Fry papers, both spanning several centuries.

Photo of Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

The Library’s printed and archival holdings are complemented by its visual collections –  paintings, prints and drawings, and a remarkable photographic collection, including the photographic archives of Quaker relief work from the First World War onwards.

Contributing to Copac is one of the ways we’re making our collections known to wider audiences. For regular highlights, check out our own library blog and Facebook page.

Tabitha Driver
Printed Books Librarian
Library of the Society of Friends

All images copyright the Society of Friends and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World, 2016.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World. John Rylands Library exhibition, 21 January – 21 August 2016.

This fascinating exhibition, housed within the gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library in Manchester, reveals how magic, diabolical witchcraft and ghostly encounters inspired fear and curiosity on an unprecedented scale between the 15th and 18th centuries. With stunning local, European and non-Western examples from Manchester collections, the exhibition offers an exceptionally wide-ranging window onto the supernatural world. Curated by historians Jennifer Spinks and Sasha Handley from the University of Manchester, the exhibition presents rare books, prints, manuscripts and objects that illuminate the roots of our obsession with supernatural powers and reveal a world where the Devil was understood as a very real and present danger in daily life.

The exhibition draws on the collections of the John Rylands Library, the Whitworth Art Gallery and Chetham’s Library which contain many rare books, prints, manuscripts and protective amulets that provide unique perspectives on how early modern people feared, engaged with, and sometimes found pleasure in the supernatural world. The years c.1400- c.1800 coincided with major changes in European society, from scientific developments to religious conflicts to a great increase in the number of printed publications. One of the most important changes was increasing contact with other lands. Although the exhibition focuses principally on Europe, it also includes examples of how some non-Western traditions represented and tapped into powers beyond the everyday.

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).
Pseudo-Michael Scot. Franconia, Germany, late 16th century (Latin MS 105).

The Compendium was attributed to the astrologer Michael Scot, whose infamy as a supposed magician was noted even by the famous Italian poet Dante. Intriguingly, the Scot manuscript contained strange elements of Arabic artifice. What appears to be a copy of an earlier spell, transcribed into corrupted or fake Arabic, was included as a precursor to its Latin ‘translation’. This was evidently designed to lend a sense of mystery as well as credibility to the conjurations contained within the book.

Shahnama (Book of Kings).

Shahnama (Book of Kings). Abu’l Qasim Firdousi (‘Ferdowsi’) and unknown artist. Western India, mid 15th century (Persian MS 9).

The Shahnama (Book of Kings) was an epic poem that detailed Persian history from the beginning of the world to the arrival of Islam. It appeared in many manuscript editions and generated a vibrant artistic tradition. The story of Rustam’s fourth task saw the hero enter a land populated by demons and sorcerers, where he was approached by a witch in the guise of a beautiful young woman. Realising her true nature when she recoiled at hearing the name of God, Rustam ordered her to ‘speak and show thy proper favour’. Returning to her hideous, wrinkled appearance, she was quickly put to the sword.



The Art of Dying was designed to help people achieve a good death. Images of poor deathbed performances (listed as faithlessness, despair, impatience, vainglory and avarice) were contrasted with those showing how the dying person should behave (with faith, hope, patience, humility and worldly detachment). ‘The Temptation to Avarice’ scene, for example, shows a group of demons pointing to the dying man’s possessions and loved ones, reminding him of the things he will soon leave behind.

Ars moriendi (Art of Dying)

Ars moriendi (Art of Dying) Unknown author and artist. Strasbourg, France, c. 1475 (Blockbook collection 10123).

For further details and an online copy of the exhibition booklet, written by Jennifer Spinks, Sasha Handley and Postdoctoral Research Associate Stephen Gordon, see:

Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World runs from 21 January – 21 August 2016 at The John Rylands Library, Manchester.

You can also find an interview with the curators about the process of putting the exhibition together on the University of Manchester History blog (

This exhibition has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

AHRC logo

AHRC logo

Julianne Simpson
Rare Books and Maps Manager, Special Collections
University of Manchester Library

All images copyright The John Rylands Library, Manchester and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

From medical handbooks to the Mediterranean: Special Collections at King’s College London

Katie Sambrook, Head of Special Collections at King’s College London, tells us about the collections in her charge and how she and her colleagues are promoting them.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

The Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s College London holds over 180,000 items – mainly printed books, periodicals and pamphlets, but also maps, manuscripts and photographs – in a landmark Victorian building in central London. The grade 2* listed edifice, which also houses the Maughan Library (the university’s largest library), served until the 1990s as the Public Record Office, the home of the nation’s documentary heritage, so its current purpose, as a repository of special collections of international importance, is very much in keeping with that for which it was originally constructed.

Photograph of Maughan Library, Chancery Lane (KCL), taken in winter.

Maughan Library Chancery Lane taken in winter. Part of the Strand Campus of King’s College London.

Our special collections

For me perhaps the most attractive aspect of our special collections, and one which helps to make my role so rewarding, is their wide variety. Ranging in date from the 15th century to the present day and spanning the humanities, social sciences and sciences, our special collections provide endless scope for research, teaching and public engagement.

Image of Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head.

Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head. Manchester Evening Chronicle household medical adviser, 1900.

Medicine is a notable strength; King’s has a long and rich tradition in this area, incorporating not only the foundation of King’s College Hospital in 1840 but the merger in the 1990s with two far older institutions of medical education and training, St Thomas’s Hospital (originally a medieval foundation) and Guy’s Hospital, founded in 1721.  All these institutions assembled large and important collections of rare and historical medical books, supplemented in psychiatry by that of another institution with which King’s merged in the 1990s, the Institute of Psychiatry.  In total we hold over 20,000 rare books and journals in the medical sciences, one of the most significant such collections in a UK university library.  To help promote their riches, we are a partner in the Jisc / Wellcome Trust-funded digitisation project, the UK Medical Heritage Library, which aims to digitise 15 million pages of 19th and early 20th century medical books. And we’re adding to our medical collections too, seeking out items that fill gaps in our holdings, like this attractively bound household medical handbook, for example.

Image of a rock warbler, 1822.

A rock warbler hunting an insect as depicted in John William Lewin’s ‘A natural history of the birds of New South Wales’, London, 1822.

Perhaps the most important of all our special collections – and it’s certainly the largest –is the FCO Historical Collection, the former library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which was transferred to King’s in 2007. Spanning 500 years of history and every corner of the world, this magnificent collection encompasses such themes as travel and exploration, war, peace and diplomacy, trade and transport, the growth and abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the rise, rule and decline of empires and the creation of the Commonwealth.  Many items in the collection are rare; some are unrecorded elsewhere. Items range from sumptuously produced works, such as this early study of the bird life of New South Wales, to cheaply produced but no less interesting pamphlets and magazines, such as the rare Falkland Islands magazine, which documents daily life on the islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Image of Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, 1901.

Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, no. 6, Vol. XIII, October 1901.

Promoting our special collections

I see the active promotion of our special collections, both within King’s and to the wider world, as an essential part of our role.  Our central London location within a historic building that is a destination in its own right makes public exhibitions an obvious promotional tool for us, and it’s one in which we consequently invest a good deal of effort. We run three public exhibitions a year; they are free to visit and attract visitors from all around the world.  Our current exhibition is called West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967, a theme we chose because it plays to the strengths of the FCO Historical Collection, has a compelling narrative with topical resonance and, not least, gives us scope to display some visually attractive and intriguing items.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950's.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950’s, including a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart checking documents at the frontier with Spain and Spanish workmen returning home after a day’s work. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1958.

The exhibition runs until 7 May and you will find full details on our exhibitions web page.

Not everyone can visit our exhibitions, of course, so we also ensure that we make as many of our past exhibitions as we can available in online form. In the last year we’ve explored such topics as the Battle of Waterloo and the fight against infectious disease in both physical and digital form.

One of the characteristics of special collections – their capacity to foster cross-disciplinary research – is closely aligned to King’s College London’s strength in imaginative interdisciplinarity in research and teaching, and this ties in with another way in which we seek to promote use of our collections, by way of seminars with our academic colleagues, introducing them and their students to the vast array of material available to them. Most of the seminars we run are for King’s students, of course – this term we’re running seminars for English Literature and Medicine undergraduates, to give just two examples – but we can also provide this service for staff and students of other institutions; we’ve developed a successful pair of seminars for the MA in African Studies course at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Some seminars are introductory in nature, while others are more in-depth, requiring students to undertake a sustained piece of work on an item or items in our special collections.  I’m interested in developing creative partnerships with academic colleagues and departments further and would like to explore how we can best foster fuller exploitation of the potential of our special collections to generate new research, perhaps by fellowships, perhaps by internships or perhaps by some other means – we have plenty of ideas and this is an area we’re hoping to focus on in the next few years.

Katie Sambrook
Head of Special Collections
Library Services
King’s College London

All images copyright the King’s College London Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Celebration of Christmas

Image from "The Coming of Father Christmas", 1894

Nativity image from “The Coming of Father Christmas”, 1894. British Library images.

For Christmas, we’re highlighting a selection of seasonal books, music and other material from some of our contributing libraries.

Carols and Music

In amongst the many works of Christmas Carols on Copac I’ve picked out a few that particularly appealed.

Chetham’s Library and the National Library of Scotland hold a song sheet entitled ‘The twelve good joys of Mary: a carol, for the twelve days of Christmas’ (also known by the first line ‘First good joy that Mary had’). This is believed to have been printed by George Angus (1783-1829), who was active in Newcastle between 1813 and 1825:

Records on Copac

The National Trust Libraries hold the book ‘Choice carols for Christmas holydays’. Changing tastes are reflected within this book that contains some carols still familiar today but others rather less so. Published in England in c.1800, songs include: ‘God rest you merry gentlemen’, ‘In friendly love and unity’, ‘Upon the 25th. of December’ and ‘When bloody Herod reigned king’:

Records on Copac

The Royal Academy of Music’s collection includes ‘Rumanian folk music. Vol.4 Carols and Christmas music (Colinde)’ by Bela Bartok, published in The Hague in 1975. This volume was formerly owned by the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999):

Record on Copac

Children’s Books

First published in 1785 is the wonderfully named ‘Christmas tales: for the amusement and instruction of young ladies and gentlemen in winter evenings’ by Solomon Sobersides. Copies printed and sold by J. Marshall and Co. “… ordered all the booksellers, both in town and country, to make a present of it to good girls and boys, they paying six-pence only to defray the expences of binding”.

Libraries holding this book include Cambridge University (Special Collections), V & A National Art Library and York University:

Records on Copac

Image of reindeer pulling children in sledges

Image: Reindeer pulling children in sledges (1803). Wellcome Library, London. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

‘The home of Santa Claus : a story of Leslie Gordon’s visit to Father Christmas, and of the strange sights he beheld in the town of toys’ by George A. Best was published in 1900 and illustrated from photographs by Arthur Ullyett. Holding libraries include Oxford University and Liverpool University:

Records on Copac

Published around 1780-1800, ‘Mirth without mischief’, contains the English Folk song ‘The twelve days of Christmas’. It also includes the intriguing sounding ‘play of the gaping-wide-mouthed-wadling frog’. Libraries holding this illustrated children’s book include the British Library, Edinburgh University and Leeds University:

Records on Copac

Classic Christmas stories

Photo of a Christmas tree made of books

Image ‘Bibliojela’ (a Christmas tree made of books) by ToopaGia.

A Christmas Carol

Published in to critical acclaim in 1843 as ‘A Christmas carol: In prose. Being a ghost story of Christmas’, we follow the transformation of Scrooge’s character through his chilling encounters with the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Libraries holding the first edition of this well-loved story by Charles Dickens include City of London, Guildhall Library and University of London, Senate House Libraries:

Records on Copac

The Night Before Christmas

This magical poem was first published c.1870 as ‘Santa Claus: or, The night before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore in New York. Also known as ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, it inspired many Christmas traditions and popular culture An early edition is held by Trinity College Dublin Library:

Record on Copac

***Happy Christmas from the Copac team!***

Exhibition at Middle Temple Library: 250 years of Blackstone’s Commentaries

Renae Satterley, Deputy Librarian at Middle Temple Library, writes about their forthcoming exhibition.

Photo of Unidentified bookplate found in the second copy of the second edition of the Commentaries (shelfmark BAY L551)

Unidentified bookplate found in the second copy of the second edition of the Commentaries (shelfmark BAY L551)

Middle Temple Library will be hosting an exhibition from Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the publication of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. This exhibition was curated by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library, and Wilfrid Prest, Professor Emeritus of History and Law at the University of Adelaide.

Image: 4.A colour plate from The Comic Blackstone

A colour plate from The Comic Blackstone

The exhibition was first shown at Yale from March to June 2015. It will be on display at Middle Temple Library from September to November, after which it will be on display at the Sir John Salmond Law Library at the University of Adelaide from December 2015 to January 2016.

The exhibition features over 40 items from Yale’s Law Library collection which depict the origins of the Commentaries, its publishing success and its impact on the common law system and more broadly on English and American society. The items include a volume annotated by one of Blackstone’s students, a legal treatise with Blackstone’s marginalia, the first English editions of the Commentaries, early Irish and American pirated editions, abridgments, teaching aids, student manuscripts, critiques, translations (into French, German, Italian, and Chinese), and a 1963 liquor advertisement.

Image: Portrait of Blackstone

Portrait of Blackstone

Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) was a member of Middle Temple, admitted 20 November 1741, called to the Bar 28 November 1746 and made a Bencher (i.e. senior member of the Inn) on 1 May 1761. Sir William was Vinerian Professor of the Law of England at Oxford in 1758. Although he was “particularly fond of architecture and poetry” upon entering Middle Temple he gave up his first love to concentrate on the study of law. While Vinerian Professor, he presented a course of lectures which later became the foundation of the Commentaries.

The Commentaries was first printed in four volumes in 1765-9, later going through thirteen English editions in the 18th century alone, while also being published in Dublin and Philadelphia. The book continues to be published up to this day. According to his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, the “tortuous” complexities of the common law “were outlined in a manner at once authoritative, clear, elegant, and even engaging” and the Commentaries “would become the most celebrated, widely circulated, and influential law book ever published in the English language.”

Image: Bookplate of Sir William Blackstone

Bookplate of Sir William Blackstone

In 1759 Sir William donated his own copy of The Great charter and Charter of the forest to Middle Temple Library. The library also holds his personal copy (with bookplate) of Thomas Wentworth’s The office and duty of executors. Unfortunately the latter is damaged, with the title page missing, and was thus mis-catalogued in our collection until recently.

While the library is not open to members of the public, the exhibition can be viewed by making an appointment with the Deputy Librarian ( The library is also participating in the event ‘Open House London: Revealing Magna Carta’ on 19 and 20 September where Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Temple Church and the Royal Courts of Justice will be open to the public. Full details on this event are available at:

The exhibition catalogue, which was published with the support of William S. Hein & Co., is available to download for free at: Mark S Weiner has created a video interview with Professor Wilfrid Prest which can be viewed here:

Further information about Yale Law Library’s rare books can be found here: Information about the Law Library at the University of Adelaide can be found here:

Last but not least, information about Middle Temple Library can be found at:

Renae Satterley is Deputy Librarian at Middle Temple Library and has been working at the library since January 2006, when she was hired as Rare Books Librarian. She completed her MLIS at McGill University in 2004 and worked at Emmanuel College Cambridge from 2004-2005. She is currently Chair of CILIP’s Library & Information History Group and has written on the history of Robert Ashley’s (1565-1641) library.

Middle East collections at the University of Exeter

Afzal Hasan, Subject Specialist Librarian for Arabic and Islamic Studies
at the University of Exeter, explains his role and describes their Middle East collections.

I look after the Middle East, Politics and Security Studies Collections at the University of Exeter. My official role is Academic Support Consultant – or Subject Librarian. This is a fairly specialist role given the languages used: Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Turkish as well as the familiar western languages. I’ve been doing this since 2010, employed initially as the Mid-East Librarian – previously having volunteered at the Bodleian, and having worked at British Councils in the Middle East as a teacher.

Exeter is a major centre in the UK for Arabic & Islamic Studies with Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies [IAIS] and related Area Studies eg Kurdish Studies.

Photo of Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) Building

Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) Building

Besides a growing and comprehensive modern collection on the Middle East especially given the world of today, I will mention a collection which retains uniqueness. At first IAIS contained the nationally recognised Arab World Documentation Unit [AWDU] but now this has relocated to the Old Library. On the collections in AWDU I wrote the following description on our webpages:

The Arab World Documentation Unit – AWDU – located [now] in the Research Commons Old Library provides unique collections, totalling over 100,000 items on Arab Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, United Arab Emirates as well as the wider Arab world including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. AWDU collects mainly documentary reference material such as statistical data, country reports, official publications, political opposition newsletters and Pan-Arab literature. The Unit holds substantial archival, historical and sociological material from the mid-18th century onwards, such as the Bombay Diaries (held in Special Collections – 16,000 selected photocopied pages from 1778 to 1820) which were originally the ledgers of the Secret & Political Department in Bombay, contents guide is here, as well as microfilms from British, American, Indian, French and Portuguese government archives and around 500 volumes of reproduced documents from the British Public Records Office published by Archive Editions. There are also important collections of private papers and diaries such as the valuable Uri Davis collection – containing 2600 volumes of books, 600 pamphlets and 400 volumes/boxes of periodicals mainly dealing with the Arab-Israeli Conflict, as well as microfiche holdings of documents on Palestine during the Mandate period and after 1948.

Photo of Sir William Luce

Sir William Luce

The emphasis on the Mid East gulf you’ll note is a particular strength. The collection of private and personal papers include those of Sir Charles Belgrave (1894-1969), Advisor to the Rulers of Bahrain, 1926-57. Sir William Luce (1907-77), British Governor of Aden, 1956-60; Political Resident in the Gulf, 1961-6; British Special Representative for Gulf Affairs (in charge of Britain’s withdrawal from the Gulf), 1966-72.

The main Library – the Forum Library contains the modern bulk of Middle East material as well as Politics, and Security Studies.

Image of Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon - Cover

Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon, Vol I – Cover

Being the Arabist that I am, I should say my favourite item in all of the collections must be Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon – a work of 30 years’ superlative scholarship. It’s been my constant companion since my undergraduate days. The Islamic Texts Society brought out a superb two volume edition in 1984.

For me, what’s really exciting is the University of Exeter’s Digital First Strategy, the Open Access Movement, the events and dynamics taking place in the world, internationalisation strategy, and how the Library continues to play its part.

Afzal Hasan MCLIP
Librarian: Arabic | Politics | Security Studies
University of Exeter

Explore Copac records for Arabic language materials at the University of Exeter Library.

All images copyright the University of Exeter Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

The Aldine Collection at University of Manchester

2015 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the world’s most famous commercial printer, the Italian Aldus Manutius (1449-1515) who brought the Greek and Roman classics to the masses through the new technology of printing, introduced the world to italic type, and pioneered the pocket format book we now take for granted. Merchants of Print: from Venice to Manchester celebrates the legacy of Aldus as an innovative scholar-businessman who founded the Aldine Press in Venice at the end of the fifteenth century and sought to produce critical editions of the classical authors. It also examines how such a rich collection was amassed in a city more famous for its textiles than its texts, more associated with mills than libraries.

Old Aldine Room, The John Rylands Library

Old Aldine Room, The John Rylands Library

New storage, library extension 2007

New storage, library extension 2007

The John Rylands Library has held, since its inception, a discrete collection of Aldines once housed in an octagonal room in one of the towers at the front of the building. This collection arrived at the Rylands as part of the outstanding library of George John 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834), which was purchased from his grandson, the 5th Earl, by Mrs Rylands in 1892. After the construction of a new extension which opened in 2007, the Aldine collection – along with the incunabula and other significant collections, were moved into the modern store. Following a bequest in 2010, the library began a project to reorganise, rehouse and recatalogue the collection. This has included incorporating non Spencer copies, previously dispersed elsewhere in the collections, bringing the total to 2,000 volumes which represents about 1200 separate editions.

The collection has always been inclusive, going beyond editions printed by Aldus, his son Paolo and grandson Aldus to include other editions associated with the press (such as some by his in-laws, the Torresani) and also editions identified as counterfeits. It has been reorganised following the arrangement used by the published catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine Collection at UCLA.   At the end of the project each item has a detailed description on the library catalogue, following internationally recognised standards for rare books cataloguing, including information on editors, translators, inscriptions, annotations, previous owners, bindings and reference to the standard bibliographies (Renouard and Ahmanson-Murphy).

Thus, the exhibition is able to commemorate not only the 500th anniversary of Aldus’s death, but also celebrate the end of almost five years work on the collection. Attention in the past has mostly been focussed on the high spots, of which there are many. One example is the first Italian work published in the Aldine octavo series – ‘Le cose volgari’ by Petrarch in 1501. The collection includes two copies, one displays the arms of the editor, Pietro Bembo and also has a long trail of provenance – almost complete from publication to the present day. It moved from Venice to Vienna, Leiden, Rome, Naples, London, Northamptonshire and finally to Manchester. The second copy has the arms of the Barbarigo family, who had provided financial support for the press. Lord Spencer briefly owned another copy decorated by his wife Lavinia with a gem engraved by Nathaniel Marchant. He presented this to his fellow bibliophile Thomas Grenville in 1796. It is now in the British Library. All three are parchment copies.

Image of the arms of Pietro Bembo

Petrarca, Le cose volgari (1501). Arms of Pietro Bembo

Image of the arms of Barbarigo family

Petrarca, Le cose volgari (1501). Arms of Barbarigo family

The systematic recataloguing to include binding and provenance information for all copies has uncovered the great depths of the collection and especially in relation to the existence of multiple copies of editions. This particular strength provides a major resource for the study of the distribution and impact of a single press, and offers a microcosm for the history of collecting and book collectors over five centuries. The project has opened up possibilities for new research, for example on collectors, bindings, extremely rare editions such as a group published by Paolo Manuzio for the Accademia Veneziana. It provided impetus for our collaboration with the University of York on the identification of animal species of parchment, based on the outstanding examples printed in parchment in the collection. We see this as an ongoing process, with many questions and puzzles still unanswered.

The expansion of the collection beyond the core gathered together by Spencer has provided the opportunity to highlight other collectors and drawn attention to the literary and educational cultures of nineteenth century Manchester and individual figures such as Richard Copley Christie, Bishop James Prince Lee, Joseph Thompson, David Lloyd Roberts and Walter Bullock.

Image of Baldassare Castiglione, Il Libro Cortegiano (1541).

Baldassare Castiglione, Il Libro Cortegiano (1541). Annotations of Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton. Annotations of Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton

We will continue to add to the collection when we can, attempting to fill the gaps of missing editions and variant issues – a very difficult task, but mostly focussing on adding other interesting copies. This copy of the 1541 edition of Castiglione’s Courtier was purchased at the Kenneth Rapoport sale in October 2012. There are extensive annotations in this copy by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton (1540-1614). From 1667 to 1873 it was in the library of the Royal Society and more recently the book was owned by the Oxford physician and bibliophile Bent Juel-Jensen.

Julianne Simpson
Rare Books and Maps Collections Manager,
Special Collections,
John Rylands Library

Explore Copac records for the Aldine collection at the University of Manchester

All images copyright the John Rylands Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Chapter Library

Dr Clare Rider, Archivist and Chapter Librarian, writes about the collections at the Chapter Library, St George’s Chapel.

The College of St George, comprising St George’s Chapel and surrounding buildings, occupies the lower ward of Windsor Castle.  Founded in 1348 by King Edward III as a collegiate religious institution, its purpose was to act as the spiritual counterpart of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in Britain. The library has been an integral part of the life of the College from its foundation, serving the Dean and Canons who make up the Windsor Chapter.

Grail roof boss, St George's Chapel Library

Roof boss in medieval library room

An introduction to the medieval library and a survey of the documentary sources for its study are the subject of a new St George’s Chapel monograph by Dr James Willoughby, published at the end of 2014.   Dr Willoughby describes how the first books were kept chained to desks in the Chapel. On the orders of Edward IV, who donated a number of books to the College, a separate library was built in the 1480s above the Dean’s Cloister to house the growing number of volumes. Despite the loss of seventy of its manuscript books in 1612, donated to Sir Thomas Bodley for his new library in Oxford where they continue to reside, the library’s holdings continued to expand.

Vicars’ Hall in use as Chapter Library

Vicars’ Hall in use as Chapter Library

In 1692 the books were removed to the Vicars’ Hall, where they remained for three centuries as a working library, augmented by later acquisitions until, in 1947, the newly formed Library Committee decided to convert the Chapter Library into a ‘museum–library’,  arranging for the sale of its post-1692 publications. A few eighteenth and nineteenth century volumes escaped the cull and a small number of additions have been made to the rare-book collection since then.  However, the vast majority of the library’s collection of approximately 6,000 rare-books, dates from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, forming a splendid sequence from the main English and

Illustration of a scholar at a lectern from Wynkyn de Worde’s The crafte to lyve well and to dye well (1505)

Illustration of a scholar at a lectern from Wynkyn de Worde’s The crafte to lyve well and to dye well (1505)

and European printing presses of the time. The volumes cover a wide range of subjects:  theology, ecclesiastical and political history, classics, geography, topography, navigation, bibliography, mathematics and medicine. The nine incunables in the collection include a fine edition of Caxton’s The mirrour of the world (1481), and a beautifully illustrated copy of The crafte to lyve well and to dye well printed by Wynkyn de Worde (1505).

Image of Typus Cosmographicus Universali

Typus Cosmographicus Universali by Sebastian Munster (left-side)

Amongst the most interesting of the non-theological holdings is the rich collection of sixteenth and seventeenth century topographical and navigational works and atlases including all four parts of Sir Robert Dudley’s Dell’arcano del mare (1606), a fine edition of John Speed’s The theatre of the empire of Great-Britain (1676), Mercator’s Atlas siue Cosmographicae (1606), Jan Blaeu’s Atlas maior (1662) and Moses Pitt’s The English atlas (1680-1683).  One of the earliest published world maps, Typus Cosmographicus Universali by Sebastian Munster (1488-1552), is included (in two parts) in the 1555 edition of Simon Grynaeus’ Nouus orbis regionum which also forms part of this collection. With its lively depictions of cannibals, winged serpents, elephants, and monsters, and its curious topographical interpretation of North America (labelled as the land of Cuba), it makes a fascinating study.

Image of page from volume of Papal scrutiny papers, 1676

Page from volume of Papal scrutiny papers, 1676

An intriguing eighteenth century addition to the Chapter Library was the donation by Canon Walter Harte of a bound volume entitled ‘The Scrutiny at the Conclave held at Rome in the year 1676, when Cardinal Odescalchi was chosen Pope (Innocent XI)’. The volume, which Canon Harte purchased in Italy, contains daily scrutiny papers (printed lists of cardinals with manuscript annotations recording number of votes for each on a daily basis) from the Papal Conclave held in the Vatican from 4 September to 21 September 1676, ending with an engraving of Odescalchi in his new role as Pope. The Apostolic Constitution governing papal elections requires all notes as well as ballot papers to be burnt in order to maintain secrecy. These papers, presumably smuggled out of the Vatican for the antiquarian market in Rome, offer a unique insight into an important moment in the Roman Catholic Church.

Photo of Vicars’ Hall with entrance to Undercroft

Vicars’ Hall with entrance to Undercroft

In 1999, the rare-books moved down into the Vicars’ Hall Undercroft, which had been converted into an archives and library repository with the assistance of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The library collections are open to the public for research without charge (by prior appointment) and the Archives and Chapter Library welcomes group visits, donations from which contribute to the library conservation fund. The introduction of a successful Adopt-a-Book scheme in 1998, together with charitable grants and donations, has enabled the professional restoration of over six hundred rare-books since 1998.  We are delighted that the library’s catalogue is now included in Copac which has assisted in opening up the collection to a wider audience.

You can see the full St George’s Chapel collection here on Copac. Search within the collection to view details of individual items.

For more information about the Archives and Chapter Library, please visit our website:

Published catalogues and guides to the Chapter Library

J. Callard, A Catalogue of Printed Books (Pre-1751) in the Library of St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle Historical Monographs relating to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle no.15 (Windsor, 1976)

J. Willoughby, The Medieval Library of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle: Documentary Sources, Historical Monographs relating to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle no.19 (Windsor, 2014)

All images St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.


Special Collections at York Minster Library and the University of York Library

Sarah Griffin, Special collections and York Minster Librarian, talks about
the Special collections at the Cathedral and the University.

I was appointed to the post of Special collections and York Minster Librarian in 2010 following a partnership agreement between the University of York and the Chapter of York Minster.  The university provides all library staff, and technological support through the cataloguing and circulation modules of the library management system. In return university users get free access to the Minster library collections, we run induction tours for students and we host seminars for groups using the books.

The Minster library is the largest cathedral library in England holding around 120,000 items. As well as a substantial collection of early printed books, including 130 incunabula, the library has a modern reference and lending collection. The bulk of the historic library is housed in a 13th-century building to the north of the Minster.Image of Upper Hall of the Old Palace

The Upper Hall of the Old Palace. Image courtesy of the Chapter of York.

Cathedrals libraries are known for their broad and diverse collections and York is no exception. Subjects include travel, botany, science, medicine and, of course, theology.  We attract students of medieval studies, church architecture especially stained glass, and church history. My favourite part has to be the Yorkshire collection which was donated in 1890.

It came from Edward Hailstone, a solicitor from Bradford, who thought public libraries were ‘spoilators of books’ and would not countenance leaving his collection to them. Luckily that meant they came to the Minster where they now occupy a large proportion of our special collections room. They include everything from playbills, to civil war tracts, to children’s books, to local printing; the list is endless. Choosing a favourite item is hard as I have a new favourite every week.  However here is a constant much loved item, a commemorative handbill produced by Thomas Gent who set up his printing press on the frozen river Ouse in 1740.

Image of Verses on the frozen River Ouse, 1740

Verses on the frozen River Ouse, 1740. Image courtesy of the Chapter of York

Thomas Gent was a York printer from 1724 until his death in 1778 with a great line in blarney. He wrote an autobiography which is still fantastic reading although best taken with a big pinch of salt. What he was very good at was writing histories of Yorkshire towns. His books on York, Ripon and Hull contain information not found elsewhere and appear to have been based on first hand research and observation. The Minster library has almost all of Gent’s publications and would like to complete the collection in the future.

At the Minster I battle against the same things as many rare book librarians, namely looking after a collection in a historic building with all the environmental issues that entails, and achieving objectives with limited resources. In fairness big stone buildings do actually control temperature and humidity fairly well but dust and pest control are on-going problems. We suffer every year from a plague of ladybirds that come into the building through poorly fitting windows and promptly drop dead. It can be very disconcerting for readers to find themselves in the middle of a sea of ladybird corpses!

So that’s my first hat dealt with, I am also responsible for the special collections at the university. In the main these are printed books as archives are housed in and curated by the Borthwick Institute for Archives situated on campus. It is a collection of collections, comprising of around 20,000 items. Highlights are the books of Hugo Dyson, one of the Inklings, a group that included JRR Tolkien and C S Lewis; the Raymond Burton Yorkshire Collection; two Yorkshire parish libraries; two provincial medical society collections and much much more. I have got a definite favourite here though. It’s a scrapbook from 1819 produced by Laura Hannam.

Image of Scrapbook 1819

Scrapbook by Laura Catherine Hannam 1819. Image courtesy of the University of York

It was donated to the university on its opening in 1963 but there is no more information than that. However looking at the pictures Laura has drawn it is possible to work out that she must have lived in East Kent, and probably on a farm. The pictures are quite crude but so charming. It sits with a small collection of printed children’s books illustrated by Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, and Randolph Caldecott among others.

The area I probably spend most time on is promotion of the collections within both institutions and also to the wider community in York and further afield. This is done through a combination of exhibitions, talks, tours and the use of social media.  At present I am working on producing a treasures booklet which will showcase the unique and distinctive collections at the Minster, the special collections and the Borthwick.  I am also working with a group of academics from English and History to create an exhibition and events celebrating the 600th anniversary of the Minster library.

I am lucky to work in an institution that places great value on its special collections and with the initiatives of bodies such as RLUK in this area I am looking forward to expanding the reach and scope of the collections I curate.

More information on the Minster collections can be found at

For more information on special collections see

Senate House Library, University of London treasures volume

Dr Karen Attar, Rare Books Librarian at Senate House Library and author of numerous articles about the Library and its holdings, talks about the Library’s recently published volume of treasures.

(see Senate House Library, University of London, ed. by Christopher Pressler and Karen Attar (London: Scala, 2012) View on Copac)

In November 2012 Senate House Library, University of London, produced a treasures volume featuring a brief history of the Library and sixty highlights from its special collections. The publication is a landmark. The treasures volume is by no means the first publication to appear about Senate House Library. Its first catalogue was published in 1876, the year before the Library opened. Numerous catalogues have followed, culminating in the five-volume short-title Catalogue of the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature (1970-1995), which has provided a standard for economic completeness (viz. “Not in Goldsmiths’” in booksellers’ catalogues). Articles about specific collections or groups of collections have appeared in various academic journals. But the treasures volume published by Scala is the first large-scale publication with lavish illustrations intended for a general audience.

Senate House Library opened as the University of London Library in 1877. Donations had dribbled in from 1838 onwards. The impetus for a University Library came with the acquisition of the University’s first purpose-built accommodation in Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly, in 1870, with a large ground-floor room to double as an examination hall and library. No sooner had the Chancellor appealed for books to fill its empty shelves than Samuel Loyd, Baron Overstone, purchased and gave the library of the recently deceased mathematician and mathematical historian Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871). This comprised over 3,500 titles, mainly to do with the various branches of mathematics (including astronomy) and its history: a collection which was praised at the time and which, over 120 years later in 1996, Adrian Rice called ‘one of the finest accumulations of books on the history of mathematics in the country’.

Obvious treasures included the first five printed editions of Euclid, first editions of Newton’s Principia and Opticks, and the first edition of Copernicus’s  De Revolutionibus, this last individualised by De Mogan’s annotations; also noteworthy were runs of popular textbooks, such as Cocker’s Arithmetic and Francis Walkingame’s The Tutor’s Assistant. De Morgan’s notes, often humorous and sometimes shedding light on the history of mathematics, enhanced a significant minority of the books: a feature noted as adding to their value even at the time of De Morgan’s death, and one which has gained significance in recent years with the general boom in the history of reading and provenance research. The collection was catalogued online, with help from the Vice-Chancellor’s Development Fund of the University of London, in 2004-6. The iconic 1482 editio princeps of Euclid’s Elements is by no means a rare book, with 41 copies recorded on the ISTC for the British Isles alone and many more across the world; and De Morgan’s copy of the first edition of Copernicus has received prominence elsewhere, as in David Pearson’s Books as History (2008). For the treasures volume, we therefore regarded these as out of bounds. De Morgan’s own extensive writings included an article ‘On the Earliest Printed Almanacs’ in The Companion to the Almanac for 1845 and a separate monograph The Book of Almanacs (1851), and we represented this area of his interest with the first of several early almanacs from his library, the Lunarium ab Anno 1491 ad Annum 1550 by Bernardus de Granollachs (ISTC ig00340700). An added attraction to featuring this work is that De Morgan’s is the only complete copy known.  We featured De Morgan’s copy of his Formal Logic(1847): interleaved and bound in two volumes, it is full of scribbled notes, newspaper articles and personal letters, with some unpublished diagrams which show his mind at work.

One of Augustus De Morgan’s insertions in his Formal Logic (1847)

One of Augustus De Morgan’s insertions in his Formal Logic (1847)

Arithmetic was a major focus of his collecting and there would have been numerous early printed books from which to choose. Ultimately we selected a late edition of John Bonnycastle’s The Scholar’s Guide to Arithmetic, edited by retired schoolmaster Edwin Colman Tyson (1828). This is a prime example of how small, common textbooks are prone to disappear: the Senate House Library copy is one of only two on Copac. De Morgan’s copy includes his note from 1857: “This book was sent to me by the publisher, meaning to call my attention to it as a class book. It convinced me that a work on demonstrative arithmetic was wanting – and was the book which suggested the existence of the deficiency to supply which I wrote my own arithmetic in 1830” – what a devastating verdict by an experienced and dismissive reviewer!

Classical historian and University of London Vice-Chancellor George Grote died on 18 June 1871, just four months after De Morgan. Grote bequeathed his books to the University. Unlike De Morgan, Grote had not been a conscious collector. But he had been a voracious reader, with money from 1830 onwards to satisfy his wide-ranging literary interests, and his library contained about five thousand titles. Director’s Choice, by Christopher Pressler – our Director’s selection of thirty favourite items from the collections –had come out a few months earlier and snaffled Grote’s collection of French Revolutionary pamphlets, comprising some items which were not only very rare (again, because they were ephemeral) but which epitomised an area of Grote’s interest: according to his 1962 biographer, Martin Lowther Clarke, he was thought to have read everything there was to read about the French Revolution. We made do with the French translation (rare in Britian; the only other copy on Copac is at the British Library) of Grote’s History of Greece and with the second-oldest item in his collection, Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica (1504), in a copy including some hand-colouring and in a contemporary blind-tooled calf binding.

G. Reisch, Margarita Philosophica (1504)

G. Reisch, Margarita Philosophica (1504)

It was the gift of the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature in 1903 – some 30,000 items – which doubled library holdings and transformed the University Library into a major academic institution. Director’s Choice had already claimed the Collection’s most outstanding item in terms of provenance, a copy of Das Kapital (1872) inscribed by Marx to Peter Imandt (1823-1897), a fellow political émigré and German teacher in Dundee who worked with Marx and Engels for many years after having arrived in London, via Switzerland, in 1852. In the treasures volume we highlighted the founding item of the Goldsmiths’ Library, Dionyius Lardner’s Railway Economy (1850), annotated by the founder of the library, Herbert Somerton Foxwell: “I bought this volume from a bookstall in Great Portland Street at Jevons’ suggestion, one afternoon as I was going to Hampstead with him, for 6d.!  He urged me to buy it, partly on account of the low price, partly because it was a book of great intrinsic value, from which had suggested to him the mathematical treatment of economic theory. [cf. ch xiii] This purchase was the first step in the formation of my economic collection.” In addition to buying Foxwell’s collection and presenting it to the University of London, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths financed the extension of the collection, such that it is now more than twice the size of the original gift. Our choice of other items from the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature honoured collection building, with the first printed work on economics (Franciscus de Platea, Opus Restitutionum Usurarum, Excommunicationum, 1472; ISTC ip00751000), and a professional diary of the energetic railway engineer John Urpeth Rastrick (1780-1856).

On the whole the treasures volume follows and acknowledges the receipt of other major special collections to the University, from the Durning-Lawrence Library based around Sir Francis Bacon and the Quick Memorial Library of works on education, both given in 1929, to the M.S. Anderson Collection of Writings on Russia Printed between 1525 and 1917 and editions of Walter de la Mare’s work (given in 2008 and 2009 respectively). But it is important to acknowledge that not all the noteworthy works in a library are held in named special collections, and the treasures volume does this, for example with single purchases or gifts. The most valuable item featured falls into both these categories. It is an illuminated manuscript produced around 1385 chronicling the exploits of Edward, the Black Prince, during the Hundred Years War. Purchased by the University to present to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) in 1921, it was subsequently placed by him on permanent loan to the University Library. Occasionally the means of acquisition is unknown, as for the short-running journal of the Healthy & Artistic Dress Union Aglaia (recorded on Copac only for Senate House Library and the National Art Library).

Editing a treasures volume is not conducive to cherishing favourite items, as one’s energies are focused on searching for errors and inconsistencies in drafts. Yet certain items do stand out for particular features. For sheer beauty, my preferred item is a small (110 x 72 mm), apparently unique book of hours printed on vellum in Paris for Germain Hardouyn in about 1516: the book is rubricated and illuminated, with a half-page coloured illustration for each of the hours.

Heures a l’usaige de Rome tout au Long sans riens requerir (ca 1516)

Heures a l’usaige de Rome tout au Long sans riens requerir (ca 1516)

The book I am most curious to read is The Greatest Plague in Life or The Adventures of a Lady in Search of a Good Servant, by the brothers Henry and Augustus Mayhew (1847) – a book reprinted at least three times in the Victorian era, as copies on Copac testify, but which has since sunk into obscurity.The first edition of the book is by no means rare, with copies from twelve libraries on Copac, but Senate House Library is the only library to have recorded ownership of the six original parts, complete with advertisements for pens and ink, iron fenders, lingerie, wigs, and hair dye.

Henry and Augustus Mayhew, The Greatest Plague in Life, ot 3 (1847).

Henry and Augustus Mayhew, The Greatest Plague in Life, ot 3 (1847).

For us there is also a local interest, as the narrator is based in Guildford Street, Russell Square, whence she complains that she has been driven “through a pack of ungrateful, good-for-nothing things called servants, who really do not know when they are well off”. This book promises to rate highly for amusement value, although for the top position in that category it vies with Thomas Carlyle’s acerbic marginalia on the first edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (for example, “don’t!” when the protagonist says it is “too easy to go mad”).


“What and where is the University of London?” is a query which vexed University officials before the central University moved from South Kensington to its current home in Bloomsbury in the 1930s.  “What and where is Senate House Library, University of London” albeit not asked so explicitly, has often been implicit. A document from 1946 claimed that the University of London Library was not as well known as it deserved to be, even within the University of London; and half a century later we still encounter researchers who are surprised by the richness of the Library’s holdings. We hope that the treasures volume will stop such a question from being asked at all.

All images copyright Senate House Library, University of London, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.