History Dissertation Workshop
Finding primary source material in Special Collections
Some 60,000 items are indexed on the manuscripts catalogue
Some search strategies: -
NB: Use the Word (or Phrase) in Description box for keyword-type searches; note, however, that the manuscripts catalogue is not currently subject indexed, and successful searches therefore rely upon matching words that have been used in the descriptions section of the record.
Records for all the printed material held in Special Collections are indexed on the main library catalogue
Use the Advanced Keyword Search option to limit searches to material held in Special Collections and/or by date:
There are separate rare books indexes available for the extra fields provided in the catalogue records for pre-1800 rare books. These fields include details of early printers and booksellers, places of publication in standardised form, provenances and standard references:
NB. There are also separate catalogues for:
Each of the collections is described fully along with guidance about finding aids (including links to relevant catalogue records) on the collections descriptions page.
Use the selective subject index to ascertain which of the collections might be of most relevance to your topic.
Collections that might be of particular interest:
Virtual Exhibitions and Book of the Month
The virtual exhibitions page can provide a useful starting point for searching for material by subject.
Some exhibitions that might be of particular interest to historians:
More in-depth articles on specific books may be found in the book of the month archive.
Some book of the month articles that might be of particular interest to historians:
The Course material pages have been set up to support the teaching of specific courses and new pages are continually being added.
For course material pages specifically set up for historians, see:
Sheaf binder indexes
While most of the records for Special Collections material are now on-line, there are additionally a number of (incomplete) indexes available for consultation in the reading room. These include a partial subject index, and indexes of newspapers, maps and views, ephemera, broadsides and chapbooks. Although these are no longer kept up-to-date, they can still provide a useful starting point by subject.
A series of old exhibition catalogues of Sp Coll material are also available for consultation in the reading room (some of these have been digitised and appear as virtual exhibitions); again, these are useful for a subject approach.
There is a small collection of reference material in the reading room, including (mostly superseded) guides and hand lists to some of our named collections, as well as some guides and descriptions of other Special Collections.
I am always happy to try and help locate relevant material and advise on
best use of the collections: