Library Services


New 18th century finds at UCL Special Collections

11 July 2022

UCL Special Collections discover 59 "unique” 18th century books including editions of Swift, Pope and Voltaire.

User looking at a book in the reading room

UCL Special Collections will be contributing digitisations of about 320 items totalling around 66,000 pages to ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) a major scholarly database of books published in the eighteenth century.  

Among these books are 59 which have been accredited by the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) as brand new entries or “unique, first-time discoveries”. The ESTC holds the records of 351,689 items across 2,000 libraries. It aims to be a comprehensive record of all books, serials, newspapers and selected ephemera printed before 1801.  

Although UCL is not an 18th century library, we will be contributing editions by major authors including Swift, Defoe, Pope, Voltaire, Rabelais and Beckford not previously recorded on ESTC. 

We are also contributing works by important female authors including An Essay on Combustion, 1794 by Mrs Elizabeth Fulhame, “the first solo woman researcher in chemistry, the prolific Delarivier Manley (sometimes known as Mary de la Rivière), and a 4-part Ladies Astronomy from 1738, in which the Sun smiles approachably for female readers.

Caroline Kimbell, who is the Interim Head of Commercial Licensing and Digitisation, working with publishers to identify rare books and archives for online publication, said:  

"During a career as both publisher and content licensor, the joy of finding new treasures in special collections and archives never dims, but establishing the rarity of so many 18th century books at UCL and being able to share them online with the world's researchers has been a real highlight"

Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science, said: 

“LCCOS (Library, Culture, Collections & Open Science) in UCL seeks to provide world class infrastructure to support teaching, learning, research and engagement as a key part of the activities in UCL RIGE (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement). The discovery of such important, and in many cases unique, 18th century items in UCL Special Collections strengthens the Library’s ability to open new horizons to UCL’s students, staff, researchers and visitors,” 

Read more

Read Eighteenth Century Digitisation At UCL on the UCL Special Collections blog.