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The Hertfordshire Natural History Society Library


Natural History, botany


Ca. 1,300 books, pamphlets and periodicals

Scope and content

Page with hand-coloured woodcut illustration from Herbarius latinus, 1485 (INCUNABULA 2 s)

This collection is devoted to the study and observation of plants and animals and their ecosystems, habitats and distribution. The history of botany is a particular strength. Disciplines such as geology, meteorology and palaeontology are also represented. Most of the material is concerned with the natural history of the British Isles, although there are some works, particularly marine biology and ecology, which go further afield. The collection spans the fifteenth century to the present day. It includes seven incunables, such as Johann Petri’s illustrated herbal of 1485.

Much of the collection consists of the transactions of local natural history societies - largely comprised of amateur naturalists - from the 17th century to the present day, and includes painstakingly observed inventories of local flora and fauna, as well as local meteorological data. This makes them a valuable record of the distribution and changing patterns of plants, animals and local climate in the UK.


The Hertfordshire Natural History Society deposited the collection at University College London in 1935. It has been added to subsequently.

Finding aids and published descriptions

  • Hopkinson, J., Catalogue of the library of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society and Field Club (London: John van Voorst, 1885)
  • Hopkinson, J., Supplementary catalogue of the library of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society and Field club (London: Gurney & Jackson, 1890)
  • Freeman, R.B., ‘The Society’s Library’, Transactions of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society and Field Club, 27.7 (1975), pp. 348-354.


The collection is fully catalogued. To browse the records for the printed material, conduct a shelfmark search for HNHS on Explore.