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UCL Special Collections

UCL Library Special Collections is one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK.

A Limited Re-Opening

Please go to our Visiting Us page for up to date information concerning our limited re-opening of reading rooms.

Please see information relating to UCL's response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Information relating to wider library closures at UCL can also be found.

Our staff are now all working from home, but we will endeavour to answer your emails as usual. Where possible, we will be working to support your research and teaching online, and making our schools and outreach programme available virtually.

Our Digital Collections and our catalogues remain online and available for your use. We’ve also created a Primary Sources reading list of digitised books, manuscripts and archives available from other institutions.

Please contact us with any enquiries.

Collection Highlights

Finding Material

For more information on how to find material held by UCL Special Collections, learn about Our Collections.


News from our blog

Special Collections welcome first Summer School at UCL

We are excited to announce UCL Special Collections’ newest addition to the outreach and education programme – our first Summer School programme, in August 2018!

We will be offering 14 Year 12 students a chance to learn about all things special collections – from what we keep, why we keep it, how we keep it and how our collections can be significant to an array of audiences.

The Flaxman Manuscripts – a volunteer’s experience

Posted on behalf of Euan Guckian, a UCL student volunteer with Special Collections.

During the final term of this year I have had the opportunity to work with a couple of John Flaxman’s journals and notebooks for the UCL Special Collections team. Flaxman (who most reading this will recognise from his works in UCL’s main library) was a famous sculptor, and leading figure of the neoclassical movement, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Transparency can be tricky. Conserving UCL’s iconic buildings plans and drawings.

Written by Laurent Cruveillier on June 29, 2018

The College Plans, belonging to the Records Office Collections within UCL Special Collections, Archives and Records Department, are housed in part at the National Archives and in part at UCL. They are architectural plans and drawings of several landmarks of the UCL campus, such as the Cruciform, the Rockefeller Building of the “New” Chemistry building.

Dangers and Delusions: Promoting women’s voices through an exhibition

Written by Jessica Womack and Helen Biggs. A version of this blog post was first presented at the Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives conference at Royal Holloway on Wednesday, June 13 2018, as part of the panel, Journey in Gender Equality: University College London, Women and Suffrage, 1878-2018

UCL Special Collections Presents…

We’re excited to announce UCL Special Collections Presents… – a day of talks and displays in UCL’s South Junction Reading Room on Tuesday, June 5th.

Join our team of friendly archivists and librarians at the South Junction Reading Room to hear about some of their favourite Special Collections items in an informal setting. Come face to face with exquisite treasures, learn about the work of our conservators, and discover which curious tomes our volunteers have been studying.

Dante display and other events

Last week saw the launch of a new UCL Special Collections display outside the Donaldson Reading Room entrance on the 1st floor of the Main Library. Dante’s Divine Comedy: Modern Visual Representations features a selection of printed materials inspired by the great medieval Italian poet’s literary masterpiece. Produced over 700 years ago, the Divine Comedy is still celebrated today for its incredible imagery of the afterlife.

‘The Lover’s Confession’: students research Confessio Amantis fragment

This post contributed by Calum Cockburn and Lauren Rozenberg.

On the 8th and 9th December 2017, UCL Special Collections hosted the third workshop in the Digital Editing and the Medieval Manuscript Fragment series (DEMMF), organised and taught jointly by UCL and Yale postgraduates students to twelve graduate students (the majority of whom are UCL-based).

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