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 our reading rooms.
Our enquiry service is open and with staff still largely working from home, we recommend that you contact us by email.
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.
- You can search for rare books and other printed material on Explore.
- Archives and manuscripts are found on the Archives Catalogue.
- Search for digitised and digital content on Digital Collections.
For more information and video tutorials on how to use these resources to find material held by UCL Special Collections, learn about Our Collections.
News from our blog
Six geese a-laying: bean, white-fronted, Egyptian, barnacle, brant, red-breasted (with some of their eggs to tie things together), all courtesy of 19-century ornithologist, Francis Orpen Morris.
Five gold rings: back in the conservation studio, certain precautions should be taken before a pigment consolidation job . . .
Four calling birds: and their song in musical notation (‘to to toto to to!’), from Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia universalis (1650). The parrot, imitating human speech, is saying hello in Greek instead . . .
Not quite three French hens, but one French lesson, at the Open Air School in Regent’s Park, c1919. Schools like this were opened to promote better health in children – all lessons took place outdoors whatever the weather, to give students maximum exposure to fresh air.
IOE Archives, reference LFB/24
Two turtle doves: one from India, one from Jamaica, both from Eleazar Albin’s A Natural History of Birds (the first English book on birds with colour illustrations).
It’s the first day of December. Time to launch our Advent calendar. This year’s theme is based on the seasonal carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Throughout the month we’ll be posting Special Collections-inspired images/blogs for each of the 12 days, beginning with a partridge in a pear tree. We wanted to take a bold, experimental, and daring approach, so we hope you’ll forgive our decision to start Twelvetide a bit earlier than usual. Happy Christmas!
A partridge in a pear tree: in the conservation studio, the use of non-acid-free paper is best kept for tea breaks . . .
We are pleased to invite applications for a Special Collections Visiting Fellowship, which offers a researcher the opportunity to visit UCL to conduct research on our fascinating collections. Its aims are to raise awareness of the collections amongst the research community, to facilitate new research into UCL Special Collections, and to disseminate the research outcomes to academic and non-academic audiences.
The IOE holds the archive of the British Forces Education Service/Service Children’s Education Association. The BFES/SCE provided education for the children of British Forces personnel initially in Germany, but later worldwide. The Association was established to enable BFES/SCE teachers to keep in touch. The collection contains papers from countries all over the world including Germany, Belize and Hong Kong. With the withdrawal of British troops from Germany over the past few years we have received many new items for the archive.
Written by Laurent Cruveillier
UCL Special Collections possesses a collection of medieval and early modern fragments, including 157 manuscripts and nine early prints.
Most were recovered from bindings of other manuscripts or early printed books, where they had been used as spine linings, paste-downs or covering material.
Posted on behalf of Adersh Gill – a UCL student volunteer with Special Collections