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Special Collections

The Library's special collections are housed in the Old Library and can be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room. For further information on the collections and arrangements for viewing them please contact the Special Collections Librarian, Kathryn McKee on 01223 339393.


Special Collections Spotlight

Some of the most interesting finds in our Special Collections are featured below! New articles posted at least once a month.

Detail of Cain slaying Abel from an illuminated initial, St John's MS A.8, 12th cent.


Descriptions of the medieval, post-medieval, and oriental manuscripts and papyrus fragments.

Detail of a woodcut of a smith making a magnet from William Gilbert's De magnete, 1600

Early Printed Books

Details of the Library's rare books to 1800, and of the progress of the Cataloguing Project.

Detail from an embroidered binding, with the initials ER either side of a Tudor rose

Provenances and Bindings 

Information on the ownership marks and interesting bindings.

Detail from one of the personal papers in the Library

Personal and Family Papers

Listings of the personal papers of College alumni.

Detail of a woman and child from a street scene photographed by Samuel Butler

Photographic Collections

Listings of photographs, negatives, and slides of College alumni, buildings and property.

Detail of the face of Shelton's Regulator


Listings of busts, coins, medals, furnishings, and other objects.

Professor Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001)

Fred Hoyle Project

Information on the Fred Hoyle Collection and the 2008-2011 Hoyle Project.

'San Bernardino Pass' (oil on canvas), by Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler Project

Information on the Samuel Butler Collection and the 2011-2013 Heritage Lottery Funded Butler Project.

Detail from the title page to John Dee's 'General and rare memorials pertayning to the perfect arte of navigation' (Aa.4.47)

Acquisitions and Donations

Details of recent additions to the Library's special collections.

See also the College Archives, which contain resources describing the growth and history of the administration and finances of the College, and Janus, the union catalogue of archives held in Cambridge University and its Colleges.