Manuscripts and Special Collections

Agriculture & Farming

The East Midlands has extensive farmland, with livestock favoured in the more rugged counties such as Derbyshire, and vegtables and other crops grown in flatter, fertile counties like Lincolnshire.

As such a major industry, and one that began undergoing modernisation and mechanisation from the late 19th century, it was important to maintain a skilled workforce. The University's collection of farming records can be traced back to the late 19th century, with the establishment of a Department of Agriculture and independent farming colleges, which were brought together as the University's Faculty of Agriculture at Sutton Bonington in 1948. 

Farm at Eastwood, 1920s-1930s (Ref MS 565/97)


University  Records

Few records from the Midland Dairy Institute, Midland Dairy College, Midland Agricultural College and the University's early Agricultural departments survive. Those that do are predominantly institutional records, rather than records relating to actual farming and crop production, and date from the 1890s. More information about them can be found in the University Archive collections. Prospectuses and published reports and research conducted by the University is held in the East Midlands Collection and Special Collections, which can be searched in the online catalogue.

  • University College Nottingham Faculty of Agriculture papers; 1947-1955 (catalogue record)
  • Records of the Midland Agricultural College; 1893-1998 (catalogue record)

Farms and Farming

Farming records came here in two ways: records (mainly accounts) acquired by members of staff in the course of their work among the farming community in the East Midlands, and records from farms owned by the educational institutions themselves. The area represented includes Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire. Some of the farms were arable and others were primarily sheep. Many of the records we hold are incomplete; there isn't complete coverage of one particular branch of agriculture, farm or business, but our records provide an overview of agricultural life in the region.

  • A collection of farming and rural records primarily from the East Midlands, 1706-1951 (catalogue record
  • Memoranda book for a farm in the Stragglethorpe, Holme Pierrepont and Cotgrave area, Nottinghamshire, 1814-1848 (catalogue record)
  • Records of Stoke Bardolph and Bulcote Model Farms, 1892-1975 (catalogue record

Within the Briggs Collection of Educational Literature and Special Collections are many published books on farming and agricultural education and methods. They pre-date the University's records and range from simple introductions to farming and animals for young children, to texts on animal husbandry, and practical agricultural guides. 

Many of the landed estates were heavily involved in farming and livestock, either by staff of the estate or through leasing land to tenant farmers. More information about the records of individual estates can be found in our introduction to the Family & Estate Collections.Notable records include:

The books and other printed materials in the East Midlands Collection contain numerous publications relating to farming, in particular personal accounts of life working the land, and the history of farming and agriculture in the East Midlands.

  • Slides, lecture notes and research papers of Philip Lyth, local and agricultural historian; 1939-1994 (catalogue record)

Perhaps the most well-known farming village in Nottinghamshire is Laxton, which the one place which has retained the medieval open field system of farming down to the present day. We hold considerable numbers of documents relating to landholding and enclosure, Laxton village population, and the open field farming system, which are discussed in greater depth in our Laxton Medieval Village resource.

Agricultural and farming organisations

We hold a small number of trade publications, the majority of which are no longer in print. These have been transferred from departments within the University. Whilst we do not actively seek to collect similar material, we will accept them where they support the teaching or research at the University, or fill in gaps in our holdings.

  • Records of The Horticultural Advertiser, 1930-1960 (catalogue record)
  • Parish summaries of Agricultural and Horticultural Census returns for East Midlands counties; 1964-1985 (catalogue record)

  • Papers of the Dishley Sheep Society, Leicestershire, 1790-1798 (catalogue record)

  • Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, 1807-1848 (Special Collection Oversize Periodicals)

Food production

Related to agriculture and farming are our very small collection of food-related Nottingham-based businesses. These are very incomplete and relate mainly to businesses no longer trading.

  • Records of licensed malt manufacture in Nottinghamshire, 1810-1814  (catalogue record)
  • Cash books of Henry Daws of Nottinghamshire (distiller, maltster or brewer), 1786-1816 (catalogue record)
  • Records of Gilliatt and Sons Ltd, corn millers of Nottingham, 1900-1969  (catalogue record)


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651