Manuscripts and Special Collections

East Midlands Collection

Montage of items from the East Midlands Collection

The East Midlands Collection is the only open-access collection in Manuscripts and Special Collections. It contains books, pamphlets, periodicals and other materials on the historic counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.

The East Midlands Collection was formally established in 1972 with its own librarian and from 1973 shared a Reading Room with the Department of Manuscripts. The Library had by then been acquiring regional literature for more than 40 years, and the Collection today has grown to the level of over 8000 books and 9000 pamphlets with over 900 periodical titles.

The majority of the collection is available on open access shelves in the Reading Room and most books and pamphlets can be borrowed by registered members of the University.  

Scope of the collection

As the county libraries of the region have strong local studies collections based on many years of acquisitions, the University Library does not strive for complete coverage in any single county but it maintains an unequalled collection of printed sources (mostly secondary) for the East Midland counties as a region.

Although the Collection is commonly thought of as dealing with local history, many subjects are represented, including the natural sciences, architecture and buildings, archaeology, literature, economic activity and social issues. There are inevitably overlaps with other parts of the Library's general holdings. The Collection aims to support relevant subjects in the University's research and teaching programmes, and supports and complements the very rich local materials in the our manuscript collections. In development of the Collection, the Library does not seek to compete on subjects where local public library holdings have particular strengths.

The acquisitions policy does not generally extend to local magazines, ephemera, or works by local authors, unless they are literary works set in the region. Three Nottingham authors, William and Mary Howitt and Henry Kirke White, are however unusually well represented, and the Library continues to acquire their work.  

Front cover 'Nottingham Queen of the Midlands and its Industries', Daily Telegraph Supplement, 16 Sep. 1935


There are many published maps relating to the various counties in the East Midlands including OS maps, A-Z street maps, historic maps of towns, planning reports, and geological surveys. There are also maps in other collections, not just the EMC.

The Guide to Nottinghamshire Published Maps [PDF], is intended to help researchers identify any maps that may be useful. The Guide includes both original and reproduction maps, and grouped by location and arranged in chronological order. 


There are complete (or nearly complete) runs of the standard historical journals for the East Midland counties (e.g. Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, and Lincolnshire History and Archaeology) and runs of record society publications. The Collection also includes journals which have long since ceased publication, such as Notts. and Derbyshire Notes and Queries (1892-1898) and South Holland Magazine (1869-1871).

Current acquisitions include the newsletters and bulletins of a number of town and village historical societies and of some groups with special interests, such as archaeology and conservation. About 120 periodicals are currently received.


The East Midlands Collection contains Nottingham newspapers for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection is not complete for this period, but for most dates at least one title is available. There is also some coverage of the 1920s and 1930s.

These volumes are separately located, because of their bulk, and requests for them must be made in the Reading Room, where they will be produced for consultation. For preservation reasons readers may be referred to a microform alternative.  

Digital Galleries

A selection of digitised maps and plans of Nottinghamshire, mainly from published sources, is available in a Digital Gallery.

A selection of photographs of places, people and events in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire between the First and Second World Wars is also available in a Digital Gallery.


These supplement the conventional printed collection, and are mostly of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire census enumerators' returns from 1841 to 1901 and of Nottingham newspapers. They also include town and county directories and the transcript of the North East Leicestershire Coalfield Inquiry, 1979.

East Midlands Special Collection

The following are part of the East Midlands Special Collection, and shelved in the Special Collections store.

  • books published before 1850
  • some later rarities

Anyone wishing to consult these items must register with the Department to receive a reader's ticket.



Next page:  Using the East Midlands Collection


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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