Manuscripts and Special Collections

Historic Collections Online


Historic Collections Online contains a selection of images and documents from the collections held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham.

The resource is designed to give access to a broad range of material from across the subject spectrum, and particularly focuses on visual material such as photographs, illustrations, and maps, many of which have featured in exhibitions mounted at the Weston Gallery.


Some suggested themes are given on the front page of the resource. Type the name of the theme into the 'Simple Search' box to see the material. You can also search on any keyword of your choice. We regret that the facility to browse collections does not work at present.

Historic Collections Online does not attempt at present to give systematic access to whole series of full-text documents, although extracts from both printed and manuscript documents are included, and content will be extended over the next months.  We hope that you will enjoy using the resource, and find material of interest and value. We welcome feedback; please contact us with your comments or suggestions.
Guidance on using the resource is given below in the form of Frequently Asked Questions; you might also want to consult the DigiTool User Guide (pdf).

This resource is still in development; please contact us if you experience any technical issues.

Please read our terms of use before you Go to Historic Collections Online>>


Terms of use

Images reproduced on this site may be reproduced for non-commercial research and private study purposes as well as other uses permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.

Permission must be sought for any other use of the content. Please contact Manuscripts and Special Collections with full details of your requirements. High resolution images may be available on request. See our reprographics services for details and charges.

Takedown policy

The Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham is committed to respecting the intellectual property rights of others, and has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that the reproduction of images on this site is done with the full consent of copyright owners and the owners of respective collections. However, certain rights holders have proved to be untraceable.

If you are the owner of the copyright in any of the material on this website and do not consent to the use of your material in accordance with the terms and conditions of use of this website, please contact Manuscripts and Special Collections, King’s Meadow Campus, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2NR with full details.

On receipt of your complaint, Manuscripts & Special Collections staff will:
• Acknowledge receipt of the complaint by email within 5 working days.
• Make an initial assessment of its validity.
• For all but spurious complaints, we will remove from the website the item that is subject to complaint.
• Refer the complaint to our legal advisor for comment and advice.
• Seek to verify your identity as complainant.
• Record your rights in the metadata that describes the item. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I search Historic Collections Online?

There are two ways to search Historic Collections Online: by browsing a collection or by using the search screen.

Browsing the collections is useful if you do not know exactly what you are looking for. We have grouped items by subject or “theme”. Click on Historic Collections Online to display all themes. Clicking on any one of them will bring up a display of all the items on that theme. You can click on each item to view it and find out more information about it.

The Search box on the main page allows you to search the collection by keyword. There is a Simple and an Advanced Search option. Type in your keyword(s) and a list of results that match them will be displayed. Clicking on an item will show you more information about it. You can click on each item to view it and find out more information about it.

Can members of the public access digital resources?
The images can be viewed by everyone, and there is no current requirement to log in.
I have seen an image in Historic Collections Online and wish to see the original.
All items in Historic Collections Online can be viewed in our Reading Room. There may also be other related material of interest. Please contact Manuscripts & Special Collections to arrange a visit.
I have seen an image in Historic Collections Online and wish to obtain a copy.
Copies can normally be provided. It is our policy to provide these in hard-copy form so please let us know if you have a specific need for a digital copy. Please see details of our reprographics services and charges. Contact us for further information or to place an order. Please quote the reference number given in the field “Source Ref”.
Will everything be digitised?
No. We hold over 3 million manuscripts and many thousands of books in the printed collections, and have no plans for comprehensive digitisation of all of them! Our digitisation strategy is shaped by a number of factors, including demand on items for teaching, learning, and research, preservation of fragile material, requirements of exhibition and outreach work.
What is the difference between Historic Collections Online and the Catalogue?

Historic Collections Online is a selection of digitised items from Manuscripts & Special Collections, often photographs or illustrations, but sometimes images of written documents, together with a description and other basic information (metadata) about the item. It can be used to view items, or extracts from items.

A catalogue is a comprehensive listing of all the documents, books, or other items in a collection. It includes a description and other basic information (metadata) about the item. It does not normally include full text or images of the documents. It is used to find out what documents or books are held here. Manuscripts & Special Collections uses two catalogues: the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, for manuscripts and archive material, and the library catalogue UNLOC for the books in the rare book and special printed collections.

How do I view documents?
After doing a search or a browse, the results page will be displayed. Click on the thumbnail to open a full size version of the image. When a search brings up a single result, you will be taken to the catalogue details automatically, but for multiple search results clicking on the underlined title of the image will take you to the catalogue details.
What are the icons (eg JP2, JPG)?
Some images may be viewed in different formats. The icons represent the different “manifestations” of each digital object. While some items appear only in a single format, others may have two or more manifestations. For example, an image may be presented as a jpeg and a jpg2000.  Clicking on the different icons opens the object in that format.
What is the difference between jpeg and jpeg2000?
Jpeg 2000 images give higher resolution, and show more detail than a jpeg.
Why do two images sometimes appear on the screen, one small and one large?
This is the jpg 2000 viewer. The right hand image can be enlarged with the zoom controls. The left hand image is used to indicate and move the magnified portion. If you prefer not to have this dual view, click on the Full View button (above the image) for a single image which can be enlarged using the zoom controls, and moved around the screen by clicking and dragging.
Can I see the description at the same time as the image?
Yes. Click on the right hand button Show/Hide Metadata (at the side of “Metadata options”). This will display the description above the image.
How do I save the item?
Click on the Save icon to save the information about the item. To save the image itself, you will need to right click on it, and Save Picture As.


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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