Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Manuscript Collections

Manuscripts and archives are unique. They are not duplicated in other libraries, and they cannot be replaced if lost or damaged.

Together with other primary sources, they provide the tools by which historians and researchers can investigate and interpret past lives, from the activities of statesmen and eminent people to the commonplace experience of anonymous individuals.


Photograph showing deed, and detail of the handwriting

Deed of gift of the manor of Maplebeck, Nottinghamshire, 21 Feb. 1291 [Ne D 2199]


Archives are acquired in different ways - sometimes in quantities of metal deed boxes, sometimes as a slim file of papers. Many institutions and private individuals have generously entrusted the University with their collections, for their preservation and the benefit of researchers now and in the future.


Sir Andrew and Lady Buchanan looking at the Rushall psalter, with the Vice-Chancellor of the University

Sir Andrew and Lady Buchanan, with Sir Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, inspect the restored Rushall Psalter, 1991

Stacks of metal deed boxes

Old deed boxes in which archive collections were received




Among about 700 separate collections held by the University, a particular strength lies in the papers of leading Nottinghamshire families and estates. Property and manorial records throw light on people and their local communities. Correspondence and accounts record the expansion of residential development in the 19th century.


A pile of manorial rolls

Manorial rolls and volumes from the manor of North Wheatley (NWM 1/6-8)

Coloured plan for a house in Nottingham Park

Plan of Sysonby Cottage on Newcastle Terrace, Nottingham Park, Nottinghamshire, 1829 (Ne 6 D 2/37/245)



The outstanding national and international significance of the archives of the dukes of Portland and Newcastle was recognized in 2005, when both won recognition through The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Designation Scheme. These collections, including many papers in foreign languages, record the political, military and diplomatic careers of family members.


Detail from a plan of the Dutch fleet of William of Orange, 1688 [Pw A 2197/2]

Satirical French verse about Lords Halifax, Bentinck and Danby, c.1688-1689 [Pw A 2035]



Other more modern archives come from local institutions, including businesses, hospitals and churches. Collections have also been accepted from private individuals - from poets to political activists. Such archives will help future generations to study our recent past.


Next: The Special (Printed Books) Collections


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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