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Physical & Digital Collections

Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collections at Cambridge University Library: Search our Collections


Many of our collections can be found on our online catalogue on our ArchiveSearch database. ArchiveSearch holds our main catalogue and also has catalogues for University Archives and the Royal Greenwich Observatory Archives. 

ArchiveSearch is not searchable through other University Library catalogues, and thus materials on ArchiveSearch will not appear on iDiscover.

Cambridge University theses can be searched for on iDiscover. This catalogue includes post 1970 theses. Information on previous ones is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room (visit our Theses, dissertations and prize essays page for further information).

Other catalogues

Not all Manuscripts holdings can be located on ArchiveSearch. The majority of our medieval manuscripts, for example, are catalogued in the five volumes of the Catalogue of the Manuscripts preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge. This can be found online as follows:  

Vol.1   Vol.2   Vol.3   Vol.4   Vol.5   Index

Other material is catalogued on external websites such as The National Archives catalogue Discovery and ArchivesHub, while others are only available in paper catalogues and the card catalogue found in the Manuscripts Reading Room. If you’re searching for material you believe may be held in Manuscripts but can’t locate on ArchiveSearch, please try these other resources – and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Information on the Library’s Asian & Near and Middle and Eastern collections can be found here.


Information on the arrangement of the collections may help you in searching.  The Western manuscripts can be broadly divided into four classes:

Two-letter class
The original holdings of the Library’s manuscript department. Mainly, but not wholly, made up of medieval and early modern manuscripts. 
Additional class
Items deposited or acquired from the mid-nineteenth century onwards and mostly containing material dating from then until the modern day, though also containing items dating from medieval times onwards. 
Named collections
Usually larger collections related to an individual, family or institution, mostly dating from the Victorian period and later.
Doc class
Originally for documents such as title deeds, manorial court records, and accounting papers, but now includes a much wider range of material.

We also have a set of subject guides offering overviews of our material and a listing of some of our most significant archival collections with links to more detailed information.

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