There is a wealth of primary material within the University’s Special Collections, which can be analysed and interpreted in various ways. We can help you develop the specific skills needed to understand, decode and question our historic material.
Our collections and archives include rare books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, registers, recordings and artworks that you can use to enrich your research.
Watch videos on how to use our catalogue to access material in Special Collections. These will show you how to navigate the catalogue, find digital collections and order material.
Find out about visiting the Special Collections Research Centre.
Work through our in-depth resources to understand Special Collections objects and what to look out for.
- How to extract information from our objects
- Find out about the common types of objects you might encounter in Special Collections.
- How using objects from across collections can benefit your research with Professor Abigail Harrison Moore.
Researcher case studies
Hear from other Special Collections users (both students and academics) about their experiences of using Special Collections for research.
- Using Special Collections: Beth
- Using Special Collections: Dominique
- Using Special Collections: Lorna
- Using Special Collections: Megan
- My research project: Holly
- My research project: Dominique
- My PhD research: Rebecca
- My PhD research: Helen
These guides provide useful introductions to using archives for research:
- Archives Hub: Using Archives: A guide for the inexperienced.
- The National Archives: Guides to reading old documents.
Search external archives
You can search the holdings of many specialist archives through online catalogue networks. The following provide useful starting points.
The Archives Hub provides descriptions of archives held in UK universities and colleges. Search by keyword to find out which institutions may hold material of interest to you. Archives Hub includes some content from our Special Collections.
The Portal provides access to information on archival collections across Europe, as well as details of archival institutions and repositories.
ArchiveGrid provides descriptions of archives held at 130 archive repositories around the world (although many are in the United States). You can search by keyword to track down material of interest to you.
The National Archives Discovery platform provides access to catalogue records held by the National Archives and more than 2,500 archives across the UK. You can also find contact details for archive repositories, and useful guides on searching by person, place or subject.
Europeana is a web portal created by the European Union containing digitalised museum collections of more than 3,000 institutions across Europe. It includes records of over 10 million cultural and scientific artefacts, brought together on a single platform.