Skip to main content

History, Classics and Archaeology: Archives and Special Collections

Useful news and help with information resources within and beyond the Library for anyone studying in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University.

What are Special Collections?

Special Collections are unique and rare resources held by Newcastle University's Robinson's Library.  We hold both archives and rare books.

Due to their rarity and their sometimes fragile condition, these items are not on the normal library shelves, but they are available to everyone in the Special Collections reading room.

What Collections are Available in the Robinson Library?

This guide will point you in the direction of some collections which are particularly relevant to your subject area.

For a wider look at more of our collections, and to see tips on ordering and using archives and rare books, there is also a Special Collections LibGuide ...

Rare Books Outside of the 'Rare Book Collections'

Not all of our rare books are in 'collections' with particular relevance to your subject area, we also have hundreds of rare and unique books which were acquired by the library individually, across a range of subjects, which might also be valuable to your research.

Just a few to get you started ...

We have plenty more ...

All of our rare books are on the library catalogue, so start your search by entering your topic area, author, or title into library search in the normal way.

To view items within the Special Collections department, you can then refine your search by clicking on the Special Collections Location.

Kepier Collection

Kepier Grammar School was opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 and closed in 1933. These books from its library consist mainly of seventeenth and eighteenth-century works on classics and theology.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Classics and Ancient History  Literature

More on Kepier Grammar School Collection...

Trevelyan Papers

The Trevelyan Papers represent several generations of the Trevelyan family whose home was Wallington Hall, Northumberland, and their diverse roles and interests. They include the professional and personal papers of:

Naturalist and geologist Walter Calverley Trevelyan  (1797-1870), reflecting his scientific interests.

Civil servant and colonial administrator Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan (1807-1886), who worked for the East India Company and the Home Civil Service as Assistant Secretary to the Treasury during the Irish Famine. 

Politician and author Sir George Otto Trevelyan (1838-1928), a Liberal M.P. and Chief Secretary for Ireland after the Phoenix Park murders.

Liberal and then Labour M.P. Sir Charles Philip Trevelyan (1870-1958), who was a founder of the Union of Democratic Control in World War I and later President of the Board of Education. There are some of his wife Molly's (1881-1966), papers including her diaries for 1892-1917.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:

Walter Calverley Tevelyan: Biology  Chemistry  Civil Engineering  Education  Geomatics  Physics  Social History  Zoology

Charles Edward Tevelyan:  Education  Political History  Politics

George Otto Trevelyan:  Biology  Physics  Political History  Politics  Sociology

Charles Philip Trevelyan:  Education   Political History  Politcs  Social History

More on Trevelyan Papers...

Williams (Ethel) Archive

Ethel Williams was Newcastle’s first female doctor, and in 1906 became the first woman to found a general medical practice in the city. In 1917, Williams co-founded the Northern Women’s Hospital.

As a suffragist, she served as secretary of the Newcastle Women’s Liberal Association and became president of the Newcastle and District Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS).

As a pacifist, she was a founding member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she was a secretary of the Newcastle branch in 1934.

This collection includes letters from contemporaries of Ethel Williams, a number of photographs of her throughout her life, objects connected to the suffrage movement, and selected information about Williams collected after her death.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Local History   Social and Political History   Politics   Medicine

More on Williams (Ethel) Archive...

Hodgkin (Thomas) (Historian) Archive

The personal archive of Thomas Hodgkin (b.1831 - d.1913), barrister and later a partner in the banking house 'Hodgkin, Barnett, Pease and Spence', Newcastle upon Tyne.  Hodgkin also devoted much time to historical studies, specialising particularly in the history of the early middle ages, and published a number of historical texts during his lifetime.  Much of the Hodgkin family papers are held in the Welcome Library in London.  The archive held within Newcastle University Special Collections is the personal archive of Thomas Hodgkin and comprises of notes and draft editions relating to his historical research; travel journals, photographs and slides; diaries; a small number of letters; and other published and unpublished material relating to his historical research.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas: History  Local History  Architecture  Art

More on Hodgkin (Thomas) (Historian) Archive...

Bell (Gertrude) Papers

Papers of explorer and archaeologist Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell (1868-1926), consisting of letters to her family, her diaries and a number of miscellaneous items, as well as her extensive photographic archive.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Archaeology   History   Politics   Political History

More on Bell (Gertrude) Archive...

Heversham Tracts (Heversham Grammar School, Westmorland)

The Library of Heversham Grammar School in Westmorland. The Library was intended for the use of neighbouring clergy as well as for the masters and pupils of the School, and books were also given by local gentry and former pupils.  The collection consists mainly of editions of classical or theological authors, with approximately half of the volumes having been printed before 1700 and a few before 1600.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Classics and Ancient History  Philosophy

More on Heversham Grammar School Tracts...

Mediaeval Manuscripts

Include Petrus Lombardus' Sententiæ from the Thirteenth Century; an illuminated Vitæ Sanctorum, or Saints lives; an early-fifteenth-century Sarum Missal decorated with penwork flourishing, and border ornaments; a fifteenth-century breviary; and a fifteenth-century horae, or book of hours.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Classics and Ancient History

More on Mediaeval Manuscripts...

Bell (Gertrude) Collection

2,000 books on Arabic and Persian languages, and on the history and antiquities of Arabia, Iraq and the Near East that formed part of Gertrude Bell's working library.


Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Archaeology   History   Politics   Political History

More on Bell (Gertrude) Collection...

Fletcher Collection

Books bequeathed by Newcastle University's Professor G.B.A. Fletcher (1903-1995) of the Department of Classics, containing antiquarian editions of classical texts, written in Latin, Ancient Greek and in English translations.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Classics and Ancient History

More on Fletcher Collection...

Cowen (Joseph) Tracts

Almost two thousand pamphlets which were formerly owned by local (radical) M.P., Joseph Cowen (1829-1900). The tracts date mostly from the mid- to late-Nineteenth Century and reflect Cowen's interest in the social, educational, political and economic issues of the day.

Type of Material: Rare Books / Published Material

Subject Areas:  History  Political History  Politics

More on Cowen (Joseph) Tracts...

Wilcox (Edwin) Archive

Papers of Edwin Wilcox (fl. 1917). Wilcox was a newspaper correspondent in Russia during the 1917 Revolution and civil war and, before that, Berlin correspondent to The Daily Telegraph, and regularly contributed to journals including the Fortnightly Review as well as publishing two books on political and social issues.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  International History  Political History  Politics

More on Wilcox Papers...

Loebl (Herbert) Archive

Herbert Loebl moved to the North East of England as a refugee from Nazi Germany and remained in the area for the rest of his life, becoming an important industrialist in the region and a major employer.  Loebl specialised in the production of high-tech scientific equipment focussed mainly on the newly emerging medical laboratory analysis market.

This collection consists of business records for the various engineering and knowledge transfer enterprises with which Herbert Loebl was involved in his lifetime, and also a collection of personal records which cover a large range of topics including local events in Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumbria and events within the local Jewish community.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Electrical and Electronic Engineering   Manufacturing Engineering   Bioengineering   Knowledge Transfer   Business   Export   Marketing   Social History   Political History

More on Loebl (Herbert) Archive...

Hair (Thomas) Illustrations

This collection of illustrations by local artist Thomas Hair (c.1810-1875) depicts the mining industry and the coal trade in the North East in the nineteenth century. The illustrations are based on Hair's watercolours on the same topic. The illustrations in the collection highlight numerous aspects of the region's mining heritage, including collieries, machinery, and river trade scenes. Many of the illustrations also show the everyday workings of the industry and those involved in it.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas: Art   History   Local History   Engineering

More on Hair (Thomas) Illustrations...


Northumberland Handicrafts Guild Archive

The Northumberland Handicrafts Guild was formed at a meeting held on 9th June 1900 and its aim was to promote the study of handicrafts in the County of Northumberland. There was a particular emphasis on embroidery, woodwork, basket work, leather work and weaving. Prominent members of the committee include Thomas Edward Hodgkin, Richard George Hatton, Ella Pease and Miss Noble. 

This archive comprises of the annual reports of the organisation 1900 - 1936, together with a small collection of other constitutional and committee records. The collection includes also accounting material for the period 1930 - 1947 and press cuttings related to the activities of the Guild. Part of the archive is dedicated to mementos and the embroidery work of Margaret Scott, a member of the Guild in the early 1900s.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas: Local History    Arts and Culture

More on Northumberland Handicrafts Guild Archive...

Alnwick Union Workhouse Archive

Report of the Workhouse Committee upon the subject of the charges brought by Mr Carr, the Clerk of the Board, against Mr Johnson, the Master of the Workhouse, in regards to misappropriation of food intended for the inmates. 

The examined evidence includes a vastly detailed record of the finances and the purchases of the workhouse over a six-month period, such as the weekly consumption of different commodities from bread and beef to split peas and soap, which could be of considerable interest to the social and economic historian. Other material includes the detail of Carr’s charges, minutes of the meetings at which they were considered, witness statements and documents revealing the care with which Alnwick Workhouse was managed.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas: Social History    Economic History    Local History

More on Alnwick Union Workhouse Archive...