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Arts and Cultures: Archives and Special Collections

Useful news and help with information resources within and beyond the Library for anyone studying in the School of Arts and Cultures 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.

Stanford Collection

Comprises the musical manuscripts (published and otherwise) of Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) and was brought together by Dr. Frederick Hudson, at one time a member of staff in Newcastle University's Department of Music. The collection, representing approximately seventy-five percent of Stanford's output (symphonies, operas, chamber, concerto, piano and organ works, church music and choral works), includes autograph manuscripts and photocopies of autographs, as well as transcripts of Stanford's letters to The Times, essays and articles.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Music

More on Stanford (Charles Villiers) Archive...

Bradshaw-Bewick Collection

Works by and relating to the engraver Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), particularly reflecting his interests in the natural world, and morals and fables.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Fine Art  History  Literature

More on Bradshaw-Bewick Collection...

Barlow (David) Papers

A large number of the musical manuscripts of the twentieth-century British composer David Barlow (1927-1975), formerly a lecturer in the Department of Music at Newcastle University, although it is not a complete collection of his works. The material comprises over 100 items which cover the musical genres of orchestral, opera, choral, songs, solo works, instrumental and chamber music.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Music

More on Barlow (David) Archive...


Comprises books which were produced in the infancy of printing, and specifically before 1500, including the first printed book on architecture.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  History  Printing

More on Incunabula...

Donaldson (Sir Liam) Collection

Material relating to the 15th Chief Medical Officer for England and Chancellor of Newcastle University Sir Liam Donaldson. Includes published and unpublished material covering Sir Liam's early professional career and achievements in public health and health care management in the Northern and Yorkshire regions. The majority of material relates to his time as Chief Medical Officer from 1998 - 2010, covering his major health and health care campaigns, including published reports and contextual material related to these reports.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Medicine and Surgery  Public Health  Political History  Politics  Social History  Media

More on Donaldson (Sir Liam) Archive...

Vernon (Hugh) Collection

This is a small collection comprising 26 volumes of printed music and books about music, dating from the Eighteenth and early-Nineteenth Centuries, from the library of the late Hugh Vernon (d. 1975).

Type of Material: Rare Books / Published Material

Subject Areas:  Music

More on Crawhall Collection...

Plowden Papers

Papers of the distinguished public servant Lady Bridget Plowden (1910-2000), including extensive and rich resources reflecting her many areas of concern, including primary education and the promotion of high-quality television broadcasting. Lady Plowden's highest public profile was during the years 1975-1980, when she chaired the Independent Broadcasting Authority, but her most seminal influence on British life was in the 1960s, through the progressive educational philosophy espoused by the Plowden Report on primary education.

Type of Material: Archives

Subject Areas:  Education  Media and Culture  Political History  Politics  Social History

More on Plowden (Lady Bridget) Archive...

Entomology Collection

The Entomology Collection currently contains books on insects which were published between the late-Eighteenth and mid-Nineteenth Centuries, some of which have hand-coloured illustrations. The books are written in English, French or German, for the most part, with some in Latin.

Type of Material: Rare Books

Subject Areas:  Biology  Fine Art  Zoology

More on Entomology Collection...

The Courier Archive

As the voice of Newcastle University students, The Courier has always been an expression of student news, views, and opinions relating to campus life and how the University operates.

This site allows you to search and browse over 65 years of reporting from the first edition in 1948, when the University was still known as King's College. We have created this as a resource for current students, alumni, family of alumni, and anyone interested in seeing how our University changed in a changing world.

Type of Material: Online Archive Site

Subject Areas: General

More on The Courier Archive Online ...

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...