About the archives and manuscripts

The Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections holds archives and manuscript collections of national and international importance which span more than ten centuries. These collections are a unique and invaluable resource for teaching, learning and research. We are committed to actively promoting our collections so as to maximise their potential for use by the wider community.

Archive strengths

Our particular strengths in archives and manuscripts include:

  • missionary archives
  • 19th and 20th century political papers
  • modern literary collections
  • records of Christian education and youth movements.

Other areas of interest which are well-represented in our collections include archives relating to athletics, music, drama, religion, history of medicine travel, local history, printing and calligraphy. In addition, we have the largest collection of illuminated Middle Eastern manuscripts in the UK and a significant number of important medieval and early modern manuscripts.

What is in the archives

Our collections include papers of individuals and families and the records of societies, businesses and organisations. They can vary in size, from a single item to an extensive archive running to several hundred boxes of papers and volumes. Their content may include:

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • minutes
  • financial records
  • legal documents
  • maps and plans
  • photographs
  • printed materials.

Information about our collections can be found in a number of ways:

  • the online archive catalogue which includes both collection descriptions and more detailed catalogues of collections
  • the summary guide to collections which also serves as a signpost to more information available on the online catalogue
  • resource guides to subjects, to specific collections and to types of records

Further resources

  • The ARCHON Directory, which provides contact details for archive services in the UK
  • The National Register of Archives, which provides information about the nature and location of archives manuscripts relating to British history
  • The A2A database, which contains catalogues describing archive collections held by archive services England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day
  • The Archives Hub, national gateway to descriptions of archives in UK universities and colleges
  • Mundus, a gateway to missionary collections in the UK
  • Genesis, a gateway to Women’s History Sources in the British Isles
  • Backstage, a performing arts gateway to collections in the UK