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Libraries and Special Collections in County Durham

Politics and Philosophy

From medieval political theory to twentieth-century philosophical thought, the research collections in the region of Durham are an invaluable resource for the study of politics and philosophy.

British Politics

The history of British politics is strongly represented in material held by the Durham University Archives and Special Collections.

Several medieval works on political theory can be found within the Cosin Manuscripts whilst references to eighteenth-century politics are made in the Baker Baker Papers and the Clavering of Greencroft Manuscripts

Other collections relate to nineteenth-century British politics, including the Wylde Family Papers, the Thorp Correspondence and the Earl Grey Family Papers. The Earl Grey Family Papers are particularly valuable for the study of nineteenth-century politics, covering a wide range of topics from proportional representation to parliamentary reform. 

A number of collections relating to twentieth-century British government and politics can also be found in the Durham University Archives and Special Collections. The Jack Lawson Papers include Baron Lawson's recollections of politicians and politics during his time as a Labour MP whilst the papers of MacMichael, H. A. contain correspondence regarding the Paris Peace Conference (1918-19). 

Other relevant collections relating to twentieth-century politics include the Ministry of Labour Data on Unemployment in Great Britain, the Lady Aurea McLeod Papers, the Malcolm MacDonald Papers, the Jevons Papers, the Donald Hawley Papers and the Cromer Papers.

Researchers should also consult the British Official Publications Unit, held by the Bill Bryson Library, which concentrates on British Government publications published by The Stationery Office since 1972. From 1999 the collection has focused on the UK's central government and Parliamentary Publications.

Irish Politics

A small but significant collection of material relating to Irish politics can be found in the Durham University Archives and Special Collections.

The Papers of General Charles Grey relate to the state of Ireland in the nineteenth century whilst the Watkinson Cuttings are largely concerned with the troubles in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1989.

Local politics

A significant volume of material relating to local politics can be found in research collections throughout Durham and the surrounding area. 

The Durham University Archives and Special Collections contain a substantial number of references to local and regional politics, ranging from poll books and election preparations to the recollections of Jack Lawson, Durham Miners' Leader. Relevant collections include the Baker Baker Papers, the Clavering of Greencroft Manuscripts, the Wharton Papers, the Jack Lawson Papers and the Local Collection.

Material relating to local politics and elections can also be found within the Durham County Record Office archives, The Bowes Museum archives and the Tyne and Wear Archives. The latter contains a significant number of political papers as well as voting records for Tyne and Wear.

Ecclesiastical Politics

Research collections concerning ecclesiastical politics and affairs are located throughout the region of Durham.

The Wharton Papers and the Cosin Letter Books, both held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, make several references to British ecclesiastical politics and affairs whilst the papers of General Sir Reginal Wingate, held within the Durham University Sudan Archive, include documents relating to ecclesiastical affairs in the Sudan and Egypt. 

Ushaw College also boasts several collections relating to ecclesiastical politics including the Tate-Slater Letters and the Wiseman Letters, which trace the political and ecclesiastical career of Nicholas Wiseman, who became the first Archbishop of Westminster in 1850.

Colonial politics

The Sudan Archive, held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, provides a crucial insight into colonial politics during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Several collections in the Sudan Archive deal with rebellions and up-risings, such as Balfour, F. C. C. and McNeill, T. whilst others relate to the workings of local government, such as Buchanan, L. M.

Other international colonial policies, such as boundary rectification and diplomatic negotiations, are also represented in the Sudan Archive. Relevant collections include Kelly, H. H.Wingate, General Sir ReginaldHenderson, K. D. D.Robertson, J. W.Luce, W. H. T. and Clayton, G. F. 

Other relevant collections held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections include the Abbas Hilmi II Papers, the Earl Grey Family Papers and the Wylde Family Papers.

African politics

The Sudan Archive, held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, is an invaluable resource for the study of African politics. 

The collections largely reflect the development of Sudanese politics from the 1950s onwards and range from election posters to the papers of political organisations. 

Key collections include Alison, O.C.Bonfanti, A.Bulkeley, R. I. P.M. and M. RussellKirk-Greene, A. H. M. and Daly, M. W.


Several research collections relating to philosophy are held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, including the Karl Britton Papers, the A. S. Farrar Papers and the Jevons Papers

Other philosophical works held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections can be found in Bishop Cosin's Library, the Routh Library and the Bamburgh Library. Together these libraries house the works of philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Confucius and René Descartes.

In addition, a vast range of philosophical material can be found at Ushaw College, which boasts a collection of 8,000 rare philosophical, mathematical and scientific books.

Middle East Documentation Unit

The Middle East Documentation Unit (MEDU) is an invaluable resource held within Durham University's Bill Bryson Library. It contains primary source documents on the economy, politics and society of the contemporary Middle East.

British Official Publications Unit

The Durham University British Official Publications Unit is an extensive collection of British Government publications, published by The Stationery Office since 1972. 

European Documentation Centre

Part of the Durham University Library, the European Documentation Centre houses an astounding collection of publications and documents of the European Union.

Earl Grey Family Papers

The Earl Grey Family Papers are a major source for 18th-century British military history, as well as political, colonial, and diplomatic history of the 19th and early 20th centuries.