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Durham University

Special Collections

English MA and postgraduates

The following sections describe some resources that may be of use for the research methods and resources module. It also attempts to indicate other material that may be of use for English literature research.

Finding manuscript material online

There is no comprehensive online source which will easily locate manuscript collections in the UK. Some collections are not catalogued and so would not be found even if such a source did exist. The following links are useful starting points:

The UK Archives Hub
A searchable indexed group of collection level descriptions of archival collections held by over 60 higher education institutions in the UK (not all these institutions have catalogued all their collections).

Access to Archives. A rapidly growing assembly of catalogues of material primarily in County Record Offices and some private institutions, with search facilities.

National Register of Archives
The most comprehensive list of archival collections in the UK (and some from abroad about the UK). There are searchable indexes for people, places and businesses. These do not link to online catalogues, but give contact information for the repository holding the material. This is now included within the National Archives' online catalogue Discovery

The American union catalogue of manuscript collections. A more comprehensive list of collections, mainly held in the USA but including some documents held in the UK. A useful additional means of checking for material which may have been exported.


WATCH Writers, artists and their copyright holders

Lists contact details for current holders of literary copyright for authors etc. (jointly run by Harry Ransom Center and University of Reading).

British organisations devoted to literary manuscripts

GLAM: Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts

Group of organisations involved in the collecting, preservation, use and promotion of literary archives and manuscripts in Britain and Ireland. Currently developing a register of archives with holdings of literary manuscripts.