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Durham University

Special Collections

News Archive

The Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship programme

Prince Abbas Hilmi, Chairman of the Trustees of the Mohamed Ali Foundation, Professor Anoush Ehteshami, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge, at the inauguration of the Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship programme on 29 June 2018.

The 9-year Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship programme was inaugurated on 29 June with the donation to the university of £114,000 by the Foundation. Fellows will research the Abbas Hilmi II Papers and produce lectures and ultimately an edited volume in 2027.

(13 Jul 2018) » More about Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship

Public lecture: 'Better than before? Comparing Moscow’s Cold War and Putin-era policies toward Arabia and the Gulf'

Image of Professor Mark Katz

The 2018 Sir William Luce Fellow Professor Mark Katz's research currently focuses on Russian foreign policy, especially towards the Middle East, and the international dimensions of revolution. Against the backdrop of years of conflict, still rising tensions, and mass population movements in the Middle East, the recent interventions of Russia in the region have caught the attention of the world. Professor Katz provides a broad view of Russia's historic involvement in the Middle East, and asks how much has really changed.

The lecture takes place on 14 June 2018, 12:00 to 13:00, at the Sir James Knott Hall, Trevelyan College. Professor Mark N. Katz teaches at the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University.

(1 Jun 2018)

Malcolm MacDonald Papers: newly released material

The Malcolm MacDonald Papers catalogue has now been updated with the latest (March 2018) return of documents formerly retained by the FCO. The last such return was in 1996.

(17 May 2018)

Time Machines: the past, the future, and how stories take us there

Exhibition logo: Time Machines: the past, the future, and how stories take us there

Palace Green Library, 27 May - 3 September 2017

How big is time? And what will the future be like?

The sheer enormity of time is a mind-bending concept - one which humans have always tried to measure and understand. Step through a portal and journey through time as we reveal how advances in science allowed authors to create stories that transport us to the distant past, parallel universes, and future worlds.

See H.G. Wells’s original manuscript for The Time Machine, unravel other stories which play with time, and find out how stories help us to make sense of time and our place within it.

(22 Mar 2017)

Sudan Archive Visiting Library Fellow: Martin Agwella

Martin Ochaya Lino Agwella, 2017 Sudan Archive Visiting Library Fellow, Durham University

We are delighted to announce that the inaugural Sudan Archive Visiting Library Fellowship has been awarded to Martin Ochaya Lino Agwella, who is researching indigenous peacemaking in South Sudan. A fuller description of his research subject is published on the Centre for Contemporary African History (DUCCAH) blog. The fellowship is part funded from the Wood Bequest, with accommodation granted by Grey College. Fellows, who will research principally in the Sudan Archive, will be appointed annually and will be resident in Durham during the Easter term. We look forward to welcoming Martin Agwella in April 2017.

(7 Oct 2016)

Understanding the Yemeni crisis: the transformation of tribal roles in recent decades

Image of Helen Lackner (2016 Sir William Luce Fellow)

Helen Lackner, the 2016 Sir William Luce Fellow, provides an analysis of tribes and their changed nature and relationship to other social groups in Yemen since the 1960s. Although subject to much misunderstanding and prejudice, tribe is still a fundamental element of Yemen’s social fabric, and is therefore important in understanding the various levels of conflict in the country. Her paper is the seventeenth in the Sir William Luce Fellowship Papers series.

(25 Aug 2016) » More about Understanding the Yemeni crisis

Understanding the Yemeni crisis: the changing role of tribes and others

Image of Helen Lackner (2016 Sir William Luce Fellow)

The 2016 Sir William Luce public lecture will be delivered by Yemen specialist Helen Lackner in the Sir James Knott Hall, Trevelyan College on Thursday 9th June 2016 at 12.00 pm.

The Luce lectures and their accompanying published papers commemorate the long and distinguished career of Sir William Luce GBE, KCMG, DL (1907-1977) in the Middle East during the era of the transfer of power.

(1 May 2016)

Somme 1916: from Durham to the Western Front

Banner image: Somme 1916 exhibition at Palace Green Library, Durham University 25 March-2 October 2016

Palace Green Library, 25 March–2 October 2016

100 years on, this commemorative exhibition will explore the reality of the Battle of the Somme through the eyes of the people from County Durham who were there.

(9 Mar 2016) » More about Somme 1916: from Durham to the Western Front

Cathedral Library antiquarian and music collections

The cathedral library's music and antiquarian collections, (Surtees, Raine, Randall, Allan, Longstaffe, Sharp, Hunter), have now been returned from Palace Green Library to the cathedral's care, and consequently will no longer be available for consultation in the Barker Research Library. News on when they will again become available for research purposes will be published on the cathedral library's website.

(16 Feb 2016)

North East England Tourism Awards 2015

On Tuesday 24 November 2015, our summer exhibition, Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt snapped up two awards at the North East England Tourism Awards 2015.

(9 Dec 2015) » More about North East England Tourism Awards 2015

Earlier closing time for Lumiere Festival

Durham’s Lumiere festival will be on between 12-15 November 2015 and Palace Green Library will be closing at the earlier time of 4pm. The festival may cause some disruption to travel for visitors to Palace Green Library. For full details about road closures and which areas of the city are ticketed, please visit the Durham County Council website.

(6 Nov 2015)

Antarctica : Explorers, Heroes, Scientists

Antarctica : Explorers, Heroes, Scientists

Palace Green Library, 17 October 2015-7 February 2016

This winter, our exhibitions consider the Polar Regions, focusing particularly on the discovery, exploration and ongoing work taking place in Antarctica. This includes two spectacular exhibitions on loan from the Royal Geographical Society, alongside displays exploring how men and women from the North East of England have contributed to our understanding of this most recently discovered continent, from the work of Captain Cook to Durham University scientists who are working in Antarctica today.

(20 Aug 2015) » More about Antarctica : Explorers, Heroes, Scientists

Talks, operas and parties celebrate opening of Magna Carta exhibition

June sees not only the opening of Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, but the start of a fascinating range of Magna Carta events and activities in Durham city.

(18 May 2015) » More about Talks, operas and parties celebrate opening of Magna Carta exhibition

Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt

Poster image for the Magna Carta exhibition.

Palace Green Library, 1 June-31 August 2015

Marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, this special exhibition will feature the only surviving 1216 issue of the charter.

Magna Carta was first sealed in 1215 by King John. The concession it has come to represent – that all authority can be limited by law – was extracted from the king by a group of barons who chose political engagement over passive obedience. As such they were acting no longer as loyal subjects, but as rebellious citizens.

(10 Apr 2015) » More about Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt

On Seeing the Author: Portraits in Libraries from Antiquity to the Present

New exhibition opening 30 January 2015

For millennia, people watching plays, listening to songs and poetry, and reading books have understood that an author was responsible for the words they are experiencing. Thinking about the author has always been important in thinking about the words themselves. The Living Poets research project in Durham University’s Classics and Ancient History Department explores how people have imagined ancient authors over time. It also considers how readers and listeners imagine authors look, as a way of thinking about their works.

(19 Jan 2015) » More about On Seeing the Author

Vietnam: A Nation not a War

New exhibition opening 30 January 2015

This exhibition mixes historic and contemporary objects from Vietnam with contemporary works by British artist Anthony Key to explore national identity, migration, cultural diversity, faith and belonging in Vietnam. Building on research currently being undertaken at Durham University, the exhibition looks beyond stereotypes and familiar associations with the Vietnam War to bring the Vietnamese nation and its diverse ethnic groups to life for the visitor.

(19 Jan 2015) » More about Vietnam: A Nation not a War

Durham Probate Records Online

Family Search

Images of Durham Diocese probate records are now freely available online via our probate catalogue.

(17 Nov 2014) » More about Durham Probate Records Online

Durham Tithe Records Online

Archdeacon Newton Tithe Plan (detail)

Images of Durham Diocese tithe plans and apportionments are now freely available, linked from the catalogue entry for each tithe district.

(17 Nov 2014) » More about Durham Tithe Records Online

Explore Your Archive: Commemorating World War One

Explore Your Archive poster
10-14th November 2014 from 15:00 to 16:00

Palace Green Library

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War Palace Green Library will host a series of free talks focusing on different aspects of our collections. Volunteers are also being sought for a University Roll of Service project. Talks will take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

(6 Nov 2014) » More about Explore Your Archive

Bound to Last: Book Binding from the Middle Ages to the Modern Day

Bound to Last poster
4 October 2014-4 January 2015

History of the Book Gallery

Explore the history of bookbinding through a range of incredible books.

(4 Oct 2014) » More about Bound to Last

Books for Boys: Heroism, Adventure & Empire at the Dawn of the First World War

Books for Boys poster
27 September 2014-11 January 2015

Dennyson Stoddart Gallery

This exhibition explores boyhood during the earliest years of the twentieth century and the cultural environment that shaped a generation.

(16 Sep 2014) » More about Books for Boys

Living on the Hills: 10,000 years of Durham

Image of oil painting of Durham City from the North West.

Wolfson Gallery

The Wolfson Gallery is the new home for displays from the Museum of Archaeology. This permanent exhibition uses objects from Museum of Archaeology, alongside objects from across Durham University and other regional museums to explore the last 10,000 years of Durham. 

(16 Jul 2014) » More about Living on the Hills

Courtyard Café

Image of the Courtyard Café

The Courtyard Café is now open at Palace Green Library. Open 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. every day, the café serves hot and cold drinks, snacks and light meals, including gluten and dairy free options - all with a Cathedral view!

(23 Jun 2014) » More about Courtyard Café

Study Day: Diving into Durham, Saturday 14 June

Explore the history of Durham City and its people through this ground-breaking collection of underwater archaeology from the River Wear. In a free Study Day designed for interested members of the public you will learn about the research and conservation work now being undertaken at Durham University on these finds, and also gain a rare insight into the process of creating an exhibition based on this research.

(5 Jun 2014) » More about Study Day

From gold to Godzilla: opening of a new Japanese exhibition, 17 May 2014

Image of movie poster for 'Son of Godzilla' (1967).

The art and culture of Japan varies from the exquisite to the outrageous, the ceremonial to the unexpected and the ancient to the cutting edge. Two new exhibitions opening on Saturday 17 May at Durham University’s Palace Green Library celebrate this diversity.


(7 May 2014) » More about From gold to Godzilla

Building work at Palace Green Library, January - May 2014

Artist's impression of the new café.

Due to building work elsewhere on the Palace Green Library site to create an education room and a café, there may be background noise in the Barker Research Library until mid-May 2014. We apologise for this and hope it will not disrupt your work.

(10 Mar 2014)

Friends of Palace Green Library: Viewing the Collections

Image of a reader in Cosin's Library.

On Thursday 27 February members of the Special Collections team will highlight interesting and unusual items from our archives to the Friends of the Library. The talks and display will begin at 14:30 and will be followed by tea in the Deane Room.

Friends of the Library may contact for more information about this event.

(24 Feb 2014)

Robots Live is coming to Palace Green!


If you loved Robot Wars, you'll love Robots Live! During the February school half-term, robots will be battling it out on Palace Green in an exciting show for all the family. Come and see the UK’s most popular live robotics show, with heavyweight robot fights, house robot BattleAxe and a mechanical boxing match. The robots will be battling it out in a specially designed combat arena on the Durham World Heritage Site that holds a few surprises of its own!

And if that’s not enough, admission to Palace Green Library's ROBOT exhibition is free with your Robots Live ticket! In this exhibition for all the family, you’ll meet some of your favourite robot, cyborg and android stars. Some are friendly, others helpful, and a few are simply scary...

(4 Feb 2014)

The Barker Research Library at Palace Green

On 14 October 2013, full reading room services reopened at Palace Green Library in the splendidly refurbished Barker Research Library in the Pace Building. All Special Collections’s books and archives are available there in the searchroom and the Local Studies and History of the Book collections have returned to open access to readers. All this will be accessible Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. The searchroom at 5 The College has reverted to opening three days per week, Wednesday to Fridays from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm for researchers into the Cathedral’s archive only.

(14 Oct 2013)

Torchlit Tales

Torchlit Tales

Palace Green Library, Friday 30 October, 18:00-20:00

Join us for a special evening event where we explore the building by torchlight and listen to stories of adventure, discovery and heroism. To celebrate Museums at Night visitors will be taken on a journey through our galleries and into parts of the building not normally seen by the public so book early to make sure you don’t miss out!

Suitable for children under 12 and all young at heart adults. Please book your place in advance by emailing

(16 Aug 2015)

Sir William Luce Fellowship 2018

The Sir William Luce Fellowship is awarded annually to a scholar at post-doctoral level, diplomat, politician, or business executive, whose work relates to Iran, the Gulf states, South Arabia and Sudan. The 2018 Fellowship will hosted by Durham University during the Easter term (24 April-23 June). The Fund is looking for research proposals that examine historic aspects of Iran, the Gulf States, South Arabia and Sudan that throw light on contemporary events. The deadline for applications is Friday 8 September 2017. Full details of the Fellowship and the application process are available at

(20 Jun 2017)

The Seven Treasures: Japanese enamels from the V&A

Japanese Enamelware. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Dennyson Stoddart Gallery, 17 May – 31 August 2014


An exhibition of cloisonné enamelware from the V&A, the Oriental Museum and other collections in the north east.

(18 May 2014) » More about The Seven Treasures

Off the wall: the art of the Japanese movie poster

Image of movie poster for 'Son of Godzilla' (1967).

Palace Green Library, 17 May to 31 August 2014


Explore a graphic world of gangsters, monsters, samurai and cartoon characters from a Golden Age of Japanese cinema.

(18 May 2014) » More about Off the wall