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Durham University

Special Collections

Local collection

All public and academic customers are welcome to use the collection which is located in the Barker Research Library at Palace Green Library. Please read the general description below or use the link on the left for more information about finding the material in the Local Collection.


The Local Collection contains items which have particular relevance to Durham (city/county/diocese/Cathedral/University), as well as items which relate to the geographic area which is roughly defined by Northumberland, Cumbria, Tyne and Wear, Teesside and North Yorkshire (i.e. the historic counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and the North Riding of Yorkshire).


The collection includes a variety of material types, chiefly printed works but with some photographic works on local places, comprising approximately 6500 books, 3000 pamphlets and 1300 periodical volumes. Among these are many local histories and runs of journals produced by societies such as the Surtees Society (which publishes editions of records relating to the North-East), as well as some bulletins produced by smaller Local History societies. The collection also contains

  • pollbooks, chiefly 18th - 19th century election ephemera
  • playbills
  • 18th century Newcastle newspapers, early 19th - 20th century Durham newspapers (some on microfilm)
  • sermons, diaries, directories
  • maps
  • sale and exhibition catalogues
  • other miscellaneous publications, along with some non-published items

Some of the materials are scarce items and others are unique to Durham University Library. Some items are duplicated in our other collections (e.g. Routh). The items provide good coverage of History, Church History, Archaeology, Fine Arts and Literature for the North-East, and Durham in particular. Also covered are Industry, Architecture, Science, Geology, Botany, Zoology, Folklore, Linguistics, Transport and Agriculture for this area.

Items of local interest are also to be found in other Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections: archives, additional manuscripts, and in our holdings of photographs, topographical prints, etc. These collections are described separately. You can find out more about them by following links from the Heritage Collections pages, printed guides, or by asking a member of staff.