The period 1500-1900 encompasses the department's major collections of 17th-century political papers and literary manuscripts; antiquarian and topographical manuscripts of the 17th to the 19th centuries; estate records, deeds and rolls from the medieval period onwards; private papers of individual politicians, diplomats, journalists, writers, scientists, scholars, churchmen and other public figures; and many miscellaneous collections of papers and single items. There are many manuscript collections which cross the artificial boundaries of the period 1500 to 1900. Information about 19th century political papers, for example, can be found on the Modern Political Papers home page, and many political collections span the 19th and 20th centuries.
Descriptions of 16th-19th century papers will be found in the 'Quarto' series of catalogues, the Summary Catalogue, and its published continuation; there are also published and unpublished calendars of some of the major collections of 16th to 18th-century manuscripts. Of the 'Quarto' catalogues, Ashmole, Rawlinson and Tanner contain descriptions of major 16th- to 17th-century collections; only Rawlinson contains significant 18th-century material (all before c. 1750). The 'Quarto' catalogues contain nothing post-1750. Catalogues of papers from the period 1500-1900 will be found in the unpublished continuation of the summary catalogues, which comprises descriptions of manuscripts acquired since 1975. There is also a series of separate catalogues of larger collections. These unpublished catalogues are available in Duke Humfrey's Library and in the Modern Papers Reading Room. A card index to post-1916 accessions is available in Duke Humfrey's Library.
This page will in due course link to descriptions of unpublished catalogues, and to online catalogues of collections and single manuscripts whose dates entirely or partly fall within the date range 1500-1900.
Department of Special
Collections and Western Manuscripts
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