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Art & Special Collections

The Special Collections within the Library Services broken down into different themes.

Alport Papers

This collection includes the political and personal papers of Lord Alport, M.P. for Colchester division of Essex (1950-61); Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, 1957-1959; Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, 1959-1961; British High Commissioner in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1961-63; a Deputy Speaker, House of Lords, 1971-82, 1983-94; Adviser to the Home Secretary, 1974-82; High Steward of Colchester, 1967-. Of particular note are his papers concerning the 'One Nation' group (1951-56) and correspondence and papers as Special Representative to Rhodesia, June-July 1967.

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Bassingbourn Parish Library *

Purchased jointly by the Universities of Cambridge and Essex in 1969, this collection consists of nearly 400 titles mainly theological in character. It includes 19 sixteenth-century titles, and 253 seventeenth-century titles.

Hervey Benham Sound Archive

Comprising approximately 1400 tape cassettes, the Hervey Benham Sound Archive is a rich source for local history research, covering many aspects of Colchester and Essex life. As well as "whole life" interviews there are themed series on topics such as agriculture, the Colchester & East Essex Cooperative Society, and World War II. Transcript summaries exist for some recordings. This growing collection was put on permanent deposit by the Colchester Recalled Oral History Group in 1999.

Lord Brimelow Papers

Papers of the late Thomas Brimelow (Ambassador, Poland 1966-69; Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office 1969-73; Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office & Head of Diplomatic Service 1973-75). The papers include lecture notes, correspondence and newspaper cutting relating to the Cold War during the period 1956-1988, together with material concerning repatriation and the Yalta Repatriation Agreement, and the obligation to carry out an agreement. The collection includes typescript drafts (incomplete) of a text in preparation, 'The Yalta Repatriation Agreements', with photocopies of associated Foreign Office and War Office papers dating from 1944-1947.

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Colchester Medical Society Library

This collection comprises approximately 500 historical books placed on permanent deposit by the Society in April 2008. The books, colloquially known as the Penfold Collection, were previously housed at Essex County Hospital and at the Postgraduate Medical Centre at Colchester General Hospital. The volumes include early treatises on surgery, anatomy, illness and disease, and are likely to be of major interest to scholars of both the history and sociology of medicine. The collection has been catalogued, and individual works are searchable in the Library catalogue. In addition, the following Minute books and other manuscript volumes were deposited by the Society in August 2012. In 2014 documents relating to Colchester General Hospital were similarly acquired.

List of books (Excel file)

Colchester Medical Society website

Colchester's Caring Past website

Colchester Recalled Oral History Group

Colchester Recalled is a voluntary group compiling an archive of recorded memories about Colchester & District over the past 120 years. They have completed more than 3,550 hours of recording, mostly interviews with over 1,500 local people, but also live recordings of local events as they happened (for example the Woolworths Fire of 1973).

For non-University members, take a look at the For Historians page on the Colchester Recalled website.

Colchester Recalled Website

Leonore Davidoff Collection

This collection comprises 70 rare and specialist volumes, mainly dating from the 19th century, amassed by the eminent historian and sociologist Leonore Davidoff (1932-2014) in the course of her research into women’s and family lives. Professor Davidoff, who was associated with the University’s Department of Sociology from 1969, was a generous donor to the Library during her lifetime. The books in this significant niche collection – which encompass children’s literature, women’s fiction, polite literature, women’s conduct books, and volumes on domestic manners and morals – were donated to the Library by her family in May 2015. The books are kept together as a unit in Special Collections.

Essex Society For Archaeology & History Library *

The largest collection to come into the Albert Sloman Library to date, it was placed on permanent deposit in 2000, and continues to be augmented with regular additions by the Society. The library comprises some 15,000 volumes acquired over the last 150 years or so, with particularly fine coverage of archaeology, antiquities, ancient and modern history (notably local history), and related subjects. It includes several hundred periodicals and newsletters, many received from similar county societies, and the current runs continue to be maintained. The Society's collection of rare books has also been transferred to the Library. This is comprised of some 600 volumes, including some Civil War tracts. Primarily a resource for members of the Society, its use by other bona-fide researchers for reference is permissible on request.

Essex Society For Family History Collection

Since 1977 the ESFH has deposited in the Library various family history periodicals, most of which are shelved in store at classmark CS 1. In addition, the Society has deposited transcripts of Essex Parish Registers and lists of Monumental Inscriptions in Essex Churches, which are kept as a special collection.

First World War Centenary Community Collection

Between 2010 and 2019 the National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund) invested £98 million in communities and groups across the UK to conserve and share their First World War heritage and create a greater understanding of the impact of the conflict. Deposited with the Library in 2019, through the good offices of Karen Brookfield of the Heritage Fund and Professor Lucy Noakes of the Department of History, the collection is comprised of books, leaflets, postcards, catalogues, flyers, DVDs and CDs produced by groups who received funding for national, local and community history projects commemorating the centenary of the War. The more substantial publications in the collection are currently being added to the Library catalogue and are searchable in the usual way. 

Amy Zahl Gottlieb Collection *

Amy Zahl Gottlieb worked from 1944 to 1952 for the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF), then went to America to take up a post at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign where she started a programme in holocaust education, and returned to Britain in the late 1980s to act as the CBF’s honorary historian and archivist. She donated her personal library, and some 46 reels of microfilm, reproducing the Archives of the Central British Fund and the text of the Jewish Chronicle from 1937 to 1939, to the Library in 2002. The collection contains approximately 200 books relating to the Holocaust, Jewish history, and Anti-Semitism. It also contains books on a range of historic topics, including several works on American immigration.

Michel Haar Archive #

The Archive consists of nine boxes containing the writings, notes and correspondence of Michel Haar, 1937-2003, Professor of Philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris. Haar was an internationally renowned scholar of phenomenology who wrote extensively on both Heidegger and Nietzsche. His papers came to the Library in August 2005 through the good offices of Dr Beatrice Han-Pile. The catalogue to the Archive was compiled by Dr Adrian Samuel.

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Harsnett Collection

This collection consists of some 900 books comprising the personal library of Samuel Harsnett, 1561-1631, Archbishop of York, 1629-1631. Many of the books are polemical treatises relating to contemporary controversies between the Churches of England and Rome, as well as works on theological subjects published throughout Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The collection contains several incunabula as well as one book from the library of King Henry VIII.

T.E. Lawrence Letters

Forty four letters of T.E. Lawrence to H.S. Ede, written between 16 June 1927 and 5 April 1935. The letters were published in 1942 as Shaw-Ede; T.E. Lawrence's letters to H.S. Ede, 1927-1935. The letters were donated by H.S. Ede in 1964.

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Arnold Miller Collection #

This collection is comprised of the professional papers, correspondence and draft publications of Arnold V. Miller, one of the first and most important translators of the works of the philosopher Hegel into the English language. The collection also contains writings by the Czech philosopher and scholar Francis Sedlak, a prominent Hegelian and long-time associate of Miller.

Tony Rich Archive

Donated in 2009 by Dr Tony Rich, Registrar at the University of Essex from 1999 to 2011, the archive consists of 12 boxes of material associated with Dr Rich's 1983 Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, on the development of the Zimbabwe nationalist movement 1963-1980.

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Rickword Collection *

This collection of some 130 books and pamphlets is named after its donor, (John) Edgell Rickword, the poet and literary critic who was born in Colchester in 1898. The main themes of the collection are Irish literature and history, parliamentary and social reform, chartism, and the labour movement. Of particular interest is the collection of volumes and pamphlets by or relating to William Hone, the 19th century bookseller and political satirist.

Rowhedge Collection

The records of the former Rowhedge Ironworks Company were placed on indefinite deposit with the Library in 1969 by the Essex Record Office. The records cover the period 1904-1964 and represent an almost complete business archive, including over 2,000 major items covering the day-to-day transactions of the shipyard.

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Royal Statistical Society Collection *#

A substantial portion of the library of the Royal Statistical Society, amounting to about 9,000 volumes, was placed on permanent deposit with the Albert Sloman Library in 2000. It consists of back runs of about 30 periodicals, a large book collection, and an important series of tracts - bound volumes of pamphlets on diverse topics. The core of the collection relates to statistics and statistical history, and contains much material of interest in the field of social and economic history, particularly for the 19th and early 20th centuries. The books, periodicals and some 7,500 pamphlets are all listed in our online catalogue..

Russell Collection *

A private library from Stubbers, North Ockendon, a country house now demolished. The books are almost all of the 18th or early 19th centuries, and reflect the interests of three or four generations of Essex country gentlefolk. There are practical works of interest to a county squire such as farming, sport, and law, but the best represented fields are history, topography and travel, and literature. The collection also includes family papers and account books which record the household's day-to-day financial transactions.

Paul Sieghart Memorial Archive *#

This archive consists of 94 boxes of material from the papers of the late Paul Sieghart (1927-1989), law reformer, international arbitrator, writer and past Chairman of Justice (British Section of International Commission of Jurists). The archive includes texts of lectures delivered by Mr. Sieghart, drafts of books and articles, and reviews of his published output. The boxes also contain photocopies of articles from learned journals, press cuttings, and documents and booklets relating to human rights around the world. In 2006 the collection was augmented by approximately 300 French and German volumes on 19th century European history, with particular emphasis on Bismarck and Napoleon.

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Society Of Friends Collection *

This collection consists of the books and manuscripts from the Friends' Meeting House in Colchester and was deposited with the Library in 1978. It includes over 1,000 printed works and nearly 200 bound manuscript Minute and Account books. The Minute books for the Colchester Meetings run from 1667, those for the Coggeshall Meetings from 1695, and those for the Essex Quarterly Meetings from 1711. There are also volumes covering Copford, Kelvedon, Layer Breton, and Manningtree. The collection is particularly valuable for tracing individual Quakers through the various notes of Removals, Condemnations, and Intentions of Marriage. The book Colchester Quakers, by S.H.G. Fitch, classmark BX 7678.C7, is recommended as preliminary reading.

Index to the Society of Friends Archive (pdf)

Spitzer Collection *

The library of the late Paul Spitzer, of Zug, Switzerland, was bequeathed to the University in 1994. The collection consists of some 1,500 volumes, mainly in the fields of modern history and literature.

Ronald Sturt Talking Newspaper Archive

This collection, which extends to some 22 boxes of archival material, is centred around the papers of Ronald Sturt, MBE, founder of the Talking Newspaper Association UK. Ronald Sturt, 1921-2003, onetime head of The Department of Administrative Studies at the College of Librarianship in Aberystwyth and later Chief Librarian and Assistant Provost at the City of London Polytechnic, observed a talking newspaper scheme in operation in Sweden in the 1960s and set up a similar group in Cardiganshire in 1970. This scheme, whereby volunteers recorded the contents of newspapers onto audiotapes for the benefit of the blind and partially sighted, was a great success and soon spread nationwide, leading to the foundation of TNAUK in 1974. In addition to 13 archive boxes containing the administrative records of TNAUK, 1969-2002, the collection also comprises newspaper cuttings, audio/video tapes and TNAUK publications. Two boxes of personal papers relating to the life and work of Ronal Sturt are also retained.

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Papers Of The Third London Airport Controversy #

Newspaper cuttings, correspondence and papers, 1970-1972, relating to the proposal for a Third London Airport at Foulness Island, Essex. In addition to material originally received from Councillor D.C. Wood and Major General W. Odling, the collection was greatly enhanced in 2014 by papers donated by Mr Patrick Arnold, erstwhile Chairman of the Foulness Island Residents Committee. Mr Arnold’s papers include drawings, submissions to the Roskill Commission, correspondence, posters and the manuscript of an unpublished book.

University Of Essex Collection *

In addition to the main University committee papers and minutes, this collection includes foundation papers from the earliest days in July 1959. The archive is supplemented by an extensive collection of early photographs, newspaper cuttings and University calendars and prospectuses from the early 1960s. The collection also includes papers, miscellaneous publications and press cuttings relating to the unrest of 1968 and 1973/74.

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An extensive collection of photographs of the University of Essex from the 1960s onwards. A listing of the physical collection is available here. Digitised versions of the photos can be seen on Flickr and History Pin.