Early Modern Manuscripts and Archives

Western manuscripts and archives from the years 1500 to 1800.

The Bodleian holds one of the world’s largest and most wide-ranging collections of archives and manuscripts. Strengths of the early modern (1500-1800) holdings include major antiquarian and topographical collections from the 17th century onwards, including essential sources for:

  • 17th-18th century British and Irish history, particularly the Civil War, Interregnum and Restoration periods.
  • Britain’s relationship with European states, 1640-1815, with a focus on diplomacy.
  • Britain’s imperial and colonial history, 1600-1800, particularly in the Indian subcontinent (administration of India and trading records) and in the West Indies (slavery and trade).
  • British literature, especially Elizabethan drama and poetry.

A small number of these have been digitized to date, including 'Tradescants' Orchard’, a set of 17th century watercolours of garden fruits; both volumes of John Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica; and Jane Austen's Volume the First.

Digital Bodleian also includes early modern manuscripts from Oxford college libraries, among them a transcript of David Gregory's Notes on Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica held by Christ Church; and John Prideaux's teaching notes from Exeter College.

For catalogue descriptions of the Bodleian’s archives and manuscripts (excluding medieval manuscripts), please see Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts.