Modern Manuscripts and Archives

Manuscripts and archives from the year 1801 to the present day.

The Bodleian holds one of the world’s largest and most wide-ranging collections of archives and manuscripts. The modern holdings (1801-) provide excellent sources for:

  • British political, diplomatic, social and economic history, including the personal archives of seven prime ministers, and the official archive of the Conservative Party.
  • The politics, economics and social development of African and Commonwealth countries during the colonial and post-colonial period, including the personal archives of former colonial administrators.
  • International development and international relations, including the archive of Oxfam GB as well as the personal archives of many former United Nations personnel.
  • British literature, including the Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite movements of the 19th century (particularly Shelley and his circle); writers connected to the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement; Oxford-related authors of all periods, including coherent groups of writers (eg. the Inklings and the ‘Pylon poets’); and many others.
  • Science and medicine, including the archives of individual scientists and physicians connected with the University of Oxford, as well as those of scientific organisations, such as the archives of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning.
  • Art history and visual culture, including the archives of photographers, illustrators, engravers, etc., particularly those relevant to the history of the book.

Around 100 modern manuscripts and archives from the Bodleian have been digitized to date, including Mary Shelley's Frankenstein drafts; 30 volumes of William Godwin's diary; an important album of photography by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879); and T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Digital Bodleian also includes the Ashmolean Museum’s Arthur Evans Papers, and post-1800 manuscripts from Oxford college libraries, including Christ Church's Lewis Carroll collection.

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