mobile menu decorative search icon decorativeSearch the site

Using manuscripts

image - Illustrated manuscript


Holdings of individual manuscripts now cover more than fifty languages, including all the major European and Middle Eastern languages, and numerous South Asian and Far Eastern ones too. Chronologically, they span from the 3rd millennium BC to the 20th century.

There is a very wide range of formats, and virtually every medium that has ever been used for writing can be found in our collections. The subject range is also vast, encompassing literary, historical, antiquarian, genealogical, biblical, devotional, ritualistic, medical, scientific, legal and administrative texts.

Find out more

The Guide to Special Collections provides an overview of our manuscripts collections. For each collection there is a brief summary of contents and references to online catalogues and other sources of information.

Very few of our manuscripts collections have detailed online catalogues, although we are working hard to improve the situation. In most cases, we still rely on printed catalogues published in the 20th century, although many of these are now available as scanned PDFs.

Images from many of our manuscripts are available online via our Image Collection.

Contact us

Some collections are not yet fully catalogued.

For advice on material not covered by the online catalogue, or for any other enquiries relating to the manuscript collections, please contact us.