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Archives and Special Collections: Churches and Religion: Influential Thinkers and Churchmen

Our collections

We hold the personal and official papers of a number of clergy who have paid a significant role in the life and thought of our North East region, and of the Church of England more generally.  Notable collections are summarised within the following guides:

  • Papers of eminent individuals: John Cosin (bishop of Durham, 1660-1672), William van Mildert (bishop of Durham, 1826-1836)
  • Some local families include a number of influential clergy, notably the Sharp family of Bamburgh and Headlams of Whorlton and Wycliffe
  • Durham Cathedral collections include papers from a number of bishops and other clergy, including Joseph Barber Lightfoot (bishop 1879-1889), Herbert Hensley Henson (bishop 1920-1939) and Ian Ramsey (bishop 1966-1972).

The collections at Ushaw College Library include papers from some of the most important theologians of the last 200 years.  Most notable are:

Palace Green Library holds the papers of Bishop Basil Butler, prominent Catholic theologian and ecumenist. 

Notable collections include:

  • A library compiled for the study of Josephine Butler (1828-1906) and her work campaigning for an end to the Contagious Diseases Acts and other social reforms
  • Philosophical and personal papers of the moral philosopher Mary Midgley (1919-2018)
  • The work of Henry Thompson (1820-1904) and other early supporters of cremation is well represented in the Cremation Society archive.

Availability online (digital images)

With the exception of the letterbooks of Bishop John Cosin, these collections have not been digitised, so that only the catalogues are currently available online.

If you would like to purchase digital copies of specific items from any of our collections, please get in touch.

If you are a member of teaching staff at Durham University and would like to use material from Archives and Special Collections within your lectures or seminars, we may be able to scan or photograph items for this purpose.  Please contact us as early as possible with any teaching digitisation requests.

See also our guide to Digitised Collections Online for further information on our digital resources.

Access to original sources

Our collections are at one of three sites.

  • Palace Green Library: open Monday to Friday (appointments may be required), 10am to 5pm
  • 5 The College: open by appointment, usually Wednesday-Thursday, 9am-4pm
  • Ushaw College Library: open by appointment, currently Monday-Wednesday, 10am-4pm

For further details and to make an appointment, please use the forms at the top of our guide to Visiting us in person.

The linked collections guides show where each collection is available, but if in any doubt please get in touch.

See information on Using Our Collections for further information on accessing our collections and on our facilities and services.