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Archives and Special Collections: International Sources: Home


The Archives and Special Collections provide a rich resource for researching world history and cultures, and chronicle centuries of British interventions and contributions. Offering material from the 8th to the 21st centuries, from the Durham See's 11th-century Scottish endowments to the Act of Union, from colonial India, Africa and Canada to post-war European federalism, from Zulu hymns to papers of American poet Louis Zukofsky to a Taoist weather manual - there is much to discover!

A geographical tour is provided in the accompanying sections, which attempt to show no more than particular highlights in the collections. Supporting all of these regional strengths are of course our printed collections, notably the Cosin, Routh and Bamburgh libraries which contain many rare examples of the work of European thinkers and printing houses from the 15th-20th centuries. Notably, the library of Bishop Cosin (1595-1672) includes a large number of rare French protestant works probably collected during his exile in Paris, and the Bamburgh and Routh libraries also contain works of European history, literature and travel.

In addition, the libraries of G.B. Elliott (1918-1994) and C.E.M. Kellett (1903-1978) provide collections on the history of cryptography and medicine with good international dimensions. The library of the university's former School of Oriental Studies also offers a large collection of rare and important works ranging in subject from North Africa to the Far East. The archive of the Cremation Society of Great Britain also includes extensive collections of international serials and newspaper cuttings on the theme of cremation and burial practices, and the G.K. Whitehead collection reflects his lifetime interest in the health, hunting, behaviour, control and farming of deer throughout the world.

There are also strong international aspects to the Western Art collection, and the literary and musical collections of figures such as poet Basil Bunting (1900-1985), writers Harold Heslop (1898-1983), William Plomer (1903-1973), and Laurens van der Post (1906-1996), composers Else Headlam-Morley (1865-1950), Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), and Ezra Rachlin (1915-1995), and the collections of the Allegri String Quartet and the Pratt Green hymnological library.


Click on the linked image below to open the search interface for all our library, archive and museum collections.  Further guidance for searching the archives and special collections is available on our website.

discover interface for book collections


About our collections

Rare and Early Printed Books
Churches and Religion
Sudan Archive
Medieval Manuscripts
Local and Family History
Durham University Records
Durham Cathedral Collections
International Sources
Digitised Collections Online
Music, Literature and the Arts
Other Collections and Subjects

Subject guides

The collections mentioned in this guide could be useful for a range of academic subjects taught at Durham University. The guides listed below also have information about other relevant resources.

Collection highlights

Archivist filmed with medieval deed in Palace Green Library

Archives and Special Collections podcasts and films

Online exhibitions (archive, library, museum and art collections)

Durham University Library and Collections blog

Archives and Special Collections Item of the Month

Durham Priory Library project blog

Binchester Exposed (Archaeology exhibition)