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Manuscript collections at St Andrews
Since the earliest days of its existence, the University of St Andrews Library has been collecting manuscripts in order to fulfil its role of supporting the teaching and research of the University.
In 1959 a Manuscripts Department was established for the specialised care of this type of material. Since then, many and diverse manuscripts and manuscript collections have been added to the Library's holdings, making the department a vital component of the Library's support for teaching and research within the University, an important centre for historical studies in the wider academic community, and a public resource centre.
It thus holds an eclectic collection of manuscripts, ranging in date and subject from Greek papyri and medieval philosophical treatises to modern business records. The manuscripts are of widely varying nature: single volumes, letters or documents, as well as collections relating to individuals, families and institutions, organisations and movements. Most manuscripts are owned by the Library, but some are deposited by their owners under terms and conditions which vary widely.
The Collection is particularly strong in material relating to the North-East Fife locality, including estate, architectural and business records as well as (on deposit by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland) the records of the former North-East Fife Burghs, and the Presbytery and Kirk Session Records of the former Presbyteries of Cupar and St Andrews.
Other strengths include papers relating to individuals or studies connected with the University, particularly 19th century science and literature (including large collections of manuscripts relating to some of the great scientists of their day, such as D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson), and a fine collection of theological material - particularly relating to the Roman Catholic Modernist Movement. There is also a small, but high-quality, collection of oriental items, mostly in Arabic, Persian or Turkish, and containing some specimens dating from the middle ages to the nineteenth century.
Material on microforms
The manuscript collections are also enhanced by extensive series of microfilms of important material held elsewhere - including, for instance, English State Papers, Harleian Manuscripts, papers from the Lambeth Palace Archives, as well as the census returns for Fife and other local material. A hard copy list of manuscripts on microfilm is available in the department.
The Manuscript collections are open to all. You can search our online catalogue via the search box above. We are still working on inputting hard-copy lists and indices into the database, so some finding aids are still only available in the Department, others are currently accessible as pdfs on the relevant webpages.