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Archives and Special Collections

Durham University's archives and special collections include over 70,000 books published before 1850, medieval manuscripts, maps, prints and photographs.

The development of manuscript and book collections at Durham University began in its earliest days. William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham, who was instrumental in founding the University, presented a foundation collection in January 1833. The University also took custody of Bishop John Cosin's Library, still housed in its original building on Palace Green. Further gifts of rare books and manuscript collections were received, and the University Library expanded to occupy rooms in the 15th century Exchequer building next to Cosin's Library.

All these collections are now housed at Palace Green Library, along with the archives of the University itself, dating back to 1832. They represent a rich resource for learning, teaching and research, and are available for anyone to consult. They also form part of the cultural heritage of Durham and in particular, its World Heritage Site.

Explore our collections

Search Our Collections

Explore our collections online, refine your search results or get in touch for more support.

Durham University Records

About Our Collections

Find out more about the range and depth of each of our collections.

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How to use our collections and get support

  • Using Our Collections

    From making an appointment to research the collections to obtaining permission to publish.

    Ship in a storm painting
  • Academic Support

    Find out how our expert staff can support your teaching, research and impact activities.

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Using Our Collections

From making an appointment to research the collections to obtaining permission to publish.

Ship in a storm painting

Academic Support

Find out how our expert staff can support your teaching, research and impact activities.

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Research-led projects and conservation work

  • Conservation

    Find out more about our conservation work to ensure the long-term preservation of the unique objects within our collections.

    Cleaning an artefact
  • Projects and Partners

    Learn more about our range of research-led international projects and partnerships.

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Conservation

Find out more about our conservation work to ensure the long-term preservation of the unique objects within our collections.

Cleaning an artefact

Projects and Partners

Learn more about our range of research-led international projects and partnerships.

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Museums and Collections sites

We have a number of sites across University Library and Collections, including fantastic libraries, research rooms, museums and galleries.

Barker Research Library at Palace Green Library

Barker Research Library

Our Archives and Special Collections are held within the Barker Research Library, located in the historic Palace Green Library. The Library is bright and airy, making for a peaceful place to study and work.

Barker Research Library
Palace Green Library
Palace Green
Durham
DH1 3RN
United Kingdom

Opening times: 10am - 5pm Monday - Friday (by appointment only)
Number 5, The College

Number 5, The College

5 The College is a Grade II Listed Building within the cathedral close (called 'The College' in Durham). It is home to the Durham Cathedral Archive and other collections.

5 The College
Durham
DH1 3EQ
United Kingdom

Opening times: 9am - 5pm Wednesday and 9am - 4pm Thursday (by appointment only)

Durham Castle

Sitting at the heart of Durham's World Heritage Site, Durham Castle is now home to the students of University College, as well as our museum and collections.

Durham Castle
Palace Green
Durham
DH1 3RW

Opening times: For opening times, please see the website.
Museum of Archaeology

Museum of Archaeology

The Museum of Archaeology's collections range from the prehistoric to the post-medieval. Our gallery charting the story of Durham is housed within Palace Green Library.

Museum of Archaeology
Palace Green Library
Palace Green
Durham
DH1 3RN

Opening times: 10am - 5pm Monday - Sunday (pre-booking required)
Oriental Museum

Oriental Museum

From Ancient Egypt to modern China, our Oriental Museum is the only museum in the North of England devoted entirely to the art and archaeology of the great cultures of Northern Africa and Asia.

Oriental Museum
Elvet Hill
Durham
DH1 3TH
United Kingdom 

Opening times: 10am - 4pm Wed - Fri and 12am - 4pm Sat - Sun (pre-booking required)

Explore our libraries, museums, and galleries

  • Visit Us

    Find out how to visit our Libraries, Museums and Collections sites.

    Showcases, art and museum displays at the Oriental Museum over three levels
  • Partner Libraries

    Find out more about our two partner libraries, Durham Cathedral Library and Ushaw College Library.

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Visit Us

Find out how to visit our Libraries, Museums and Collections sites.

Showcases, art and museum displays at the Oriental Museum over three levels

Partner Libraries

Find out more about our two partner libraries, Durham Cathedral Library and Ushaw College Library.

https://pxl-duracuk.terminalfour.net/fit-in/768x432/prod01/prodbucket01/media/durham-university/library-/archives-and-special-collections/external-resources-and-collections/partner_libraries_ushaw_college.jpg