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British Historical Manuscripts

A navigational guide to the core British history collections.

William Bowyer, Heroica Eulogia, 1567, HM 160 f. 14.The Huntington Library is one of the most significant repositories in the world for British history. Areas of strength are politics, law, diplomacy, aristocratic and gentry family life, religion, gender and sexuality, the economy, the military and navy, colonial expansion and administration, and slavery and the slave trade. Intellectual and artistic culture, architecture, and landscape gardening are also documented in depth. Manuscript materials span the 11th through the 19th centuries, with bulk dates between 1530 and 1890.

The four major archival collections, and the cornerstones of the library's British historical holdings, are the:


A comprehensive survey of The Huntington Library's research collections of British historical manuscripts can be found in the "Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in The Huntington Library," which is available online through the HathiTrust Digital Library.

In addition to these core collections, The Huntington holds roughly 85 smaller collections (chiefly correspondence) comprising many tens of thousands of letters from approximately 1500 to the early 20th century. The library also holds thousands of individual items. These smaller archival collections and most individual pieces are in the library catalog, often with links to finding aids. Some collections are only fully discoverable on-site in the manuscript card catalogs. Contact the library for more information.

Image credit: William Bowyer, Heroica Eulogia, 1567, HM 160 f.14. Acquired from G. D. Smith, 1912.

Access

The Huntington Library's collections are open to current readers and qualified researchers by prior application to the Reader Services Department. Alternatively, requests for reproductions are welcome from all researchers and the public. 

To learn more about The Huntington Library's access policy and Imaging Services options, see our Researching at The Huntington Library guide. 

Current readers may learn how to request collections for viewing in the Ahmanson Reading Room by visiting our Access Rare Materials page.