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University of Cambridge

Cambridge Digital Library

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Our Collections

Treasures of the Library

In this special collection we draw together books, manuscripts and other items of particular significance. Many of them have been displayed in Library exhibitions in the past – now they can be accessed at any time, from anywhere in the world, and browsed cover to cover.

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Board of Longitude

Cambridge University Library holds the entire archive of the Board of Longitude, the state organization established in the eighteenth century to evaluate methods for finding ships’ position and to encourage a host of projects in instrument design, clock-making, mapping and voyaging.

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Darwin Manuscripts

The Charles Darwin Papers in the Manuscripts Department of Cambridge University Library hold nearly the entire extant collection of Darwin’s working scientific papers. Paramount among these documents are Charles Darwin’s Evolution Manuscripts, which are being published online at the Cambridge Digital Library and simultaneously at the Darwin Manuscripts Project in collaboration with the Darwin Correspondence Project.

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Newton Papers

Cambridge University Library holds the largest and most important collection of the scientific works of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). We present here an initial selection of Newton's manuscripts, concentrating on his mathematical work in the 1660s.

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Darwin-Hooker Letters

These letters are a connecting thread that spans forty years of Darwin's mature working life from 1843 until his death in 1882. They bring into sharp focus every aspect of Darwin's scientific work throughout that period, and illuminate the mutual friendships he and Hooker shared with other scientists, but they also provide a window of unparalleled intimacy into the personal lives of the two men.

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Sassoon Journals

The notebooks kept by the soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) during his service in the British Army in the First World War are among the most remarkable documents of their kind, and provide an extraordinary insight into his participation in one of the defining conflicts of European history.

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Music

The music collections at Cambridge University Library play an important role in the preservation of musical heritage, both on a national and international level. From printed and manuscript music scores and texts on music to ephemera and concert programmes, archival materials documenting the life and work of composers, music scholars and performers, a huge variety and breadth of material has been collected over several centuries. We launch with a selection of important early lute music, digitised and described in collaboration with the Lute Society.

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The Cairo Genizah Collection

The Taylor-Schechter Cairo Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library is the world's largest and most important single collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts.

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Hebrew Collection

For over five hundred years Cambridge University has been building up one of the world’s most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts.

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Islamic Manuscripts

The Library's Islamic Manuscripts collection began in the 1630s and now numbers over 5,000 works, which shed light on many aspects of the Islamic world, its beliefs and learning. Our initial selection includes several early Qur'anic fragments on parchment.

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Christian Works

A selection of some of our finest Christian manuscripts and early printed books, from the Bible to the liturgy, spanning over 1000 years of worship and debate.

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Sanskrit Manuscripts

A full catalogue of our Sanskrit manuscript collection, comprising more than 1,600 works in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Tamil and other ancient and medieval South Asian languages, produced over a time-span of more than 1,000 years.

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Japanese Works

Items from Cambridge University Library's important collection of early Japanese books and manuscripts, representing a wide range of the various aspects of early Japanese learning and excellent samples of Japan’s early printing culture.

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Peterhouse Manuscripts

Peterhouse (founded 1284) is the oldest of the Cambridge Colleges, and holds a significant collection of medieval manuscripts. As part of the process of recataloguing and preserving the College's collections, it has been decided to present highlights from the Peterhouse manuscripts in digital form.

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Spanish Chapbooks

These predecessors of the yellow press provide a fascinating bird’s eye view of Spanish popular culture from the eighteenth century onwards.

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Exhibition Items

The Library holds regular exhibitions, usually organised around a particular theme or collection. Depending on the chosen theme, the exhibition cases might contain anything from irreplaceable works of world importance to newspapers or printed ephemera. They demonstrate the breadth of the Library's holdings and often yield surprises.

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