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Cambridge Digital Library

Department A-Z

Browse our collections

Treasures of the Library

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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Newton Papers

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 Manuscripts

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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Chinese Works

Chinese Works

The Chinese collections comprise about half a million individual titles. The items displayed here show the temporal range, diversity of media and variety of subject-matter contained within the collections, from the oracle bones (the oldest documents in the Library), to unique manuscripts and printed books, historical documents and epigraphical rubbings.

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Board of Longitude

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-Hooker Letters

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

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

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 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 Manuscripts

Hebrew Manuscripts

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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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Waterloo

Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo was the climactic engagement of a campaign that pitted an invading French army under Napoleon Bonaparte against a combined force of Allied troops. The French were routed, and the warfare that had plagued Europe for more than two decades was definitively ended: there were to be no hostilities on such a scale on the continent until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Through its impact on the politics and power-relationships of a Europe approaching the height of its worldwide influence, the outcome of Waterloo remains significant to this day.

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Michaelides

Michaelides

Papyrus was the main writing material of the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic societies in Egypt for 4,000 years before paper took its place. The bulk of historical, linguistic, social and economic evidence of the early Islamic Era can be found on papyrus originally produced in Egypt. The Michaelides fragments comprise the largest private collection of Arabic papyri to be found in any institution worldwide.

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Royal Commonwealth Society

Royal Commonwealth Society

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Library collections are a treasure-trove of information, pictorial and written, print and manuscript, focussing on the Commonwealth and Britain's former colonial territories. This initial selection includes some of the spectacular art work and photograph collections in the RCS Library.

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Lewis-Gibson

Lewis-Gibson

In August 2013 Cambridge University Library and the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, jointly purchased 1700 medieval Jewish manuscripts collected by the twin sisters Agnes Smith Lewis (1843–1926) and Margaret Dunlop Gibson (1843–1920). Their collection possesses its fair share of rare and unique items, including autograph drafts of Maimonides’ literary works, large and handsome leaves from 11th and 12th century Bibles, early Christian Palestinian Aramaic palimpsests, and an eyewitness account of the Seljuk Turks’ 11th-century invasion of the Holy Land.

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