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Address. Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TJ [Map]
Telephone. (0117) 928-9000
Fax. (0117) 925-5334
Governing body or responsible institution. University of Bristol
Functions. University library.
Subjects. All academic disciplines in the university.
Access. General collections available only to members of the university; special collections open to all, by appointment and on production of satisfactory proof of identity. - Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. Closed between Christmas and New Year and on Bank Holidays.
Special facilities. Photocopiers; microform readers and printers; microfilming and other photography by arrangement.
Printed information. University of Bristol Library: Special Collections. Compiled by Nick Lee. Bristol 1997.
Travel directions. Mainline railway station: Bristol Temple Meads (London 2 hours). Bus no. 9, St. Michael's Hill stop (at side of Arts and Social Sciences Library).
1.1 The University of Bristol originated as University College, Bristol, in 1876. Full university status was granted in 1909. Library provision was rather slow to develop. Early students relied upon the generosity of their teachers and the easy-going John Taylor (1829-1893), librarian of the proprietary library, the Bristol Museum and Library. Honorary librarians from among the teaching staff supervised the growing collections, which were organised into departmental libraries. Ernest Sibree, Lecturer in Oriental Languages, succeeded James Rowley, Professor of Modern History and English Literature, as honorary librarian in 1901 and retained this responsibility until 1923, which year saw the appointment of the first full-time librarian, W. Luther Cooper (librarian 1923-1946), and the beginning of a determined and continuing effort to create a research library, housed in the magnificent new buildings donated by the Wills family. 1.1
1.2 A succession of generous donors and a number of institutional mergers have contributed greatly to the growth of the collections, notably in the amalgamation of the Bristol Medical School (dating from 1833) with the university in 1893; the deposit of the libraries of the Bristol Law Society (deposited in 1934), the Moravian Church in Maudlin Street (deposited in 1966), and the Bristol Society of Architects; the donation, by Bath City Council, of the library of the Bath physician, agriculturalist and geologist Caleb Hillier Parry (1755-1822); the bequests of the mathematician John Thompson Exley (1815-1899), the historian Oskar Teichman (1880-1959) and of the geologists Joan and Victor Eyles (1907-1986); and, most recently, the gift of his early printings by Leonard W. Forster (1913-1997), Emeritus Professor of German in the University of Cambridge. The most significant purchase in the library's history was that of the Gladstone library of the National Liberal Club, founded in 1883, which incorporated the libraries of the daughters of Richard Cobden and T. Fisher Unwin, and a large pamphlet collection started by Charles Bradlaugh (c. 30,000 vols of monographs and serials, and 45,000 pamphlets).
Chronological outline and analysis by language
2.1 The library holds in the region of 1.25 million vols, of which perhaps 13,000 titles are treated as special collections material. The bulk of the 19th-century holdings have never been distinguished from the 20th-century stock and so it is impossible to estimate the full extent of the materials relevant to the present work. Indices of publishers and provenances have not been maintained but a survey of pre-1852 books housed in special collections in the most considerable libraries has been undertaken for this study and suggests that imprints from the German-speaking world represent roughly 7-8 per cent of these collections. Of the 920 German imprints identified in the special collections, 373 are in the German language.
2.2 There are 4 German incunabula, just over 100 16th-century titles, almost 200 17th-century printings, just under 400 18th-century works and something over 200 titles dating from 1801 to 1851. Frankfurt and Basel dominate the imprints before 1701, Basel being especially strong for the 16th century and Frankfurt for the 17th. Cologne makes a valuable secondary contribution in this period. Leipzig is overwhelmingly dominant as the place of publication of works in the later period. Berlin and Vienna feature significantly but more modestly. Moravian holdings account for the presence of 25 Barby imprints, along with 8 from Büdingen and 5 from Gnadau. Ten of the London printings in German are Moravian. The significant concentrations of German imprints are described below.
2.3 Geology. Two collections contribute to outstanding strength in this field: the older holdings of the Geology Library, largely the result of the enthusiasm of two professors of geology, Sidney Hugh Reynolds (who held the Channing-Wills Chair from 1901 to 1933) and Walter Frederick Whittard (who held the same chair from 1937 to 1966); and the Eyles Collection, formerly the library of Joan and Victor Eyles and reputed the finest private collection of geological and related materials, including mineralogy, palaeontology and mining.
2.4 The Eyles Collection, which is housed in the Special Collections Department of the Arts and Social Sciences Library, was bequeathed in 1986 with an endowment for purchase and is, in consequence, the fastest-growing of the special collections. It now incorporates rare books acquired on very favourable terms from R. J. G. Savage, Emeritus Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology. It includes 3 16th-century German titles, 28 17th-century, 129 18th-century and 38 works from the first half of the 19th century. Not surprisingly, there is a wide geographical coverage, which is reflected in a great diversity of imprints. There are small concentrations of material from Freiberg (5 titles), Halle (6), Dresden and Zürich (7 each) and Weimar (8), in addition to the imprints from the principal publishing centres mentioned above. The wide circle of German science is represented by Peter Simon Pallas's Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des russischen Reichs (St. Petersburg 1771-1776); Hans Michael Renovantz's Mineralogisch-geographische und andere vermischte Nachrichten von den altaischen Gebürgen (Reval 1788); and by the Gründlicher und aussführlicher Bericht von Bergwercken of Georg Engelhard von Löhneyss (Stockholm 1690). Authors such as Johann Carl W. Voigt and Abraham Gottlob Werner are represented in some depth.
2.5 The most part of the Geology Library's 19th-century works is not designated special collections material and it has not been possible, therefore, to quantify either the holdings of books and serials or the very extensive offprint collection. The small special collection contains one 18th-century German imprint and 6 works from the first half of the 19th century, including the Petrefacta Germaniae of Georg August Goldfuss (Düsseldorf 1826-1844) and Bernhard von Cotta's Dendrolithen (Dresden 1832).
2.6 Literature. Professor Leonard Forster's munificent gift consisted particularly of German and late-Latin literature. There are 7 16th-century, 40 17th-century and 16 18th-century titles falling within the scope of the present work. The rarest of the items was the pamphlet of Christian Cunrad's Hirten Gespräch (Oels: Johann Bössemesser 1628). Other highlights include the Geistliche Poemata (Breslau 1638) and Weltliche Poemata (Frankfurt 1644) of Martin Opitz, Johann Arndt's Vier Bücher vom wahren Christentum (Sondershausen 1712), the opera of Petrus Lotichius (Heidelberg 1603) and Friedrich Taubmann's Melodaesia (Leipzig 1604). This gift is complemented by very modest old-established holdings, concentrated in the 18th century and the first part of the 19th. Typical of these are the Gedichte (Hamburg 1783) and Sämtliche hinterlassne Gedichte (Halle 1782-1783) of Ludwig Hölty. Less expected are Georg Philipp Harsdoerffer's Specimen philologicae Germanicae (Nuremberg 1646), August Buchner's Kurzer Weg-Weiser zur Deutschen Tichtkunst (Jena 1663) and 3 pamphlets of revolutionary songs collected by Edward Fry in Switzerland in 1848.
2.7 Medicine. The Medical Library was founded in 1893 as the joint library of the Bristol Medical School (dating from 1833) and the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society (founded 1874) and incorporates, ``inter alia', the libraries of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (founded 1735), the Bristol General Hospital (founded 1831), Caleb Hillier Parry (1755-1822) and John Smith Soden (1780-1863), along with the holdings of the Bristol Medical Library, later part of the Bristol Museum and Library (founded 1832). The resulting collection is wide-ranging. Of imprints from the German-speaking world there are 23 titles of the 16th century, 58 of the 17th century and 60 of the 18th century. The library is rich in 19th-century materials but these are too extensive to have been surveyed. Frankfurt is by far the most common place of publication. The output of Trattner, especially the works of Anton von Störck, secures Vienna the second place and Basel, Göttingen and Leipzig follow on. Only 10 books are in German. As examples of the collection mention might be made of the De humani corporis of Vesalius (Basel 1543), Hermann von Neuenar's De novo ...morbo (Cologne 1529) and Joannes Zwelfer's Pharmacopoeia regia (Nuremberg 1693).
2.8 Moravianism. This collection is composed of the library of the Bristol Moravian Church and a gift of books from the Right Rev. G. W. McLeavy (once part of the library of Benjamin Latrobe). It is especially strong in hymnology and the sermons of Nikolaus Ludwig Graf Zinzendorf. Most of the books are in German and include some of the productions of the earliest German-language press in London. Falling within the boundaries of the present survey are 91 titles, mostly mid-18th-century in date. (Nine are from the seventeen-thirties, 26 from the forties, 26 from the fifties and 17 from the sixties). They include Alt- und neuer Brüder-Gesang (London 1753) and John Cennick's copy of Das Liturgien-Büchlein (London 1755), along with Zinzendorf's Teutscher Gedichte neue Auflage (Barby 1766).
2.9 Natural history. The bequests of Hiatt Baker, Agnes Fry, S. H. Vines, James Walter White and the amateur ornithologist Dr Joseph Wiglesworth (1853-1919) have been the most significant contributions to this collection. Professor R. J. G. Savage made generous donations from his own library in 1998. The collection is especially strong in botany rare books and contains 2 works of 16th-century date and 3 of the 17th century, 18 18th-century works and 32 of the first half of the 19th century. Johann Andreas Naumann's Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands (Leipzig 1820-1860), the De stirpium historia of Leonhard Fuchs (Basel 1545) and Albrecht von Haller's Flora Jenensis (Jena 1745) are indicative of the range of works.
All accessions since early 1978 and a good deal of older material may be found on the OPAC which provides name, title, keyword and classmark searching.
Card catalogues held in each library provide access to most of the special collections and other older books. These catalogues are now closed and will be superseded as re-cataloguing proceeds. Of special interest in this context are:
Botany Rare Book Collection included in the Biological Sciences Library card catalogue
Medical Library holdings, including the Parry Collection are catalogued in the Medical Library card catalogue. An additional manuscript sheaf catalogue is available for the Parry Collection.
The Geology Library card catalogue includes items held in the special collection. A separate listing of the rare books has been compiled.
The Wiglesworth Ornithological Collection is housed in the Special Collections Department of the Arts and Social Sciences Library and the Biological Sciences Library. A card catalogue is located in the Biological Sciences Library and card catalogue tries for those items in the Special Collections Department feature in the Arts and Social Sciences Library card catalogue.
Moravian Collection: A typescript catalogue of the books and manuscripts in the collection is available. Printed items are catalogued in the OPAC and in the card catalogue of the Arts and Social Sciences Library.
The incunables are recorded in the Incunabula Short Title Catalgoue (ISTC).
Carleton, Don: A university for Bristol. A history in text and pictures. Bristol 1984
Reports of the Library Committee in the minutes of Council
The Librarian's annual report
Griffiths, L. M.: The Bristol Medical Library. In: Bristol Medico-chirurgical Journal 29, no. 114 (Dec. 1911) pp. 335-344
Roberts, A. E. S.: The Medical Library of the University of Bristol. In: Medical Journal of the South West 73, no. 267 (Jan. 1958) pp. 12-14
Roberts, A. E. S.: On the history and growth of the Bristol Medical School Library. In: Bristol Medico-chirurgical Journal 85, no. 316 (Oct. 1970) pp. 93-100
Wright, R. W. M.: Bath Hospital Medical Library. In: The Record. Bulletin of the Victoria Art Gallery and Municipal Library, Bath 1, no. 7 (1948) pp. 225-234
See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ...2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 5-8
Michael T. Richardson