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Queens' College Library

Address. Queens' College, Cambridge CB3 9ET [Map]
Telephone. (01223) 33 55 49
Fax. (01233) 33 55 22
e-mail. [jmw49@hermes.cam.ac.uk]

Governing body or responsible institution. Queens' College
Functions. College library.
Subjects. All subjects for older material.

Access. Open to members of the College; visiting scholars are received by appointment only.
Special facilities. Photocopier.
Travel directions. Frequent bus service from railway station to town centre. Within easy walking distance from there. - There is no parking for cars at the library.


1.1 The College was founded in 1448. The oldest section of the library forms part of the original College buildings, and later extensions were added during the Jacobean period. In 1777, David Hughes, Vice-President, left more than 2,000 vols to the College, including a large number of bound tracts. Another noteworthy bequest was made in 1820 of c. 3,000 vols by Isaac Milner (1750-1820), President, mathematician and divine, and friend of William Wilberforce. His collection was rich in works on the Reformation and on 18th and early 19th-century science and mathematics, and contained works from the library of Sir Thomas Smith (1513-1577), Elizabethan statesman, scholar and author.

1.2 Although the collection ranks among the smaller College libraries, it is noteworthy for its excellent printed catalogue, edited by T. H. Horne in 1827 (see below 3), with elaborately classified author and author-subject indexes. This catalogue provides the best account in print available of a typical early 19th-century College library. It is possible, therefore, to give a fairly precise description of the German printed holdings of this collection.


2.1 The library at present contains c. 40,000 pre1900 titles, including c. 25 incunabula. The catalogue of 1827 lists c. 30,000 vols. The number of German printed books may amount to c. 5 per cent,

i.e. c. 1,500 vols printed before 1827. There are 2 incunabula with German imprint, Horace's Opera (Strasbourg: Johann Reinhard of Grüningen 1498) and Hartmann Schedel's Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger 1493). Almost all texts are printed in Latin, with a few exceptions in Hebrew, Greek or Latin and Greek. So far, only one text in German has been traced, Jacob Boehme's Mysterium Magnum; oder Erklaerung uber das erste Buch Mosis ([Amsterdam] 1640).

2.2 The pre-1900 holdings are particularly strong in divinity, but there is also a respectable portion of scientific books, of works on history, bibliography and belles-lettres, although the latter do not contain any German imprints. 414 titles with German imprints, mostly printed before 1700, have been identified with certainty. Of these, 265 belong to theology, which makes up almost 50 per cent of the holdings. There are 37 editions of the Bible or of parts of it, e.g. a Hebrew Bible edited by Johannes Buxtorf (Basel 1618-1620), a New Testament edited by Erasmus (Basel 1522) or a polyglot Psalterium Harmonicum, edited by Elias Hutter (Nuremberg 1602). An Isny imprint of the Apocryphal Writings of Tobias, translated by Paulus Fagius (1532) should also be noted. Commentators on the Old Testament and Apocrypha are represented by 48 titles, those on the New Testament by 54 titles, those on the whole Bible by 11 titles.

2.3 There are a number of Protestant divines, either as commentators (e.g. Johannes Bugenhagen and Johannes Oecolampadius) or authors. Among the 16th and 17th-century volumes from German or Swiss presses are the works of Luther (Jena edition, 4 vols, 1600-1612, Wittenberg edition 1582), Philipp Melanchthon (4 items, e.g. Opera omnia, Wittenberg 1601), Johannes Brenz (Tübingen 1576-1590), Aegidius Hunnius (Wittenberg 1607-1609) or Wolfgang Musculus (Basel 1560). Among the members of the Reformed Church are Huldrich Zwingli (Zürich 1581), Heinrich Bullinger (8 items) and Jean Calvin (13 items, 9 of which are biblical commentaries). His Institutio Christianae Religionis is held in two editions (Geneva 1590 and 1592). However, the library also contains writings by Roman Catholic authors, e.g. Roberto Bellarmino's Disputationes (Cologne 1628) or two works by John Fisher (Opera, Würzburg 1597, and Assertationes Lutheranae Confutatio, Cologne 1564). Writings of the Church Fathers are represented by 41 items, among which are Aurelius Augustinus and Johannes Chrysostomus. To these may be added courses and systems of divinity (31 titles), e.g. by the Lutheran divine Johann Gerhard, Professor of Theology at Jena (Jena 1628), or by Johann Piscator (Herborn 1592).

2.4 Other notable features of the library are sacred philology (29 titles) and classical philology (including grammar, classical and polite literature, 48 titles). The former is represented by Sebastian Münster (Praecepta Mosaica, Basel n.d.) and by Johann Friederich Schleusner or Abraham C. Wahl, both early 19th-century scholars. In the area of classical philology the collection comprises works by Conrad Gesner (Basel 1545), Matthias Martinius (Frankfurt 1655), Conrad Samuel Schurzfleisch (Halle 1712) and several editions of and commentaries on Aristotle. In addition, there are standard works of bibliography (31 titles) such as Georg Wolfgang Panzer's Annales Typographici (Nuremberg 1794-1803) or works by Johann Albert Fabricius (Hamburg 1708-1728) and Johannes Vogt (Hamburg 1738).

2.5 The library is also strong in early scientific works. Sebastian Münster's Rudimenta mathematica (Basel 1551) is an example of contemporary mathematics; 16th-century mineralogy is represented by Georg Agricola's De re metallica (Basel 1561). Of special note are early works on astronomy, e.g. Johannes Regiomontanus's Fundamenta Operationum (Neuburg 1557), 7 works by Kepler, e.g. his Dioptrice (Augsburg 1611) or his Epitome Astronomiae Copernicae (Frankfurt 1635). Another noteworthy example is a copy of Tycho Brahe's Epistolae Astronomicae (Frankfurt 1610). The collection furthermore contains works by the mathematician and physicist Leonard Euler (11 items, almost all printed at St. Petersburg, where he had lived). Conrad Gesner is represented among others by his standard work Historia Animalium (Zürich 1551-1558). Medical authors (42 titles) include Hippocrates (4 items) and Galen (Opera, Basel 1538-1561), but also contemporary authors such as Paracelsus (5 items, e.g. Chirurgia Magna, Strasbourg 1573), Andreas Laurentius, Johannes Fernelius and Ludovicus Mercatus, whose works were published at Frankfurt between 1599 and 1608.

2.6 The collection also includes works on history (28 titles), e.g. Albert Krantz's Chronica Regnorum, Aquilonarium Daniae, Suetiae, Norvegiae (Hamburg 1561). Finally, Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia universalis (Basel 1554) deserves special mention as an example of early geography. Queens' College Library is rich in typical examples of 16th- and 17th-century theology, classical learning and science and its holdings may be regarded as a cross-section of contemporary learning.


Card catalogue (alphabetical)

Horne, Thomas Hartwell: A catalogue of the Library of the College of St. Margaret and St. Bernard, commonly called Queen's [sic] College in the University of Cambridge, methodically arranged. 2 vols. London 1827

Plaistowe, F. G.: Early printed books of the year 1500 in the Library of Queens' College Cambridge. Cambridge 1910

The incunables are recorded in the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC).

Adams, H. M.: Catalogue of books printed on the continent of Europe, 1501-1600, in Cambridge libraries. 2 vols. Cambridge 1967 [lists Queens' College copies]


4.1 Archival sources

Williams, J. F.: The muniments of Queens' College. In: Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 27 (1926) pp. 43-48

4.2 Publications

Munby, A. N. L.: Cambridge College Libraries. 2nd ed. Cambridge 1962, pp. 36-37

See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ... 2nd ed. London 1997, p. 36

August 1998

Karen Kloth

Christina Volkmann