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University of London Library

Address. Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU [Map]
Telephone. (020) 7636-8000 (Daytime Monday-Friday); (020) 7636-4514 (Evenings and Saturdays)
Fax. (020) 7436-1494
e-mail. [ull@ull.ac.uk]
Internet. http://www.ull.ac.uk/

Governing body or responsible institution. University of London
Functions. University library; research library (primarily arts, humanities, social sciences).
Subjects. English, economic and social history, music, philosophy and psychology, Latin American studies, United States studies, British Government publications, modern languages (primarily Romance and Germanic), geography, including an extensive map collection, Commonwealth studies, palaeography, history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine.

Access. Open both to members of the University of London and external users. All users should be registered members (contact the Membership Desk for details). - Open Monday to Thursday 8.30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday 8.30 a.m. - 6.30 p.m., Saturday, Summer and Christmas vacation Monday to Friday 9.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m. Special Collections hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Special facilities. WWW; Internet; CD-ROM; dataset access; photocopiers; microfilm- and microfiche readers; reader-printer; Kurzweil machine.
Printed information. Guide to the University of London Library. London 1981; Guide to the libraries of the University of London. London 1983.
Travel directions. Nearest underground stations: Goodge Street, Russell Square, Euston Station, Tottenham Court Road. Several bus routes to Russell Square (rear entrance). - No parking.


1.1 The University Library traces its origins to 1838, but its development really dates from the 1870s when the University's headquarters were established at Burlington Gardens. For many decades, as the only English University open to all regardless of sex and creed, with the unique system of the ``external degree', and the extensive chain of University Colleges, London should be said to be the University of all England and of the Empire. The founding collection of the library, that of the mathematician Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871) (still valued by researchers - both as a collection and for the intrinsic importance of many individual items), was given in 1871 by Samuel Jones Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone (1796-1883) as ``a testimony of his appreciation of the service which [the University] has rendered to the extension and improvement of education in all its branches throughout the United Kingdom'. It contained c. 4,000 books and pamphlets mainly on mathematics and astronomy. The second major collection to come to the Library was bequeathed, also in 1871, by George Grote (1794-1871), historian and former Vice-Chancellor of the University. It mainly consisted of Greek and Latin classics (c. 5,000 vols and 2,500 pamphlets). Rapid expansion followed, culminating in the receipt of the Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature in 1903 (see below 2.6-2.8).

1.2 In 1900 the University was reconstituted and the Library was moved from Burlington Gardens to South Kensington. It was formally re-opened by the Chancellor, the Earl of Rosebery, in 1906. The Library was moved again in 1937/38 to its present home in the newly constituted Senate House in Bloomsbury.

1.3 The historic role of the University Library has been to maintain a range of research and special collections, while also providing a supplementary general resource. Following changes within the University, however, the emphasis has shifted toward research provision in the humanities and social sciences, not only for the members of the University of London, but also for the wider scholarly community.


Chronological outline and analysis by language

2.1 The University Library's early, rare and historically significant books, periodicals, pamphlets and broadsides account for well over 10 per cent of the library's total current holdings approaching 2.0 million items. The majority of the holdings are in English, with material in French, Spanish, German, Latin, Italian (in descending order) and other western European languages also collected. Accurate figures providing a breakdown of holdings by date and by language are unavailable.

2.2 The library holds 126 incunabula (see below 2.5). The majority of the rare and early books are in one or another of the 55 named collections, the largest and best known of which is the Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature with approximately 68,000 vols. In addition to the named Special Collections the library holds a high proportion of pre-1850 material within its General Collections. This material amounts to an estimated further 60,000 vols and reflects the general collection development profile of the library.

Subject Outline

2.3 Both the founding collections, that of Augustus De Morgan and that of George Grote (see above 1.1) include significant numbers of German works, as one might expect in libraries of 19th-century academics. In the case of Grote's library, these comprise largely contemporary works in the areas of ancient history and philosophy. De Morgan, on the other hand, collected not only a working library, but also bought books of antiquarian interest in the fields of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and actuarial science. Both collections include books in German and books (as well as dissertations) in Latin published in German-speaking countries.

2.4 The library has a strong collection of German language and literature, and this includes, as would be expected, some 18th-century and 19th-century editions of texts and 19th-century critical works. Other subjects in the library's general collections where there are considerable numbers of German imprints and German-language items are Classics, History, Music, Philosophy, Palaeography and Theology; but it is not possible to give a figure for German-language or German-imprint holdings. The other important fields for German-language and German-imprint items from the pre-1900 period in the University Library are:

2.5 Incunabula. Of the library's 126 incunabula, 37 have German, Austrian or Swiss imprints. The most common imprints are from Strasbourg (9 titles), and Nuremberg (8 titles); Basel and Cologne are represented by 4 titles each, Augsburg by 3 titles, Leipzig and Ulm 2 titles each, and Esslingen, Mainz, Reutlingen, Speyer and Vienna one title each. There are two German-language items: Joerg von Nuremberg's Nachricht von den Türken (Nuremberg 1500), and Johannes Widmann's Rechnung auf alle Kaufmannschaft (Leipzig 1489). Other interesting items include Breydenbach's Die heylighe beuarden tot dat heylighe grafft in iherusalem (Mainz 1488), the Dutch version of his Peregrinatio, an edition of Johannes de Sacro Bosco's Sphaera mundi printed by Heinrich Quentell in Cologne 1500, and Ulrich Molitor's De lamiis (Reutlingen 1489?), in the Harry Price Library (see below 2.10).

2.6 Economic and social history. The nucleus of The Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature was the first library of Herbert George Somerton Foxwell (1849-1936), Professor of Political Economy at University College, London, which he sold to the Goldsmiths' Company who donated it to the University in 1903. It contains c. 60,000 books and pamphlets of which c. 35,000 are pre-1851, with 3 incunabula and c. 600 pre-1701 foreign titles. It covers economic literature very broadly and is strongest in works illustrating the development of economic thought in the period 1700-1850. The holdings for the preceding period are also exceptional. The collection covers financial and monetary policy, agriculture, early English and French socialism, slavery, trade, guilds, transport (particularly railway history), the temperance movement and the condition of the people generally. Although the greater part of the collection is in English or French, about 8 per cent of the collection is estimated to be in the German language and material about or concerning Germany or German theorists is also held.

2.7 Among the 3 incunabula is Johannes Nider, Tractatus de contractibus mercatorum (Esslingen 1473); typical examples illustrating the development of political thought (``Staatswissenschaft') are Gottfried Achenwall, Die Staatsklugheit nach ihren ersten Grundsätzen (Göttingen 1761) or Johann Heinrich G. von Justi, Die Grundfeste zu der Macht und Glückseeligkeit der Staaten (Königsberg 1760). Political economy is represented by Carl Friedrich, Großherzog von Baden, Abrégé des principes de l'économie politique (Karlsruhe 1772), Georg Friedrich C. Sartorius von Waltershausen, Handbuch der Staatswirthschaft (Berlin 1796), Carl Gottlob Roessig, Geschichte der Ökonomie der vorzüglichsten Länder und Völker (Leipzig 1798) or by the writings of Friedrich List in the 19th century. A typical example of 18th-century economic literature (``Kameralismus') is Justus Christoph Dithmar, Project der oeconomischen Policey und Cameral-Wissenschafft (Frankfurt/Oder [1730]).

2.8 There are substantial holdings of 18th-century commerce, e.g. Paul Jacob Marperger, Erstes Hundert gelehrter Kauffleut (Dresden [1720]), Cornelius Hoofman, Dissertatio de commerciis et cambiis veterum (Königsberg 1726), David Hume, Vermischte Schriften über die Handlung ...und die anderen Quellen des Reichthums (Hamburg 1754) or Johann Carl Adam Murhard, Theorie und Politik des Handels (Göttingen 1831). Finally, 19th-century German socialist literature should be mentioned, such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, Die heilige Familie (Frankfurt a. M. 1845), Friedrich Engels, Die Entwicklung des Sozialismus von der Utopie zur Wissenschaft (Berlin 1891) or Karl Marx, Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (Berlin 1859).

2.9 Shorthand and abbreviated writing systems. The Carlton Shorthand Collection was bequeathed to the University Library by shorthand bibliographer William J. Carlton (1886-1973). Containing an estimated 18,000 items dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries in the form of books, periodicals, manuscripts, prints and pamphlets in nearly 60 languages and dialects, the Carlton Collection is among the most comprehensive shorthand collections in the world. The Carlton collection includes instruction manuals and texts in major German-language shorthand systems such as those of Franz Xaver Gabelsberger, Heinrich August Wilhelm Stolze, Leopold Arends and Julius Brauns. Periodicals for stenographers and shorthand enthusiasts are also represented. Most of the German material is from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

2.10 Magic, conjuring and spiritualism. The collection of Harry Price (1881-1948), the publicist of psychical research, developed from a childhood collection of books on conjuring into a collection unique in the United Kingdom of materials for the cultural history of attitudes to the occult. Although its holdings are strong from the early modern period on, they are especially indispensable for the history of psychical research and spiritualism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection has been enlarged since it came to the University Library in 1937 and now contains c. 18,000 printed items, of which over 4,000 date before 1900 including c. 800 pre-1801 items. Notable German works in the collection include Ulrich Molitor's De lamiis (Reutlingen 1489?) and a number of 18th-century works on natural magic (``natürliche Magie'). German works on stage and home conjuring are also represented.

2.11 Pedagogy and educational theory. The Quick Memorial Library was given in 1929 by the Education Guild, formerly the Teacher's Guild of Great Britain and Ireland. The greater part had originally been the library of the Rev. Robert Herbert Quick (1831-1891), schoolmaster and writer of books on education. It contains c. 1,000 vols and is rich in early school textbooks. Most of the important educational thinkers from the Renaissance to the mid-19th century are represented, the majority in contemporary editions. There are also biographies, histories of schools and encyclopaedias of education. German educational theorists are well represented, with books and pamphlets (in German) on and by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel and others.


3.1 Modern general catalogues


[Contains all monographs added to stock from 1 January 1980, and an increasing amount of older material as a result of several retroconversion projects. All periodicals also included. Accessible externally via Internet]

Author catalogue [to 1980; card catalogue; contains older monographs pending the completion of retroconversion]

Consortium of University Research

 Libraries  (CURL)

[The University is a member of CURL, and all its library holdings recorded online are also included in the COPAC union catalogue: http://copac.ac.uk/ copac.]

3.2 Special catalogues

There are no special catalogues relating to German material. In addition to records in the computer or card catalogues, several special collections have handlists that may be consulted on application to Special Collections staff in the Library.


Incunabula in the libraries of the University of London: a hand-list. Compiled by M. F. Wild. London 1963 [author catalogue; contains index of printers and places]

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

Goldsmiths' Library:

Catalogue of the Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature, compiled by Margaret Canney et al. 5 vols. London 1970-95

The printed books and pamphlets to 1850, together with those at the Kress Library at Harvard University, are published on a chronological series of microfilm reels by Research Publications, Woodbridge (Conn.), 1978-82, with Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of economic literature: a consolidated guide.

Carlton Shorthand Collection:

Typescript list

[incomplete; not in main catalogue, except STC items]

Harry Price Library of Magic:

Report of the Library Committee. 1936

[notes the most outstanding items]

3.3 Historic catalogues

Catalogue of the Library of the University of London, including the libraries of George Grote and Augustus De Morgan. London 1876 [author catalogue]

Hand-catalogue of the library brought down to the end of 1897. London 1900 [abbreviated and extended]


4.1 Archival sources

Archival material relating to the history of the Library is in the University Archives (housed in the University Library).

4.2 Publications

Report of the Library Committee for 1926 [includes a history of the library]

Reader's guide to the University Library. London 1939 [contains a short history of the library and information on special collections]


Price, H.: The National Laboratory Library. In: British Journal of Psychical Research 1 (10) (Nov.-Dec. 1927) pp. 307-316

University of London Library (ed.): The Goldsmiths' Company's Library of Economic Literature 1903-1953. London 1954

Wesencraft, A.: The Harry Price Library. In: Libraries Bulletin (ed. University of London Library Resources Co-ordinating Committee), no. 12 (Jan.-Mar. 1978) pp. 10-13, no. 13 (Apr.-June 1978) pp. 5-9, 15

See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ... 2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 399-407

July 1997

Janet Allan

Julia Walworth

Quelle: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Digitalisiert von Günter Kükenshöner.
Hrsg. von Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003.