Special Libraries & Archives

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Manuscript & Archive Collections
Special Libraries and Archives is home to more than 4,000 collections of manuscripts and archives, dating from antiquity to the 21st century, and containing material in some 25 different languages.

The University of Aberdeen is a 15th-century foundation, with King’s College established in 1495, Marischal College in 1593, and the University formed in 1860 from their fusion. Collectively, their archives constitute a rich source for the history of higher education in Scotland and Europe, and illuminate the relationship between the University and the City and, indeed, the region.

It is one of only five institutions of higher education in the English-speaking world to have experienced fully the period from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment. This antiquity is reflected in the Archives which include: a fine collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts; outstanding 17th – 19th century collections relating to science, medicine, Scottish Enlightenment philosophy, and Jacobitism; as well as an important collection of oriental manuscripts, papyri and ostraca.

Moreover, until the 1970s, the University was the main repository for archival collections for the northern half of Scotland. As a result, it has acquired an unrivalled collection of written material relating to the history and culture of the North-East of Scotland. These diverse collections include the records of families, estates, churches, institutions and businesses, as well as the literary, academic and antiquarian papers of individuals. Additions continue to be made to collections where they complement the Archives collection policy.

Finding Aids and Catalogues
Collection and item-level descriptions may be viewed at the on-line catalogue. Please note though that not all catalogues are currently available on-line and some catalogues are only available for consultation in the Reading Room. Information on new accessions is sent annually to the National Register of Archives.

Printed catalogues of our medieval manuscripts and collections of papyri and ostraca are also available. See:

  • M R James, Catalogue of the medieval manuscripts in the University Library, Aberdeen (Cambridge, 1932)
  • N R Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol.2 (Oxford, 1977)
  • E G Turner, Catalogue of Greek and Latin papyri and ostraca in the possession of the University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen University Studies, 116, 1939).

Many of the early records of King's and Marischal Colleges, along with lists of alumni and graduates, have been published. For information on the early archives see:

  • Fasti Aberdonenses: selections from the records of the University and King's College of Aberdeen, 1494–1854, ed. C Innes (Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1854);
  • Fasti academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis: selections from the records of Marischal College and University, 1593–1860, vol.1, ed. P J Anderson (New Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1889).

College officers and alumni are listed in:

  • Officers and graduates of University and King's College, Aberdeen, 1495–1860, ed. P J Anderson (New Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1893)
  • Roll of alumni in Arts of University and King's College of Aberdeen, 1596–1860, ed. P J Anderson (Aberdeen University Studies, 1, 1900)
  • Fasti academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis, vols. 2 and 3 (New Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1898)

After 1860 lists of graduating students only are published in:
Rolls of the graduates of the University of Aberdeen:

  • 1860–1900, ed. W Johnston (Aberdeen University Studies, 18, 1906)
  • 1900–1925, ed. T Watt (Aberdeen, 1936)
  • 1926–1955, ed. J Mackintosh (Aberdeen, 1960)
  • 1956–1970, ed. L Donald and W S MacDonald (Aberdeen, 1982)

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Historic Collections King's College Aberdeen AB24 3SW  Tel: +44(0)1224 272598  Email: speclib@abdn.ac.uk

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