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About Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts

Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts allows you to search for information about the British Library’s rich and unique archive and manuscript collections.

The catalogue contains descriptions of the majority of the British Library's manuscripts and paper-based archives, and an increasing number of digital archives. The Library's sound archive collections and moving image collections are not included. Although some photographic material is included, there is a separate catalogue of photographs.


Collections on Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts include the following

If you are uncertain whether all the information you want can be found on the online catalogue, please ask at the Manuscripts Reference Enquiry Desk or contact the Reference Team.

Key features

  • The ability to search for detailed catalogue information about the Library’s archives and manuscripts, including the facility to navigate to and see descriptions of the collections and series of which they are part
  • The ability to search for and see descriptions of people and places and then navigate to related archive and manuscript descriptions
  • An easy-to-use Refine facility, to filter your Results
  • The facility to tag or make notes about items that interest you (Note that inappropriate tags and notes will be removed; see our Terms & Conditions.)
  • Alerts to provide you with updated results from your search queries
  • RSS feeds to run search queries and notify you of new items found.

Future developments

We will continue to add catalogue information from our other online and print archive and manuscript catalogues. In the meantime these other archive and manuscripts catalogues should be consulted alongside Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts.


Because this is a developing service please help us to improve it by giving us your Feedback.

Technical compatibility


Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts is designed to work best with Internet Explorer version 6. However, it will work with a range of current browsers:

  • Internet Explorer version 5.0 or above
  • Firefox version 1.0 or above
  • Safari version 1.0 or above
  • Opera version 1.0 or above

NB: There may be some functionality and small display issues with some browsers.


Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts requires JavaScript. See instructions for enabling JavaScript in principal browsers.


Any PC or Macintosh hardware should support Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts, although it will run better with a faster computer.
Similarly, Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts will load more quickly with a fast modem or other internet connection. However, it is designed so that nearly all pages will load within 10 seconds over a 56k connection.

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