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Serbian and Montenegrin Collections

This page provides an overview of the Serbian and Montenegrin Collections, illustrated by specific examples. We acquire material across the spectrum of the humanities and social sciences. We obtain and make available material published in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and for material in the languages of those countries published anywhere in the world.

'The White Angel on the Grave' a fresco in the Monestary Mileševa

'The White Angel on the Grave' a fresco in the Monestary Mileševa. From Mediecal Serbian Art: from the 12th to the 17th Century (National Museum in Belgrade, 1991). Copyright © The British Library Board



In the following text, codes which appear in brackets after references [C.40.e.38] indicate British Library shelfmarks.

An energetic acquisitions policy in the 19th century has led to a very good collection of books, periodicals and newspapers from Serbia and Montenegro.

The Department of Western Manuscripts holds the Serres Gospels, written and illuminated in 1354-5 for the Metropolitan Jacob of Serres [MS 39626]. An incunable of note in the British Library holdings is the 1493 Oktoechos [IB.56904], containing church songs written in Church Slavonic from Makarije's press at Obod (Cetinje), Montenegro. From that date, relatively little was printed in Serbia. The British Library has the Psaltir [1009.b.3] printed in Venice in 1638 by Barto Ginammi. Also held is a second edition of the Izobrazhenie oruzhii illiricheskih... [C.40.e.38], which includes very fine woodcuts by Hristofor Zefarović, printed in 1741.

Included in the collections are examples of the early form of the Serbian language in Zaharija Orfelin's Iskusni podrumar (1783) [1148.c.12] and Jovan Rajić's Istorija raznih slavenskih narodov (1794) [869.h.22]. Works by Dositej Obradović are also held in the Library, including the first editions of Život i priključenija (1783) [C.59.d.25.(1)], Sovjeti zdravogo razuma (1784) [C.59.d.25.(2)], Pesna o izbavleniju Serbie (1789) [C.59.ff.15.(2)], and a number of other editions of Dositej Obradović's works which were presented to the British Library by the author during his stay in London.

The 19th century heralded a new era in the development of various cultural movements in Serbia and Montenegro led by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, language reformer and collector of folk literature, poems, tales and customs. The Library has first editions of his three collected works, first printed in Vienna in 1814-15, Mala prostonarodna Slaveno-Serska Pesnaritsa [1461.e.17]; the four-volume edition published in Leipzig and Vienna 1823-33 [1064.h.26, 27]; and a large multi-volume collection published in 1841-65 [11585.f.11]; the first edition of his Lexicon Serbico-Germanico-Latinum printed in Vienna (1818) [12976.r.6 and 827.i.30 and 1333.k.5], his Grammar book (..kleine serbische Grammatik...) [1294.c.3], and his New testament (1824) []. The most important works by Petar Petrović Njegoš (Luča Mikrokozma (1845) [11585.c.52], Šćepan Mali (1851) [] and Gorski Vijenac (1847) [1600/224] also feature in the collections.

The British Library has good collections of 20th-century academic publications, historical material, literature, ethnography and the arts. Most significant Serbian and Montenegrin authors are represented in the Library's holdings by the standard collected editions of their single works.

Special attention is currently being devoted to the Balkan Crisis and to the problems of political change in Serbia and Montenegro after Tito's Yugoslavia, covering the issues of civil wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing, human rights, refugees, war crimes and peace conferences, and Serbia and Montenegro's involvement in them.

Catalogues and printed guides and other resources

Serbian and Montenegrin material is listed in the printed volumes of the British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1975 (for material acquired before 1975 only) and in Explore the British Library, which is accessible via the internet. Material acquired and catalogued prior to 1975 is in Cyrillic (with headings in transliteration); post-1975 material, however, is displayed in transliterated form, according to Library of Congress rules. For information on searching and transliteration, please see Searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogues of the British Library: guidelines and transliteration tables.

Catalogues and printed guides

  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 1], compiled by Sava Peić and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 2], compiled by Sadie Morgan-Cheshire and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue, compiled by R. Cleminson, C. Thomas, D. Radoslavova, A. Voznesenskij (London: The British Library, 2000) [HLR011.440947]
  • Church Slavonic entries from the British Library General Catalogue [prepared by Brad Sabin Hill] (London: The British Library, 1992) [2725.g.1675]
  • Walker, Gregory. Library resources in Britain for the study of Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R., compiled by Gregory Walker and Jackie Johnson (Wheatley: G.Walker, 1992) [revised edition in progress] [2719.k.1162].

Other resources

Serbian and Montenegrin material elsewhere in the British Library


Milan Grba, Lead Curator, South-East European Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7590