This page details the main online catalogues to the collections and outlines some of the other catalogues and search aids. Further information can also be found in M.A.E. Nickson, The British Library: Guide to the catalogues and indexes of the Department of Manuscripts, 3rd rev. ed. (London, 1998).
A copy is kept in the Manuscripts Reading Room. It can also be purchased from the British Library Shop.
St Anne teaching the Virgin to read. Copyright © The British Library Board
Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue
Catalogued archives and manuscripts held by the British Library are searchable via the Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue and can be ordered from the Reservation List page.
The British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website provides access to fully digitised manuscripts held at the Library, with descriptions of their contents.
The pilot Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts allows in-depth exploration of the British Library's unrivalled collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. You can view detailed descriptions with images and also take tours of the Library's illuminated manuscript holdings.
The Catalogue of Wolley Charters is a searchable calendar of all 1039 charters bequeathed by Adam Wolley in 1828. They range in date from the 13th to the 18th century and are mostly concerned with land transfers, although there are some wills, marriage settlements and miscellaneous items.
Published catalogues exist for a large proportion of the named Manuscript Collections - they usually include both descriptions of and indexes to the manuscripts in particular collections. In addition, many of these separate indexes have been brought together in an amalgamated index known as the Index of Manuscripts, 10 vols. (Cambridge, 1984-1986).
An unpublished subject index and a 19th-century 'Class Catalogue' provide further means of accessing the collections in the Manuscripts Reading Room. There is also a wealth of published material available, providing summaries, descriptions and indexes to manuscripts arranged chronologically, by language, or by subject matter. Many of these books are available on the open access shelves of the Manuscripts Reading Room, where assistance can also be sought from the Enquiry Team, the Superintendent or the Curatorial Advisor.
Finally, many collections, including some recent acquisitions, can also be located online through the National Register of Archives.