18th- and 19th-century British Manuscripts at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library: Bound Manuscripts and Very Small Collections

This guide offers resources and advice for conducting research on 18th- and 19th-century British, Scottish, and Irish manuscripts at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Bound Manuscripts and Collections Smaller than at Box in Size

Bound Manuscripts:

The Kenneth Spencer Research Library holds numerous bound manuscripts which might be pertinent for researchers working on 18th- and 19th-century English, Scottish, and Irish topics.  Though some of these have online finding aids (available at http://etext.ku.edu/search?route=ksrlead;brand=ksrlead), the vast majority are listed only in the KU Libraries online catalog.  Since many of these volumes (whether account books, commonplace books, letter books, or diaries) may be composed or compiled by individuals who were not public figures, these items can sometimes be tricky to find using regular author/title searches.

To browse all of Spencer's bound manuscripts, conduct a "call number"search for "MS A" in the KU Libraries catalog: http://catalog.lib.ku.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First.  This will bring you to itemized listings of our bound manuscripts in call number order, beginning with our smallest bound manuscripts (Spencer's call numbers correspond to size, with A call numbers being the smallest volumes, and B, C, D, E, F, G call numbers indicating volumes of increasing size).


When you conduct a "call number" search for "MS A", it will yield a page that looks like this:

Bound Manuscript Browse Search


Though the catalog will say that it is displaying "1 through 25 of 25 entries," if you continue to hit the blue forward and backward arrows at the top and the bottom of the screen, you will be able to browse all of the bound manuscripts in call number order.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to sort call number searches by author, title, or date.  If you click on the title or the author of the manuscript, it should bring you to the full catalog record for that item.

**There should be a total of approximately 44 screens' worth of bound manuscript listings (MS A call numbers through MS K)**

Collections of Materials Smaller Than a Box in Size:

The Spencer Library also holds single letters, small groups of letters, or individual manuscripts for a variety of 18th- and 19th-century British writers, such as Harriet Martineau, William Makepeace Thackeray, Alfred Tennyson, William Lisle Bowles, Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Yonge, and Thomas De Quincey (to name a few).  These single unbound items and small collections of items are housed at "MS P" call numbers. There are two main ways to search for these materials prior to your arrival in the reading room:

  1. One way to locate these smaller items is by conducting an author search in the online catalog (http://etext.ku.edu/search?route=ksrlead;brand=ksrlead) and then sorting  the results by date. The manuscript items often end up early in the screen results (though be certain to search throughout the entirety of the figure's lifetime to be safe).  When reviewing the results, look for items housed at the Spencer Library beginning with "MS" call numbers. For example, if you search "Edgeworth, Maria," you will ultimately locate eight manuscript letters (housed at call numbers MS P102:1-8). 
  2. Browse Spencer's "MS P" holdings by conducting a "left-anchored call number (not LC)" search for "MS P" in the KU Libraries catalog: http://catalog.lib.ku.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First. You can then sort the results by date, author, or title. 

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Elspeth Healey