Finding materials outside the Rare Books and Special Collections Library

Rare Books and Special Collections in other libraries

Repositories of Primary Sources

This resource lists over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources. It includes collections in Australia and New Zealand. It was compiled by Terry Abraham, University of Idaho Library. Final update - January 2015.


  • Early English Books Online

    Early English Books Online (EEBO) provides access to over 125,000 titles published in English between 1473 and 1700. It reproduces the works listed in Pollard and Redgrave's Short Title Catalogue (1475-1640), Wing's Short Title Catalogue (1641-1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661) as well as other works more recently identified. EEBO allows you to search the bibliographic citations, browse online the digital images of every page and download the digital images in PDF format for more extensive viewing and printing.

  • Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC)

    The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue is an international database of 15th-century European printing created by the British Library with contributions from institutions worldwide. The database records nearly every item printed from movable type before 1501, but not material printed entirely from woodblocks or engraved plates. Locations of books are noted if they have been verified. Links are provided to online digital facsimiles wherever possible.

  • English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

    The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists over 460,000 items published between 1473 and 1800 mainly in Britain and North America. It includes books, serials, pamphlets and other ephemeral material held in the British Library and over 2000 other libraries. The English Short Title Catalogue is available free of charge via the British Library website.

  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online

    Eighteenth Century Collections Online is based on the English Short Title Catalogue and includes every significant English language title and foreign language title printed in Great Britain during the eighteenth century, as well as thousands of important works published in the Americas. It includes books, directories, sheet music, pamphlets and advertisements and provides access to digital images of every page of 150,000 books.

  • Early American Imprints. Series 1, Evans (1639-1800)

    Early American Imprints covers American history and literature through the colonial period up to the eighteenth century. This database is a full-text digitisation of the microform set Early American Imprints, Series I (1639-1800) which was itself based on the American bibliography of Charles Evans and enhanced by Roger Bristol's Supplement to Evans' American bibliography. For decades, the collection has served as the definitive resource of information about every aspect of life in 17th and 18th century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, slavery, temperance and witchcraft.

Guides to Australian Manuscripts

Indexes of early printed books

  • An Index of Early Printed Books in the British Museum: from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1500
    Compiled by Robert Proctor
    RB Ref 093, held in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room.
  • Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. First compiled by A.W. Pollard and G.R. Redgrave.
    RB Ref 015.41 11A
  • Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700. Compiled by Donald Wing.
    RB Ref 015.42 12
  • Bibliography of Australia, 1784-1900. Compiled by John Alexander Ferguson.
    RB Ref 016.994

British Library catalogues

  • The British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1975
    Available on Electronic Databases, Workstations 6-11 in Fisher Library and in Fisher Reference Collection, Ref 018.1 13A (print copy)

  • Index of Manuscripts in the British Library
    Fisher Reference Collection, Ref 018.131 3

Material in other libraries

  • British Literary Manuscripts from Cambridge University Library (microform)
    Series 1 - The Medieval Age, c.1150-1500
    Fisher Audio-visual Collection, MIC 820.8 287

  • British Literary Manuscripts from the British Library, London (microform)
    Series 1 - The English Renaissance, c.1500-1700
    Series 2 - The Eighteenth Century, c.1700-c.1800
    Fisher Audio-visual Collection, MIC 820.8 276

  • The Nineteenth Century (microform)
    Women Writers, Specialist Collection. Edited by R.C. Alston and J.A. Sutherland
    Part of the Nineteenth Century Microfiche Programme, produced by Chadwyck-Healy in association with the British Library, which will republish on microfiche nineteenth century English language books and pamphlets of research value within particular subject areas. A range of Specialist Collections is held in other Australian libraries, including Society and Culture in the 19th Century (held at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University). Linguistics (Deakin University), Publishing, Booktrade and the Diffusion of Knowledge (State Library of NSW and Monash University), Visual Arts and Architecture (State Library of NSW and University of Melbourne), and Children's Literature (University of Melbourne).
    Fisher Audio-visual Collection, MIC 820.8 327