Catalogues and Research Tools
We are currently working on various projects to provide online research tools for the Old Library collection, including cataloguing our books to appear on the University of Cambridge's 'LibrarySearch' Catalogue. While this work is ongoing (classmarks CAM and M-R have been completed) we are pleased to announce that we now have in place a searchable shelf list of the Old Library’s oldest books (classmarks A-L). The shelf list also includes provenance information. To search the shelf list, click ‘ctrl + F’ and enter your search term. Please be mindful of variance in transcription of hand-press era books (such as ‘Claudii or ‘Claudij’, ‘Sive’ or ‘Siue’). For this reason, you may prefer to search by author.
A significant proportion of the Old Library collections can also be searched online using the British Library's English Short Title Catalogue, the Universal Short Title Catalogue and Incunabula Short Title Catalogue. Provenance information about the Old Library's Incunabula can be found on the Material Evidence in Incunabula database.
A list of the College's manuscripts can be found in the publication by James, M.R.: A descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the college library of Magdalene College Cambridge Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909. Please note that there have been subsequent donations of manuscripts to the collection since this catalogue's publication. Some of the Old Library medieval manuscripts are described on the Bodleian Library's Medieval Libraries of Great Britain website.
The collection of Ferrar Papers have been digitised and available via a subscription-based service at Adam Matthew Digital. For further information on this collection there is also our Ferrar Forum, including a collaborative handlist of the Ferrar Papers.
Peter Peckard Collection
Peter Peckard, former Master of the College, bequeathed a large number of books to the Old Library. This Peckard Handlist shows how his books were arranged at his parsonage in Fletton, near Peterborough, at the end of the 18th century. The handlist also traces the majority of books to their current location in the Old Library.
Peckard Collection Handlist: Explanatory Notes
The Peckard Collection Handlist is an electronic inventory of books given to Magdalene College by its former Master, Peter Peckard (1718-1797). It is based on a manuscript catalogue of Peckard’s books created at the end of the eighteenth century (R.1.2), and matches the original item description, as it appears in the manuscript copy, to the corresponding book held within the College’s Old Library collections. The manuscript gives the precise location and arrangement of the books at the parsonage house in Fletton, where Peckard was Rector, therefore the handlist provides a detailed insight into a clergyman’s library in the late 18th century.
In instances where an item cannot be located and/or identified in the Old Library from the description provided, the fields have been left blank, but the transcript entry has been retained, so as to provide as complete a picture as possible of Peckard’s original collection– such entries might include “Horatius”, for example, or “an English Bible”, which are, on their own, insufficient for the purpose of identifying a specific reference with confidence.
In other instances, where an item can be identified, but cannot be located within the Old Library collections, complete bibliographic information has been included as a speculative indication of what is most likely to have been referred to in the transcript.
R.1.2 includes a number of entries for duplicate texts, though in most cases, only single copies of the text are present within the Old Library collections. This may be the result either of error or else it is possible that the collection was subject to a process of de-duplication, either at the point of the bequest, or subsequently.
The second tab in the handlist records all ‘Unsorted’ entries for books listed in the Old Library catalogue as items associated with Peter Peckard, but which do not appear in R.1.2 and therefore cannot be matched accordingly. It is possible that some of these items were given to the College by Peckard before 1798, the earliest date cited in R.1.2, which would explain their absence from the inventory.
Valerie Eliot Bequest
In 2013, the College received a bequest of books from Valerie Eliot, wife of T S Eliot. They are fully catalogued on the University of Cambridge's LibrarySearch catalogue.
The Valerie Eliot Bequest Book List contains a complete list of the books from the bequest and further information.