Cambridgeshire Collection - Catalogues and Indexes

Researchers are strongly advised to make an appointment to consult Chris Jakes, Librarian of the Cambridgeshire Collection, who has extensive specialist knowledge of the department and its resources, email

The Cambridgeshire Collection was established in 1855 to collect contemporary material relating to Cambridge and its county. In 1964 I started to organise and expand the accumulated material and over the next 30 years compiled a variety of specialist catalogues and indexes many of which are still available.


The Cambridgeshire Collection has many thousands of books, reports, journals and articles, each of which was catalogued in detail.
The card catalogue had two sections:
Name catalogue : an A - Z sequence containing entries by author, place and Cambridge buildings.

Classified catalogue arranged by subject numbers

The card book catalogue has now replaced with a computerised version. During its compilation many spelling and other errors were made and a great deal of information omitted. It can however be searched on the library’s website at

This brings up a catalogue which includes entries for Cambridgeshire books which can be borrowed for use at home. Many of these will be housed in the Cambridgeshire Collection’s extensive duplicates loan files including many unusual and rare items.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE MAIN CAMBRIDGESHIRE COLLECTION CATALOGUE. You need to select "Local Studies" and in the ‘General Keyword’ section can search for places or buildings.
he classified subject section which allows searches to be made for topics such as the First World War, poetry, fiction, health, social history or water supply is only accessible on two screens in the Cambridgeshire Collection; it is not available on the web or on any other library terminals.
Staff will fetch the books for you on completion of a ‘Book Request Form’

Other guides:


The Cambridgeshire Collection has files of nearly 40 local newspapers from 1762 to date together with
newspaper cuttings on hundreds of topics since the 1960s.

There are a number of indexes

News Index 1770 to 1899: a card index divided into three sequences:
a) Cambridge and miscellaneous A - Z.
b) Places A - Z.
c) topics arranged by the same subject numbers as in the book catalogue.
Each sequence is divided into three sections:
1) chronological 1770-1819; a detailed index to the Cambridge Chronicle newspaper covering all sections of the paper;
2) chronological 1820-1899; an index to news appearing in the village news columns of the Cambridge Chronicle or Independent press;
3) a mixture of dates and information gleaned from a variety of sources.
'Chronicles': many of the stories have been transcribed or published. For other topics complete a News Index form. Staff will show you how to use a microfilm reader.

This News Index was published on microfiche by Chadwyck Healey as part of their National Inventory of Documentary Sources collection. It is available in the University Library.

Century of Cambridge News 1888–1988 (& supplement): a detailed classified index to Cambridge headlines compiled from newspapers, cuttings and other sources. A copy of this index is obtainable on disk from Mike Petty

Other Newspaper indexes
There are various other guides and indexes including Peeps from the Past and Reviews of the Year which will identify stories for particular years

Cambridge Evening News website
The CEN website – – has a search facility that enables you to find stories that have appeared in their paper within the last few years. They have also published a CD-Rom entitled 20th-century Cambridgeshire that includes local and national stories from 1900-2000. Copies are obtainable from the Cambridge Evening News, Milton – phone 01223 434434

The Cambridgeshire Collection maintains files of newspaper cuttings on 850 topics since 1960; they include each village, most Cambridge streets and topics such as roads, weather, local firms etc. There is a card index of headings. This is a most valuable resource for many researchers; ask the staff for files that might assist you.

Other guides
Separate notes on Cambridgeshire Newspapers and the Local Researcher are available from Mike Petty
M.J. MURPHY, Cambridge newspapers & opinion 1780-1850. Oleander Press. 1977


The The Cambridgeshire Collection has a large number of illustrations including prints, paintings, drawings, postcards, videos, photographs and negatives. Other Collections are also currently deposited in the department. Many of the pictures will have been individually studied and catalogued, with entries made for significant details, such as windmills, buses etc

The main Cambridgeshire Collection Illustrations Catalogue is arranged by subject headings with individual
pictures catalogued on standard library cards.
Cambridge pictures are represented by letters A - P.
Topics are arranged by letters Q - X.
Villages are arranged under Y.
A list of the headings used is available from Mike Petty

Pictures are arranged by subjects in chronological order. Each picture has its own individual accession number. Many of the cards will include a small photographic copy of the picture to assist identification. There may be cards referring to other catalogues, especially of negatives which can be particularly important and extensive.

The illustrations card catalogue was published by Chadwyck Healey as part of their National Inventory of Documentary Sources series.

Part of this catalogue is on the website at

Complete the pink Illustrations Request Form and staff will find the items

Other collections

of illustrations

Aerial Photographs of Cambridge taken from the 1960s and a county-wide survey in the 1980s
Cambridge Antiquarian Society's Photographic Record in the 1920s and 30s; the card catalogue is arranged by place, Cambridge pictures being subdivided into subjects. There is a separate index to negatives
Portraits collection: a very large number of negatives of portraits taken by Ramsey and Muspratt and predecessor photographers in Post Office Terrace between c1870 and c 1970 with separate indexes
Negatives: extensive files of original negatives from a number of photographers including Thomas Stearn. Capt Hatfield, Briscoe Snelson, W.Martin Lane, Percy Salmon & the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. These are listed separately in folders and have supplementary indexes.
Transparencies: original transparencies and copies of items such as old pictures, maps, books etc. listed in a
separate catalogue
Lantern Slides
Videos : indexed by name and in classified sequences

Supplementary Indexes include engravers, artists, photographers, postcard series
Copying: a full copying service is available

Other Guides
R. WILLIS & J.W. CLARK. The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge. vol.1 1886 (reprint 1988) includes a list of engravings of Cambridge
Notes on Cambridge Illustrators and Photographers are available from Mike Petty


The Collection has files of published maps of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire from 1574 which include Ordnance Survey maps on all scales from 1888.

Single-sheet maps
There are separate catalogues for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. Each catalogue has three sections:

a) Chronological sequence
b) name indexes to cartographer, engravers etc;
c) a subject index for geological maps, soil surveys etc.

Plans: there are separate catalogues for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire with Cambridge properties listed by name and Cambridgeshire properties under the name of the village.

Ordnance Survey
The Collection holds maps on the 2½” (1:25,000) , 6" (1:10,000) and 25" (1:2,500) scales for much of Cambridgeshire and on the 50" ( 1:500) scale for Cambridge itself.
There are base maps marking their holdings; the 1901, 1927 and 1950 editions of the 6" and 25" maps are on one base, later editions on others. Village sheets are listed in a card index.

More recent coverage is available on a computer from which it is possible to print out maps.
To request maps seek staff assistance

Other guides:
J W CLARK & A GRAY, Old Plans of Cambridge 1574 - 1798. 1921
H G FORDHAM, Cambridgeshire Maps 1576 - 1878. 1908.


The Collection has an extensive file of handbills depicting events, political addresses and council official notices etc. There is a separate catalogue in two sections: a chronological list and name and subject indexes

The collection has several thousand playbills mainly from the Theatre Royal between c.1780 and c.1880. The cataloguing of this material is not yet complete. The catalogue has three sections: a chronological list; an index to plays performed; an index to actors performing.
There is also an index to plays performed at the Festival and Arts Theatres.
They also hold large files of programmes for the Festival, New and Arts Theatre

Files of modern posters dating back to the 1960s. The catalogue of this material is not complete

Other guides:
P. WARD. Cambridge Street Literature. Oleander Press. 1978


The Collection holds several thousand sale and auction particulars. They include many selected since 1964 to reflect changes in the area and covering such items as sales of village shops, pubs, schools and churches, brochures for new housing estates etc. For Cambridge itself there are representative brochures for most streets in the city. The catalogue has two sections:

1. A-Z by place, subdivided by street;
2. a subject index, to commercial property, farms, housing estates etc.

Note : An extensive collection of Victorian sales particulars is housed in the University Library Map Room


Tape recordings may be open spool or cassette. They are catalogued with Indexes to contents. There are cross reference cards in other indexes. A summary of the contents of a transcript of the tape may be available from staff desk. The Collection also holds published cassettes and disks of Cambridgeshire material.



The Collection holds a large number of Billheads from local shops and companies and has indexed Display Advertisements published in many sources which give an indication of the range of services offered. These are listed together.

The catalogue has two sections:

1. A - Z by name;
2. Subject index arranged by type of trade - grocers, wheelwrights etc.


There is a separate index of watch and clock makers and menders. This brings together information from national specialist dictionaries and items indexed in local directories and newspapers etc. It lists dates and places where named clockmakers were working.

The index is in two sections:

1. A-Z by name of clockmaker;
2. Place index.


A record of sites of Industrial Archaeology interest compiled by members of the Cambridge Society for Industrial Archaeology and currently deposited in the Cambridgeshire Collection. The record cards describe the monument and often contain measurements and illustrations.

The catalogue has two sections:

1. A-Z by place;
2. A-Z by type of monument - watermill, carpet-beating works etc.


An index bringing together items listed in book catalogue, news index and illustrations catalogue arranged under place.


Cambridgeshire Collection Local Biography Index
An index to the lives and achievements of Cambridgeshire people, past and present. This index includes biographical articles and obituaries appearing in newspapers, magazines, books etc; it also indicates where material is listed in the Book catalogue and records details of portraits wherever published.

There are other specialist indexes – ask staff for details


M.J. Petty MBE, MA, ALA, 13a Reads Street, Stretham, Ely, Cambs. CB6 3JT
phone 01353 648106 E-mail
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