Village Studies in the Cambridgeshire Collection


The Cambridgeshire Collection housed on the third floor of the Central Library, Lion Yard, Cambridge is the major resource for printed material on the old counties of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Huntingdonshire material is housed at Huntingdon Library and in the Norris Museum at St Ives. Archival material is held in the County Record Offices at Shire Hall Cambridge and Grammar School Walk, Huntingdon.

The Collection has books, magazines, newspapers, maps, pictures and ephemera relating to villages and all other aspects of the county, past or present. There are detailed catalogues and indexes the most important of which is now only available online. See my guide to Cambridgeshire Collection catalogues and indexes

The Librarian, Chris Jakes, is happy to offer advice and guidance – phone 01223 728519 or email .


Finding books
There are thousands of other books about Cambridgeshire villages. They are listed under village name in the computerised book catalogue. This part of the catalogue is on the libraries’ website at The first section that comes up is the main library catalogue. You can type in the name of your village and will find lists of books for loan. Many of these will be held in the Cambridgeshire Collection’s loan stock.

But this is not the main Cambridgeshire Collection catalogue. You must specify "Additional Searches", then "Local Studies" before you can start searching by typing in the village name. When you have found something you’d like to consult complete a Book Request Form and staff will bring items to you. When you have any difficulties ask the staff.

Victoria County History.
The starting point for any village history is the appropriate volume of the VCH. These include notes on social history, manors, churches etc and contain footnotes referring to other sources. These are on the Collection’s shelves under the class number c.44.1. These volumes are also published online

Kelly's Directories of Cambridgeshire were issued from 1847 to 1937 and not only contain notes about the village at the time but also list the shopkeepers, public houses, blacksmiths, tailors and other trades. There is a selection on the Collection’s shelves at the class number c.47.2. Ask staff for other years. A number are online

Electronic Resources

More and more books are now available online including Google Book Search - and Internet Archive -
See my guide to Cambridgeshire History Websites. Other information is being issued on CD-Roms including the Enumerators’ Returns of the Census from 1841 which can be consulted on computers in the library.


The Cambridgeshire Collection has files of original Cambridgeshire newspapers from 1770.

Many items of village news between 1770 and 1899 have been recorded in the News Index. Many of the stories have been transcribed or published, ask the staff if there is a “Chronicle” for your village before starting to use microfilm. Other newspapers can be searched online. See my separate guide to Cambridgeshire Newspapers & the Cambridgeshire Researcher.

Newspaper cuttings

The Collection has cuttings files for each village since the early 1960s which reflect the major issues affecting local life: the building of new schools, traffic problems, housing development and expansion plans, industry etc. There may well be articles about the village in the past. Ask for the Newspaper cuttings files for your village. I have placed 4,000 pages of stories from 1897 to 1990 online -


The Collection has thousands of illustrations ranging from engravings to videos. See my separate guide to Cambridgeshire Illustrations aricles -

Village pictures are listed in the Illustrations Catalogue under the class number “Y” followed by the first three or four letters of the name of the village – this Histon is Y.His., Milton is Y.Mil. You will find cards filed in date order describing each picture. Many cards have a small copy of the picture stuck to them to make identification easier. Copy the class and accession numbers on to the pink Illustrations Request Form. Staff will find the picture for you. You can make photocopies or order photographic reproductions.

The Cambridge Antiquarian Society's photographic record is deposited in the Collection and contains many original photographs taken in the 1920s and 1930s. There is a separate catalogue. Ask staff for details. Members of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society may have free access to this collection


The Collection has copies of most of the printed county maps from 1576. At this scale villages are usually only shown as a dot on the map. However some maps such as geological, soil survey and land utilisation surveys can show details of the surrounding countryside.

Ordnance survey maps on the 6" and 25” scales give details of village streets, houses, windmills etc. There are editions published around 1880, 1901, 1927, 1951 and 1977. Which scale you choose will depend on the amount of detail you need and the size of your village. There is a card index to village maps in the drawer marked “Index to Ordnance Survey maps”. More recent Ordnance Survey coverage is provided on a computer database searchable by name or postcode. Ask staff for assistance. Several websites cover OS maps including and National Library of Scotland -

Other plans of the village may be found in the “Cambridgeshire Plans” catalogue.

Sale Particulars

The Collection has files of estate agents particulars of more important houses, shops and housing estates built up since the 1960s. Some older sales particulars are also held. These are listed in a card index of sales particulars. Staff will find them for you. Note: Cambridge University Library Map Room has larger files of older sales particulars.

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