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Guide to Collections

Statement of Purpose

The Archives and Special Collections are part of the Library and Student Services, which supports all College knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination.

Specific objectives are:

  • To preserve and protect the Archive collections.
  • To support the College's teaching and research programmes by affording appropriate access to the collections in the Archives.
  • To transfer knowledge generated by the College to business and the community regionally, nationally, internationally by providing and promoting appropriate external access to the collections in the Archives, and as such support the College's dedication to the public good.


The Archives and Special Collections hold a wealth of fascinating institutional, personal archives and rare prints, dating from the 17th century to the present day.  Among its varied collections, the Archives hold:

  • College archives: the institutional records of Queen Mary and Westfield College 1882 to present.
  • Private papers of individuals, and the records of several organisations: dating from the 18th century to the 1990s.
  • Rare prints: dating from 17th century to the 1960s.
  • Rare books: publications collected by Queen Mary and its predecessor organisations dating from 16th century to 20th century
  • Special Collections: Leo Baeck Institute London's Collections and Archive of the Now

The collections are in a range of formats, including paper (e.g. letters, minutes and printed reports), publications, manuscripts, photographs, prints, parchment, cinefilm, audio cassette, video, digital media and artefacts.  Records of the medical colleges are held by St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Archives and Museums.

Archives Catalogue and Information Resources

The Archives Catalogue contains collection, file and item level descriptions of the college archives, private papers and rare print collections.  Search the Archives Catalogue for records relating to your research, or for the names of persons or places featured in the collections. Digital images of some of the items in the collections are available.

Archive resource guides are available to download for the following subjects:

Draft finding aids of uncatalogued collections are also available. To access a draft finding aid email

Rare books and Special Collections that have been catalogued can be found on the main library catalogue. Any item with the location "Closed Access Store" can be viewed by appointment at the Archive Reading Room. 

A draft finding aid for the Leo Baeck Institute London's Pamphlet Collection can be obtained on request from

College Archives

This college archives chart the history and development of Queen Mary, and include the records of Queen Mary College, which originated with the establishment of the People’s Palace in 1887, and Westfield College, which opened in 1882 as a pioneering higher education College for women.  The collections tell the personal stories of former staff and students, and provide a fascinating insight into the history of women in higher education and the social history of East London, from the Victorian period to the present day.  The main elements of the collections are:

For more information on the contribution of women to the history of the College see the Women At Queen Mary Online Exhibition.

Private Papers and Organisations Archives

Arts, humanities and social sciences collections

The personal papers of former lecturers of the College provide evidence of teaching and research.

The papers of other individuals and records of organisations represent primary sources for the study of subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

  • Benson, Stella (1892–1933), novelist, feminist, writer
  • Carlton, Ann, (fl. 1965–2004), Labour Party activist
  • Chesworth, Donald Piers (1923–1991), politician, administrator
  • East London Papers: administrative papers, and journal of history, social studies and the arts
  • Fowler, Rachel Elfreda (fl. 1872-1927), art historian
  • Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786–1846), painter
  • LIBRIS, independent publishers, specialising in German literature: correspondence 1986-2014
  • Lyttelton, General Sir Neville Gerald (1845–1931), army officer
  • Martin, John (1789–1854), painter
  • Maynard, Constance (1849–1935), writer
  • National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers: records c.1889–1989
  • Palmer, Samuel (1805–1881), painter
  • People's Palace Projects: records 2008-
  • Smetham, James (1821–1889), painter
  • Skeel family, merchants and apothecaries: family papers 1785–1928
  • Temple, William (1881–1944), archbishop of Canterbury
  • Wakefield, Edward Gibbon (1796–1862), colonial statesman
  • Wyld, Professor Henry Cecil Kennedy (1870–1945), professor of English

Science and Engineering Collections
Personal papers of former lecturers and students of the College provide evidence of science and engineering teaching and research.

  • Brooke, Eileen (d.1989), mathematician
  • Delf Smith, Ellen (1883–1980), botantist
  • Garwood, Robert Francis, (1914–1984), chemistry lecturer
  • Jones, Gwyn Owain, (fl. 1949), professor and head of the department of physics
  • MacGregor-Morris, John Turner (1872–1959), professor of electrical engineering


Special Collections

Leo Baeck Institute London's Pamphlet Collection

For information about what is contained in this collection please see the dedicated page on Leo Baeck Institute London's website.

This collection is fully listed and awaiting final arrangement. To access a draft catalogue please email us


Digitised Records

Online access to digital versions of records held by the Archives are available through our Digitised Records page. This includes:

Further Information

For further information about our collections or to make a research enquiry contact

Printable leaflets about the archives can be downloaded here:

Student Reminiscences [PDF 713KB]



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