At last! New Archive Catalogue finally online

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Regular users of Special Collections will know that over the last 5 years or so we have been promising that our new Archive Catalogue was in preparation and would be online ‘soon’. That ‘soon’ wasn’t quite as soon as we would have hoped but it was at last launched at the Friends of the Library lecture, given by Douglas Dunn, one of Scotland’s foremost poets, on 22nd November. Douglas’s extensive archive of papers, letters and notebooks are included in the catalogue.

Initial from the works of Augustine of Hippo, c.1190 (msBR65.A9)

The Archive Catalogue is now available to search at

It contains all the records which were in the old Manuscripts Database, and many more, amounting to over 50,000 records in all. You can find both manuscripts and muniments, though not all our collections are catalogued, and some are only listed at collection level and so don’t yet contain detailed records.

We are constantly working to add more records and also to convert our old hard-copy lists to digital format and put them into the database too so the catalogue will continue to expand and improve.

Sophisticated searching is possible and there is a page of hints and tips on how to make the most of the search functions.

Tree view of papers of Sir David Russell (ms38515)

You can also browse through the records for each collection using the hierarchical tree, which allows you to view the organisation of the collection and see each item in context.

There’s too much to give more than a flavour of the archival records for our collections which can now be viewed. But a few highlights would include letters and articles by writer and folklorist, Andrew Lang, celebrating the centenary of his death this year;

Andrew Lang
Article by Andrew Lang writing as the Foreign Correspondent (FC) for St Leonards Magazine, 1865 (ms30130)

notebooks of David Hay Fleming, eminent local historian;

estate papers from many local estates including Graham of Morphie, Cheapes of Rossie, Hay of Leys and Gilmour of Montrave;

travel journals by James David Forbes on his tours of mountains and glaciers in Switzerland and Norway;

I23 1842_Page_4
Notebook kept by J D Forbes on expedition in Switzerland, 1842 (msdep7/box15/I/23)
golf charter
Charter confirming the rights of the townspeople of St Andrews to play golf on the links, 1553 (msdep106/1)

the 1553 golf charter which gave rights to the citizens of St Andrews to play golf on the links;

the small but beautiful Oriental collection;

Mrs Patrick Playfair’s playful and chatty diaries on life in Scotland in the first half of the 19th century;

Cook album
Drawing of St Andrews academic by Professor John Cook, 1797 (ms38799)

the massive manuscript volume of the works of Augustine of Hippo, which has been in St Andrews since its creation in the cathedral here around 1190;

Gillespie and Scott’s architectural plans for buildings in St Andrews and North-East Fife, many of which are almost works of art in their own right;

Plans by Gillespie and Scott for Argyle Lodging, St Andrews, 1891 (ms37778b/BN222/4)

Roberta McIntosh’s marine annelid watercolours, created for her brother William Carmichael McIntosh to help illustrate his research.

Watercolour drawing of marine annelid by Roberta McIntosh, c.1865 (ms36347/2/2/14)
Lead bulla
Lead bulla on papal bull showing St Peter and St Paul, 1413 (UYUY100)

There are also many fascinating documents in the Muniment collection, the institutional and administrative records of the University itself. These show how the University has been constituted and run for the last 600 years.

Highlights include the 1413 bull of foundation of the University issued by Pope Benedict XIII;

manuscript volume by Robert Howie, Principal of St Mary’s College from 1607-1647, transcribing early University records;

title deeds and charters for each of the colleges which make up the University, St Salvator’s, St Leonard’s and St Mary’s;

Charter granting alms to the church of St Andrew the apostle, 1215 (UYSL110/PW/3)

Francis Pringle’s 18th century Collection of College Papers and commonplace book;

Detail from Pringle’s book of College Papers, 18th c (UYSL156)

Please try out the new catalogue and let us know what you think.

Book of Wonders
Book of Wonders, Persian, 17-18th c (ms32(o))

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3 thoughts on "At last! New Archive Catalogue finally online"

  • Louise Knowles
    Louise Knowles
    Tuesday 4 December 2012, 10.42am

    CONGRATULATIONS and thank you. ! Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2012 05:02:48 +0000 To: [email protected]

  • Christine Gascoigne
    Christine Gascoigne
    Tuesday 4 December 2012, 4.43pm

    Well done all! I look forward to exploring it in detail.

  • At last! New Archive Catalogue finally online | Special Collections Librarianship |
    Sunday 9 December 2012, 10.44am

    [...] Regular users of Special Collections will know that over the last 5 years or so we have been promising that our new Archive Catalogue was in preparation and would be online ‘soon’.  [...]


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