Researchers and Special Collections

Pembroke has Special Collections in several subject areas, as well as a small manuscript collection. For more details about our digitised collections, please see our Online Collections page.  Much of our collection is listed on the ESTC, while the Johnson collection is largely catalogued on SOLO. Items from the Special Collections are regularly featured on the News page.

In addition, if there is a book in the modern collection that is only available at Pembroke, external researchers are welcome to apply for access. Email to make an appointment to visit.

Any archive enquiries should be sent to Amanda Ingram, the college archivist: See also the archive webpages.

Samuel Johnson Collection

Johnson was a student at Pembroke in 1728, and despite his early departure from the college, he continued to visit and retained a great affection for his old college. The library has a large collection of his works, including complete runs of The Rambler, several dictionaries and hard-to-find modern works on Johnson.

The Chandler Collection

Henry Chandler was a classics fellow at Pembroke in the mid-nineteenth century, specialising in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. On his death, he bequeathed his books to the Master's wife, and she later gave them to the college library for safekeeping. The collection contains rare editions of the Ethics, as well as other philosophical works. Although it has not been catalogued online, a printed catalogue is available for consultation in the library.

The Blackstone Collection

A recent generous donation has given Pembroke an excellent collection of rare Blackstone texts, containing early editions of Commentaries on the Laws of England, later commentaries on the commentaries, and some contemporary scholarship. See the News page for more information.

John Hall's Library

John Hall was Master of Pembroke from 1664 to his death in 1710. He left his books to the college, which necessitated moving the library from St Aldate's church to a larger space above Broadgates Hall. It is an eclectic collection of religious and classical material, much of which is listed on the ESTC. There is also a card catalogue in the library.

Wombridge Collection

Wombridge was the family seat of the Wightwick family, original benefactors of the college. We have a small book collection reflecting the interests of the family in the eighteenth century, with legal textbooks, classical texts and a few curiosities.


Pembroke's collection of manuscripts includes several medieval medical texts, religious works and commentaries. There is also one of the log books of Thomas Atkinson, Master of the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and an early copy of Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici. Several of our manuscripts, including our Book of Hours, have been digitised and are available to view on the Digital Collections page.

Syriac Manuscripts

A gift of Athelstan Riley, a noted Syriac scholar and hymn writer of the early twentieth century, the college has a small collection of Syriac manuscripts dating from the late twelfth to mid-nineteenth century.