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The University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield Library

One of the group of 'major civic universities', the University of Sheffield was founded in 1905 when University College, Sheffield received its Charter conferring University status. In July of that year the new institution was honoured by a Royal visit at which the new buildings constructed on the fringe of Weston Park were opened by King Edward VII and his Queen. The Library up to this point had been poorly endowed, but on the day of the opening William Edgar Allen, a Sheffield businessman, generously announced that he would pay for the new purpose-built Library which came to bear his name, opened in 1909 and itself honoured by a Royal opening ceremony attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Generous donations of books significantly improved the collections, notably by Sir Charles Harding Firth, Regius Professor of History at Oxford, who had previously been the first Lecturer in History at Sheffield's Firth College (founded by the industrialist Mark Firth and an early forerunner of the University). As the University expanded during the following decades the need for a new library once again became pressing, and the present modern Main Library (now a listed building), incorporating elevations of plate glass with Portland stone facings and provided with generous stack space, was opened by T.S. Eliot in 1959. Major site libraries for the Health Sciences and the Applied Sciences, together with a number of smaller sites, complete a much expanded library system currently serving 15,000 FTE undergraduates (18,000 individuals) and 5,000 postgraduates, many of the latter from overseas.

Particular strengths are the transmission of knowledge in the 17th century (Samuel Hartlib Papers); the political history of the later 19th and the 20th centuries (Anthony John Mundella Papers, Henry Joseph Wilson Papers, W.A.S. Hewins Manuscripts) including extremist politics of the 1930s (Robert Saunders Papers, Lazar Zaidman Papers); and the history of science (the Papers of Sir Hans Krebs, biochemist, refugee from Nazism, and Nobel laureate; of Lord Dainton, chemist, academic, man of public affairs and Chancellor of the University of Sheffield; and of Harold Miller, medical radiophysicist, pacifist and Methodist). The number of archive collections, presently numbering about 60, continues to grow, and reflects the research and teaching interests, and the institutional history, of the University of Sheffield.

The National Fairground Archive, founded by Professor Vanessa Toulmin, was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield in 1994

Special feature: Forensics


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