skip to content
 

An extensive collection of largely British, French and German books, periodicals, pamphlets and ephemera relating to the 1914–1919 war (classmark WRA–WRE, also known as the War Reserve Collection), particularly notable for fugitive material. It includes around 800 British and Dominion trench journals. It is largely the result of efforts made by Francis Jenkinson (1853–1923), University Librarian, who wrote numerous letters to contacts worldwide asking them to send material. An advert was also placed in the Cambridge Magazine in 1915 ("Such flying pieces as those which are dropped from aeroplanes or posted on hoardings would be particularly welcome"), and a colleague was sent to France to buy material. Jenkinson's correspondence and diaries are now kept in the Manuscripts Department (around 400 letters at classmark MS Add. 6444; diaries at MS Add. 7407–47).

Much of the collection has now been microfilmed by Adam Matthew Publications for the series The First World War: a documentary record (see References below). In many cases, because of the fragility of the material, we no longer fetch the original items, but require readers to consult the microfilm. Guides to the microfilm series are available at the Staff Desk. Microfilms are generally ordered in the West Room, but can be transferred to Rare Books for use in conjunction with other material.

The War card catalogue in the Rare Books catalogue annexe contains author and anonymous title information for items in the collection. Many of the books in the collection appear on iDiscover. However, ephemera and a large number of pamphlets and minor periodicals are listed only in the card catalogue. The card catalogue also includes books held elsewhere in the Library's collections, which are generally catalogued also in the Pre-1978 General Catalogue, iDiscover or the Supplementary Catalogue. Class catalogues for the collection WRA–WRE, which list items in shelf order, can be ordered at the Rare Books Room Desk.

The material is arranged firstly by size (denoted by the letters A–E after WR—for 'War Reserve'—in the classmark prefix WRA–WRE). For books, this is followed by a number denoting subject area as follows:

1 Parliamentary Papers. Diplomatic correspondence and official documents 
2 Political and historical literature (incl. general histories, causes, origins) 
11 Military operations 
12 Naval operations 
13 Aerial operations 
14 R.A.M.C., Red Cross work. Y.M.C.A. Auxiliary Services 
15 German occupation. Deportations. Vandalism 
16 Prisoners. Atrocities 
17 Personal narratives and reminiscences 
18 Regimental records 
19 Pictures, illustrations 
   
30 Economics. Finanace. Socialism 
33 Russian affairs. Bolshevism 
34 Pacifist literature 
35a Propaganda (Allies) 
35b Propaganda (Germany)
36 Sermons. Charities. Religion. Benevolent Societies 
40 Social life. Sports and Amusements 
41 Peace. League of Nations 
42 Literature
44 Rolls of Honour. Memorial volumes 
45 Reconstruction
46 Miscellaneous
   
50 Bibliography

The final number in the classmark is a running number. 

Advertisement from Wails of the wounded: or, Convalescent carollings from the Royal Free Military Hospital, 1, June 1916. WRD.413There is also much secondary material relating to the First World War in the 'Upper Library' classes 1914–1920, sizes 4–20. Most of these items are catalogued in the Supplementary Catalogue or iDiscover, and are listed also in the War Collection card catalogue. In many sizes a specific section of 1919 has been designated 'War Collection' and contains war-related material from 1914–1919. These sections are: 

  • 1919.6.801–927 
  • 1919.7.2431–3003 
  • 1919.8.450–685 
  • 1919.9.296–426 
  • 1919.10.175–196 
  • 1919.11.80–101 
  • 1919.12.50–65 
  • 1919.13.13–20 
  • 1919.20.1 

Material from classes 1919.6–1919.20 should be ordered in the West Room, where you may also request the relevant class catalogues. First World War material can also be found in classes 537–539 (open shelves) and 9537 (Reading Room), and there is a separate, small collection of War Posters (a listing is available from Rare Books Room staff).

The Manuscripts Department also holds material relating the First World War, including several collections of letters home from officers and men serving on the Western Front. Further information is given in the subject guide to Military archives

References and further reading: 

  • 'For the historian of the future', Cambridge Magazine, 4, 1915, 209. Cam.b.31.25
  • Stephen Gaselee, 'Francis Jenkinson, 1853–1923', The Library, 4th ser., IV(3), 1923, 161–164. Cam.c.923.11
  • Mark Nicholls, 'A reason for remembering: Francis Jenkinson and the War Reserve Collection', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, XI(4), 1999, 497–515. B990.22
  • John Pegum, 'British Army trench journals and a geography of identity', in Mary Hammond & Shafquat Towheed (Eds.), Publishing in the First World War (pp. 129–147, esp. 'The collections', pp. 130–134) (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) 539.c.200.807
  • [C.E. Sayle?], 'The War Collection', U.L.C., 1(2), 1921, 1–2. Cam.b.21.1
  • Hugh Fraser Stewart, Francis Jenkinson, fellow of Trinity College Cambridge and university librarian: a memoir (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926). Cam.c.926.2