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The former designation for Class Doc. - 'Chart.' - indicates the original composition of this varied collection. When established, early this century, the class was intended to provide a home for items of a strictly archival character, mirroring a traditional muniment room with its holdings of title deeds, manorial court records, and accounting papers, as distinct from the broader literary scope embraced by the Library's series of Additional manuscripts. From very early on, however, the already somewhat vague distinction was blurred still further, and for many years the choice between placing a particular manuscript in 'Doc.' or 'Add.' was often resolved through consideration of its physical form alone, rolls and loose documents being added to the former series, bound volumes in the latter. With over 4,100 items at the time of writing, Doc. remains one of the least predictable classes in the Library's collections, embracing material as diverse as a third-millenium BC Babylonian clay tablet, defunct nineteenth-century fireworks, manorial papers for estates on the Scilly Isles, and documents relating to the Western Front in 1918.

Catalogue descriptions of many of the Doc class are continually being added to ArchiveSearch. There are also descriptions available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Contact: Department of Manuscripts (01223 333143;