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Printed Scriptures

For many years the standard Bible Catalogue was the Historical catalogue of the printed editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society (London, 1903-1911), by T. H. Darlow and H. F. Moule; the English section revised by A. S. Herbert in 1961. Revisions of the Oceanic, African, Chinese and Indian sections were also published. 'Darlow and Moule' was used as a basis for new accessions to the library until the late 1990s when work began to convert it into electronic format accessible online as one of the CUL special collections. About 90% of the holdings are now catalogued in this way, including Hebrew, Greek and Latin, many of the European languages (in Cyrillic and Roman characters), and most of those of Africa, the Americas, Oceania, Australia & New Zealand. These are also, of course, still listed in the Working Guardbook catalogue held in the Bradshaw Room; as are the holdings in other scripts, mainly Middle and Far Eastern which have yet to go online.

The Scripture Library has its own classification scheme, devised around 60 years ago. It is basically a decimal system in which the area, language and date of the book are coded. The full classmark of a volume consists of BSS (Bible Society Scriptures), followed by the three figure code for languages, e.g. 200-299 = European, 300-499 = African, and so on. Decimal points subdivide these categories to the 2nd, 3rd and, very occasionally, 4th place. They are followed by a century indicator (A=1400, B=1500 etc.), and the year, thus: BSS.950.5.F72 is the first item in the South American language of Zapoteco Istmo published in 1972 (in the original listing method the first or only item in a sequence was not given a running number ‘1’; with items catalogued and re-catalogued online we are including it in order to be consistent with University Library practice). Darlow and Moule and/or Herbert numbers - D&M or DM(H) are quoted where applicable in the online catalogue.


The Library holds more than 500 manuscripts in 184 languages. The greater part of this collection consists of 19th and 20th-century translation material, but a significant number of items in Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Icelandic and Latin are also held. The Historical catalogue of the manuscripts of Bible House Library (London, 1982), compiled by M. R. Falivene and edited by A. F. Jesson, is available in the Bradshaw Room and the Manuscripts Reading Room.


For an online catalogue of the Bible Society's Archives see the Janus catalogue. The original typed catalogue in a set of files is also available. The principal series of the Archives are: Minutes of committees, Correspondence, Registers and financial records, Deposited papers. The Society's published Annual Reports and magazines also contain a wealth of information. There are official histories by John Owen (1816, 1820), George Browne (1859), William Canton (1904-1910) and J. M. Roe (1965) (see reference books catalogued online, below). The Society maintains a 50-year closure period for its Archives (from November 2004).

Reference books

The Society's collection of reference books on related subjects, e.g. history of translation, linguistics, biographies, the bible as artefact, etc., was intended for staff use when the organisation was in London. Many of its holdings are duplicated in the main University Library. A small number are catalogued online with classmarks beginning BSH (Bible Society House); others to be added in due course

Opening hours

Monday to Friday

Book an appointment:

Bible Society's Library, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR


Tel: +44 (0) 1223 333075



Contact us

Bible Society's Library, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR
+44 (0) 1223 333075