skip to content

During Lockdown 3, our libraries continue to support you as you study, teach and research. Access the libraries online and seek support via our remote services or, if the material you need isn’t available electronically, use our Zero-contact services

Cambridge University Library


The University Library Department of Manuscripts holds several collections relating to the life and work of the historian John Emerich Edward Charles Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton (1834-1902). Of these the most substantial are the groups of Acton's own working notes, Add. MS 4757-5021, Add. MSS 5381-5710, and the set of correspondence and other papers at Add. MS 8119-8123. In the latter are to be found letters to Acton from British, Continental and North American correspondents, including substantial series from Ignaz von Döllinger, Richard Simpson and T. F. Wetherell. Other correspondents include W. E. Gladstone, J. H. Newman, and many of the bishops associated with the minority at the First Vatican Council. Also here are large groups of correspondence between Acton's immediate ancestors, and between Acton and his own family. Smaller holdings of the Department include Add. MS 6443, a set of letters to Acton on the subject of the Cambridge Modern History. The University Library also holds Acton's own vast collection of printed books.

An overview catalogue of the collection can be found on the Janus website, whilst various lists and indexes are available in the Manuscripts Reading Room, including a detailed catalogue to Add. 8119-8123 prepared with the generous assistance of the Leverhulme Trust. These collections may be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room by holders of full Library reader's tickets.

Contact: John Wells (01223 333055;