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Cambridge University Library


Cam Papers consists of uncatalogued printed ephemera relating to the University and its societies, and the City of Cambridge. These include leaflets, posters, notices, programmes and newspaper cuttings. Anything which may be more properly regarded as a pamphlet has been placed in the class Cam and entered in the catalogue. None of the material in Cam Papers is in the catalogues.  This searchable PDF listing currently names over 1300 different student societies and groups, giving their active dates and will be updated periodically. Readers may also wish to consult the annotated copy of Cambridge Papers Classification, available at the Staff Desk - an outline of the classification scheme is given below.Neither of these lists individual items held, so if you are interested in a particular society or subject area, staff will fetch the relevant boxes for you to examine. Cam Papers complements the University Archives, available through the Manuscripts reading room.

Official papers issued by the University or its officers between 1818 and 1870 form the basis of the collection (although the earliest item dates back to 1643). It was then the custom to distribute all official notices and announcements printed on single sheets of paper, and it is due to the foresight of half a dozen members of the University who preserved those loose sheets and gave their collections to the Library that we possess an almost complete series.

In 1870 it was decided to compose these official notices into a weekly gazette, the Cambridge University Reporter, and thereafter the need to preserve individual sheets ceased. As the number of official papers coming into the collection falls around this time, the extent of miscellaneous material increases. Notices of societies, meetings, lectures, dinners; programmes of theatrical and musical events; this ephemeral printed evidence of Cambridge's social, intellectual and cultural life appears in Cam Papers in ever-increasing volume.

Up to 1913 the collection was deposited in a number of albums; but for some years from that date it suffered neglect, new accessions being stored in boxes as they came in. At length in 1938 the material was sifted and duplicates removed. The 27,000 pieces which remained were grouped according to subject or to the bodies responsible for their issue. The scheme of subject headings - listed below - has remained the same since that time, though it has been extended to take in new kinds of material. A more detailed guide is available at the Staff Desk. The papers are placed in loose-leaf albums or archival boxes in alphabetical or chronological order within the subject heading.

The staff of the Rare Books Department will be pleased to receive at any time material thought to be suitable for the collection. Since 2009 members of the department have attended the annual Freshers' Fair to collect examples of promotional material relating to societies, to give a snapshot of the materials being created. We are very happy to speak further with representatives of societies who might have material they would like to donate. 

Outline classification scheme for Cam Papers

AB University Officers
AC Administrative bodies
AM Preachers
BA University property: buildings
BB University property: land
BE Purchases
BG Benefactions
BM Pensions
BP Memorial funds
CH Discipline and Residence
CM Town and University relations
DC Special
DF Advanced and external
EA Professors
EC Readers
EE Lecturers
EG Teachers
EI Demonstrators
EJ Assistant Directors of Research
EL Assistants to Professors
EM Special foundations (e.g. Rede, Sandars)
EP Lectures
ER Examinations
ET Extra-University studies
FA Separate
FH Colleges (Men)
FI Colleges (Women)
FM Training Colleges
FO Other institutions
GA Scholarships, etc.
GF Prizes, etc.
HB B.A. degree: general
HC B.A. degree, Ordinary
HD B.A. degree, Honours
HF M.A. and higher degrees
HH Diplomas
HM Ceremonies
HN Complimentary addresses, etc.
HO Complimentary or commemorative dinners, etc.
HV Congresses, etc. at Cambridge
IH Church Patronage
MA Chronological series
MC Religion
MD Missions
ME Politics
MG Art and Music
MI Sport
MK Unofficial dinners
MM Private entertainments
MO Meetings not included elsewhere
MP Facetiae
MQ Student protest
MR Advertisements for publications by or about members of the University, etc.
MT Advertisements for University magazines, etc.
MU Buildings, etc. controlled by members of the University
MY Obituary notices and service sheets



  • Bartholomew, A.T. Catalogue of the books and papers for the most part relating to the University, town, and county of Cambridge, bequeathed to the University by John Willis Clark. Cambridge, 1912. B125:7.CAM.2