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Cambridge University Library


Picture credit: Detail from Reminiscences of Bombay, artist M.F. Pithawalla (RCMS 89/70/15)

Welcome to the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Library

The Library is a treasure-trove of information, pictorial and written, print and manuscript, on the Commonwealth and Britain's former colonial territories, founded in 1868 and home today to a growing collection of over 300,000 printed items (monographs, pamphlets, periodicals and official publications), over 900 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, artefacts, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 125,000 photographs (albums, loose prints, slides, glass plate negatives and lantern slides).

The RCS Library comprises the collections amassed by the Colonial Society, and its successors the Royal Colonial Institute, Royal Empire Society and Royal Commonwealth Society. It was acquired by Cambridge University Library in 1993.  Brief history of the RCS collection.

Additional archives and photograph collections are regularly acquired by donation, and projects are under-way to make these accessible to the public.



Contact us

Please address enquiries about RCS holdings to:

RCS Curator
Cambridge University Library
West Road


Please note that we receive a very large volume of enquires, so our reply to you may be delayed.

Given the nature of archival work, it is very difficult to reach the Curator by telephone, therefore email is recommended.  Our phone number: +44(0)1223 333146.

If your enquiry concerns a valuation, please note that we are unable to provide valuations.  We recommend you contact a specialist antiquarian bookseller or auction house.