skip to content

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 800 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, artefacts, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 120,000 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:

Rachel Rowe, Smuts Librarian for South Asian and Commonwealth Studies
Cambridge University Library
West Road


Please note the Librarian is part-time and usually works at the University Library on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Rachel may be reached by phone on Wednesdays and Thursdays on +44(0)1223 333146, but it is preferable to email details of your enquiry.

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.