Inspiring Collections


Hartlib Papers

This is a truly unique archive of more than 20,000 manuscript pages.

Samuel Hartlib was a seventeenth-century educationalist, natural philosopher, and polymath.

This unique collection of his papers comprises mostly correspondence from contemporary thinkers including Moravian educationalist and reformer Comenius; John Milton; Andrew Marvell; Robert Boyle; Oliver Cromwell; Christopher Wren; Rene Descartes; and Blaise Pascal.

Find out more

An image of The graduation wall hanging in Western Bank Library.

Graduation by Diana Springall

The ‘Graduation’ wall hanging by Diana Springall was commissioned in 1987 by Convocation; it is displayed on the back wall on level 5 Cataloguing Hall in Western Bank Library where it has been since 1988.

 The space on the wall was identified by the Heritage Committee and Convocation as being a suitable place for a work of art to mark the Centenary of the foundation of Firth College, one of the University’s predecessors. The work has been an integral feature and focal point since its inception and Western Bank Library was chosen due to its importance in the life of all students.

[Read more]

At 40 feet long by 8 feet high (12.3 x 2.5 metres), Graduation shows graduates and academic staff moving across the undulating panels in order to suggest the continuance of membership of the University. The figures are depicted in appliqué material with each Faculty represented. The thinking behind creating this image was to identify one of the great reasons why people chose to come to university – to graduate with their degree.

 Artist, Diana Springall, trained at Goldsmith College School of Art in London and is a member of the Embroiders’ Guild. The work was designed and made by the artist in her studio in Kent with the help of one skilled assistant. It was made in sections, assembled in situ in Western Bank Library and unveiled by Sir Hugh Casson, CH KCVO PPRA RDI, on 11th November 1988.

The John Bramwell Taylor Collection

The John Bramwell Taylor Collection is a fascinating collection of peculiar and extraordinary Victorian entertainment and exhibition culture, which reflects the taste and socio-cultural interests of the time. The collection showcases a wide range of shows and displays from new technologies and inventions to artwork and optical illusion, in the most popular locations in London including Leicester Square, The Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly and Bond Street.

Find out more

Small Press Poetry Collection

This collection contains material unavailable in any other British institution. It focuses on British and American poetry and art of the avant-garde from the late 1950s onwards, including a complete collection of William Copley’s S.M.S. portfolios.

Unique to the United Kingdom, the University of Sheffield Library holds complete collections of two significant Canadian small presses: Weed/Flower Press, founded and run by the prize-winning poet Nelson Ball; and Seripress, founded and run by the painter and poet (and wife of Nelson Ball), Barbara Caruso

Find out more

The Cyril Critchlow Collection

This collection contains unique and rare material related to the Sanger and Ohmy Circus families. Among the most fascinating items are documents related to the First World War, including Lily Ohmy’s emergency passport issued by the American embassy in Berlin to enable the liberation of Lily from Ruhleben prisoner camp.

Find out more

Hobson Medals

The Hobson medals are a selection of distinguished medals presented to the University which belonged to two sons of Sir Albert Hobson who both fought and died in the First World War.

The medals are dated between 1914 and 1919 which include: the Bronze Star – a service medal showing the year of the award: Silver roundel – a war medal depicting St George and the dragon: Gold roundel – a Victory Medal with the figure of Victory on the obverse. The DSO (Distinguished Service Award) was awarded to Major Alan Hobson shortly before he was killed. Both have a bronze plaque, known as a death plaque, which were issued to the families of all those killed in action.

[Read more]

Sir Alan Hobson was a generous benefactor to the University; he served as a member of the University Council from 1905 to 1923, as Treasurer from 1910 to 1916 and as Pro-Chancellor from 1916 to 1923. He was also a Master Cutler in 1902 and Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1911. There is a portrait of Sir Alan Hobson in the Heritage Collection dated 1902 when he was Master Cutler.  Sir Alan bequeathed a large sum of money to build the sports pavilion at Norton in memory of his sons. The medals and plaques were originally displayed in the pavilion but were then moved to Firth Court next to the First World War Memorial.

 Major Alan Faber Hobson, 2nd/1st (West Riding) Field Company, Royal Engineers, twice mentioned in despatches, awarded DSO 1916, killed in action 28th August 1916 aged 23. Buried in Bouzincourt Cemetery, the Somme.

 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Faber Hobson, 4th Battalion, Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment. Died of wounds 12th July 1915 aged 19. Buried in Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdingbe, West Flanders.

Private Presses Collection

The Private Presses Collection includes the largest single collections of their kind in the north of England of key British independent fine presses owned and operated by book artists such as Ron King (Circle Press); Ian Tyson (Tetrad Press,; Tom Phillips (Talfourd Press); and Ken Campbell.

It also includes important works by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press; Golden Cockerell Press; the Nonesuch Press; the Chiswick Press; Petersburg Press; Editions Electo; and many others.

Find out more

Hines, Lipman, Rosenthal

A growing area of research here at Sheffield is twentieth-century British drama. Included here are the Hines Papers, the Maureen Lipman Papers, and the Jack Rosenthal Drama Scripts Collection.

Barry Hines was born in the mining village of Hoyland Common (located between Sheffield and Barnsley).Hines was Yorkshire Arts Fellow in Creative Writing here at the University in the 1970s and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2010. His papers include the manuscripts of his major works including A Kestrel for a Knave, the basis for the film Kes, directed by Ken Loach.

Jack Rosenthal’s collection comprises typescripts covering forty years of writing drama for television.