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Established in 1855, the Cambridgeshire Collection, based at Cambridge Central Library, is the first place you should visit if you are interested in the history and people of the former county of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.

Search the Cambridgeshire Collection online
in our library catalogue

Available at the Cambridgeshire Collection

Books and pamphlets

This collection contains over 80,000 items including:

  • Over 60,000 books and pamphlets, including county, city and village histories
  • Street directories for Cambridge 1866-1975 listing streets, occupants and also trades (up to 1939)
  • County directories 1790s-1937 include general village history, tradesmen, officials and important residents
  • Dissertations, theses and other unpublished material
  • Archaeological reports
  • Victoria County History for Cambridgeshire, vols 1 – 10
  • Playbills and theatre programmes dating from 1791
  • Contemporary material including planning documents
  • Historic registers of electors and poll books from the early 18th century onwards
Image of newspaper record

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal (1776)

Image of three theatre handbills for plays

Handbills from Stourbridge Theatre (1791)


The collection includes over 40 newspaper titles dating from 1762 on microfilm and in original print editions. Our search room has several microfilm reader printers, including a digital machine.

List of Cambridgeshire newpapers held at Cambridgeshire Collection.

1762 to present

Size: 1.49 MB File format: pdf

We also store newspaper cuttings on over 1500 subjects from the local press for the last 50 years.

Maps and plans

The Cambridgeshire Collection holds a comprehensive set of printed single sheet maps of Cambridgeshire from 1620 to the present, as well as street plans of towns and villages. We also have printed single sheet maps  and street plans of Cambridge City dating from 1574. Before the 1830s, accuracy and detail of the maps is generally not very good so practical use of the early maps is rather limited. Original manuscript maps may be found at Cambridgeshire Archives.

Ordnance Survey

Our holdings include Ordnance Survey maps of various scales dating from 1886 including:

  • 1:50,000 scale to date
  • 1:25,000 (2 1/2) c.1950 ed
  • 1:10,000 (6") 1902, 1927, 1951 and 1980
  • 1:2,500 (25") 1902, 1927, 1951 and 1970
  • 1:1,250 (50") 1967 (only produced for Cambridge City)
  • 1:500 (46ft) 1887 (only produced for Cambridge City)

Maps for sale at Cambridgeshire Collection

A number of printed copies of full colour historical maps of Cambridge, Huntingdon and wider Cambridgeshire are available to buy from our collection at Central Library, Cambridge. Click the link below for details. To view or purchase, please call in or contact us at [email protected].

Cambridgeshire maps for saleApproximate sizePrice
Jansson – Comitatis Cantbrigiensis (1646) A3 £2
Blaeu – Regiones Inundatae (1648) A3 £2
Blome’s Map of Cambridgeshire (1671) A4 £1
Moore’s Great Level of The Fens  (1720) A3 £2
Simpson’s Map of Cambridgeshire  (1746) A4 £1
Bowen’s Cambridgeshire  (1751) A2 £5
Ellis’s Modern Map of Cambridgeshire (1768) A4 £1
Moule’s Map of Cambridgeshire (1863) A4 £1
Huntingdonshire maps for sale
Blaeu’s Huntingdonshire (1645) A3 £2
John Speed’s Huntingdonshire (1662) A3 £2
Blome’s map of Huntingdonshire (1673) A4 £2
Bowen’s Huntingdonshire (1760) A2 £5

Photographs and illustrations

The Cambridgeshire Collection holds over 80,000 separately indexed items dating from the 1680s onwards, including images of places, people and events across the whole county. 

The Collection also holds thousands of photo negatives taken at the Post Office Terrace Studios in Cambridge between the 1880s and 1980s. These are listed but not individually catalogued. Some of these are listed on the Fading Images website, which includes much useful information about Cambridgeshire photographers.

Special photography collections also include:

Image of painting of Magdalene College, Cambridge

Painting of Magdalene College, Cambridge (1905)

  • US Airmen in Cambridgeshire photographed during WW2. 589 images now available online. To browse the collection, search for  ‘America in Cambridge’ on the online Cambridgeshire Archives catalogue
  • The Cambridge Antiquarian Society ‘Photographic Record’ of around 70,000 photos mainly of Cambridgeshire villages in the 1920s and 1930s
  • The Anthony Day Collection of photographs of Wicken and the surrounding area

All illustrations we hold are listed in the libraries online catalogue.

Copies of our photographs may be ordered for private use and research. Images cannot be reproduced or published in any form without our consent. Payment is required in advance.

Fees for production in the media and publication are available upon request.
Photograph sizePrice
6 x 4 inches £5
7 x 5 inches £6
8 x 6 inches £7
10 x 8 inches £8
12 x 8 inches £10
Scans £5 per image

Visiting the Cambridgeshire Collection

Opening hours

Reading room is staffed
Monday 9:30am to 5pm
Tuesday 9:30am to 5pm
Wednesday 9:30am to 5pm
Thursday 9:30am to 5pm
Friday 9:30am to 5pm
2nd Saturday each month 10am to 5pm
Sunday Closed

Group visits to the Collection

'Behind the scenes' visits to the Collection can be arranged for groups on request. This includes evening visits (outside of normal opening hours) when groups will have exclusive use of the searchroom and material in the Collection. For group visits there is a charge of £60 including VAT. Contact us at [email protected] to find out more.

Talks about the Collection

External talks can be given to groups and societies about the Collection. If you would like to book a talk, there is a charge of £75 including VAT. Contact us at [email protected] to find out more.


We also run regular events relating to the collection including local author talks and behind the scenes tours. To view information on upcoming events, please see our Eventbrite webpage.  

Contact us

The Cambridgeshire Collection

Cambridge Central Library 
7 Lion Yard 
CB2 3QD 

[email protected]

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