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Special Collections - archives and rare books: An Introduction

An introduction Special Collections

About Special Collections

DMU Special Collections is part of Library and Learning Services based in the Kimberlin Library. We hold varied material including archives, rare books, artwork and artefacts.

Prospectus from 1921 contrasted with modern view of the same building

The main archive collection relates to the history of DMU, tracing  the development and activities of the institution from its founding in 1870 as the Leicester School of Art, its years as Leicester Polytechnic, and its current status as De Montfort University.

We also have holdings relating to the history of fashion, textiles, photography, sports, performing arts and Leicester itself.

Catalogues for the collection can be found on the Archives Hub, with more added all the time. See

Rare books are catalogued as part of the main DMU Library catalogue, see 

Detail of banner produced for the 2009 Special Olympics

In addition to caring for our collections we assist researchers, organise outreach activities such as talks, tours and displays, contribute to records management and research data management strategies across the university, collaborate with heritage partners across Leicester and the East Midlands, and run a successful student volunteering programme.

Visiting the Archive

DMU Special Collections is situated in room 00.21, which is on the lower ground floor of the Kimberlin Library (near the journals).

Our opening hours are 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. Staff and students are welcome to pop in within these hours. If you would like to visit on a Monday, please contact us for an appointment.

If you have any questions please contact us on or call 0116 366 4200.

Please look at the Special Collections blog for more information about our activities and holdings.

Or follow us on Twitter!

Using the Archive in your work

Here are some examples of how students have used DMU Special Collections in their work:

  • Case study on a set of Victorian photographs

  • Inspiration from a collection of 1920s fashion illustrations

  • Using prospectuses and committee minutes for a study of the history of graphic design teaching

  • Studying postcards of historic Leicester for a history project

  • Copying maps and plans to inspire patterns on textiles

For more case studies see the LibGuide on 'Using Archives'.


Any student wishing to gain experience of working with archives is welcome to discuss a placement with the Archivist.