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The University of Southampton

Unique collections of British historical papers opened up to new audiences in Hampshire

Published: 20 March 2002

One of the country's most important collections of material relating to British history is to be made more accessible to people in Hampshire as part of a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A grant of £951,000 has been awarded to the University of Southampton to enable it to create more room for and better access to its internationally important collections of historical documents and records, held in the Hartley Library.

An extension to the Hartley Library on the University's Highfield Campus will provide new space for exhibitions, which will allow original documents to be displayed for the first time, double the size of the public reading room, and create storage space for future acquisitions. This will allow more people, particularly from the local area, to visit to explore the archives and use them for research.

The archives include:
· The papers of Lord Mountbatten, governor-general of India, including material relating to the transfer of power in India in the 1940s.
· The principal collections of two British prime ministers, the first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who lived at Stratfield Saye, near Basingstoke, and the third Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), who lived at Broadlands near Romsey.
· Related papers of early nineteenth-century politicians such as the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and prime minister Viscount Melbourne.
· Internationally important collections relating to the history of Jewish communities throughout the UK, the history of Palestine, Jewish relations with other peoples, and the Holocaust. These include the Parkes Collection, which has made the University of Southampton one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe.
· The Cope Collection on the history of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham, said: "We are delighted that the Lottery Heritage Fund has recognized the importance of the University's Special Collections in this way. The award will enable us to have regular exhibitions of some of the most interesting documents and materials in our collections, and this is particularly significant for the people of Southampton and the region, who will have better access to the University's holdings of historical material."

Tessa Hilder, the Heritage Lottery Fund's Regional Manager for South East England, said: "We are delighted that we can help to make these fantastic archives available to a wider audience so that everyone can explore and study them for generations to come. They provide fascinating and important insights into the diversity of our cultural life and history."

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 21,000 students and over 4,900 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.

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