University of Kent Special Collections and Archives

The Templeman Library at Kent looks after over 150 archival collections, many of which are of local, national and international interest.

The University of Kent provides many resources for students to aid them in their studies. Looking after over 150 collections, the Library’s Special Collections and Archives house collections spanning a large range of subject areas within Arts and Humanities, including pieces on:

  • Popular and comic performance from the Victorian era to the present, including published and archival material from pantomime, melodrama, variety, stand-up comedy.
  • Cartoon artwork and publications, particularly cartoons using satire to make political or social comment.
  • The history of the University of Kent and the local area.
  • Photographs, scrapbooks, engineer records, and published books relating to wind and watermills.
  • Collections of 20th century prose and poetry first editions.

The library’s blog is regularly updated with in-depth pieces and news. They work extensively with academics to deliver sessions using SC&A material; liaise with tutors to design sessions that cover specific topics or develop skills, and they’re in regular contact with Schools to embed heritage and archive skills into curricula more widely.

School of Arts collections


  • British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, developed in collaboration with Kent academic Dr Oliver Double, is a fantastic resource for drama students wishing to explore the history of stand-up comedy from the 1980s to the present day. There are over 30 artists represented in the archive and it’s very much still growing. Material ranges from unique audio-visual recordings to props, comedy scripts, photographs and much more. There’s also a podcast which explores items from the archive in more depth.
    • Students can use the archive in a variety of ways including to develop their own sense of where stand-up comedy originated and as inspiration for their own performances.
    • Take a look at an example video of items in the archive.
  • Extensive Theatre collections span a huge range of popular performance from melodrama to pantomime and music hall. They’re particularly strong in Victorian and Edwardian material but go back earlier than that, and also cover the 20th century. Material includes playscripts (often with unique annotations), scrapbooks, costume designs, playbills (early theatre adverts), marketing material and much more. The Melville family archive is particularly interesting for Arts students as the Melvilles owned and ran two theatres in London, so it’s possible for students to see how theatres were managed historically. The Library team have co-taught with academics on courses that run across entire terms to develop archive and research skills over longer periods – particularly important in the Arts which often have a more practical focus.
  • The British Cartoon Archive has a huge amount of cartoons from the 19th and 20th centuries including artwork from the magazine Punch, which often covered many aspects of Arts in society. Of particular interest is the work of W.K. Haselden, an early 20th century cartoonist who, alongside his famous wartime work, also drew women and costumes extensively, particularly Edwardian theatre performers.