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.

English and Comparative Literature collections


  • The Pre-1700s collection contains several hundred books and primarily focuses on literature and sermons. The collection holds a second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles, used by Shakespeare and Marlowe to write their history plays, and a first edition of the works of Ben Jonson in this collection.
  • Theatre collections.
  • An extensive collection of books by the scholar John Crow, who focused on Renaissance literature and ballad and song.
  • The Artists’ Books collection.
  • The British Cartoon Archive library (several thousand books on cartooning) also contains graphic novels which are used by English students to explore adaptations and different media.
  • One of the most internationally popular collections is that of a writer, Catherine Crowe. Crowe was a gothic writer, and the library holds in-depth research into her life, written by Geoffrey Larken.
  • The Charles Dickens collections.
  • The Modern First (poetry and prose) collections collect first editions of work from the 20th and 21st century, including the Valerie Eliot collection. The Information Services Team work extensively with Creative Writing tutors who often teach radical poetry which is represented well in this collection.

Talking about the Modern First (poetry and prose) collection, Joanna Baines, Senior Library Assistant tells us: “A great example of students using this collection is through the final year ‘Book Project’ module, where students have to write and self-publish a book. They visit us for a single three hour seminar: the first hour focuses on the history of print with items to explore from the early modern period to the present day, the second hour uses texts from the Modern Firsts collection to inspire discussion about contemporary authors’ use of the history of print in their own work (and explore format), the third hour uses the Artists’ Books to push students’ thinking about communication and what a book actually is. We’ve had a lot of students find that their final work has been impacted by these sessions and it uses all of our print material in very innovative ways.”

Kent also works very closely with Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library to offer teaching that spans our respective collections.