Business archives

From the local to the global, the Special Collections provide a wealth of material relating to businesses and other organisations. Many are part of the Archive of British Publishing and Printing, which includes wider records of the book trade including the archives of retailers Woolworths and WH Smith. These may be accessed alongside business records in the archive of the Museum of English Rural Life including those of agricultural engineering.

Other notable business archives often have a local connection, a prominent example being the archive of biscuit makers Huntley and Palmers and Peek Frean. The Smith Estate papers reflect the landholdings built up using the profits from the WH Smith business, while the DEGW archive documents the work of a leading architectural consultancy.

Family archives

There are a number of archives relating to prominent British families, especially those of politicians. Political papers are a strength and include the archives of the Astor family (Nancy Astor and Waldorf Astor) and of the Victorian politician William Henry Smith and his family.

Records of the University of Reading and its staff

As well as the University’s own records, we hold collections relating to associated institutions, plus ephemera and objects that tell of academic and student life. Papers of academics include the archives of Sir Frank and Lady Doris Stenton, James and Elizabeth Knowlson, Edith Morley, Francis Cole, Richard Rado and the economist Alan Rugman.

More information

See our Collections A-Z pages for descriptions of each of our archive collections.

Many, but not all of our collections are catalogued and searchable via the online catalogue. Please contact us if you need more information.

You can access these collections via the reading room.

We welcome use of our collections in teaching sessions.