Special & Rare Collections

Special & Rare collection at the UTAS Library

The Special & Rare Collections manages and provides access to the cultural and historical records of the University as well as private papers and records from individuals; families; local businesses; community, charitable and cultural organisations; and The Royal Society of Tasmania Collection. It consists of special and rare books and early manuscripts; journals; maps; university records of a non-business nature; and private materials including diaries, letters, photographs, paintings and other collectable ephemera. Some of the material from our collections has been digitised and can be viewed on the Library Open Repository (ePrints)

Photograph of some books in the Rare Book Collection
The Rare Book Collection is housed in the restricted-access Rare Room. The Collection comprises more than 8500 books and journals from a range of sub-collections including Christ College, Dunbabin, Baikie, Quaker, Royal Society of Tasmania (more than 2000 rare books and serials), St John Fisher College, Franklin, Walker plus other donated or acquired rare materials. Most of the rare books have been catalogued however much of the Christ Collection rare book and manuscript collection remains uncatalogued.
Search the Rare Book Collections
  • UTAS Library Catalogue to locate Rare books and journals 
  • Manual indexes to the Christ College rare book collection are located in the Special & Rare Collections Reading Room
Access to the Rare Book Collections
Most rare materials are available for viewing and consultation in the Special & Rare Reading Room. Some materials may require access permission prior to viewing so we suggest you contact staff before visiting. 
The Royal Society of Tasmania Logo

The Royal Society of Tasmania (RST) Library is maintained by the UTAS Library. The Collection comprises a diverse range of 5000+ books and 650 journal titles (some held on open-access shelves and others in the restricted Rare Room), early maps and many early 19th century private family deposit collections. Its flagship journal, The RST Papers & Proceedings, is held in both paper and electronic formats. The RST Library also holds approximately 2000 rare and early manuscripts and books, including the oldest printed book (c1472) in Tasmania.

Search The RST Library Collection

Access to the The RST Collection
Most of The RST rare materials are available for viewing and consultation in the Special & Rare Reading Room. Some materials may require access permission prior to viewing so we suggest you contact staff before visiting.

Access to the Level 5 open-access part of The RST Collection is available in the Morris Miller Library, 9-5 Monday to Friday.  Loan conditions, fall under the  UTAS Library rules. Members of The Royal Society may borrow from the University Library as Non-UTAS Borrowers. No fee is charged for Members.

Loan Policy
Monograph (Book)not for loan
Serials (unbound)not for loan
Serials (bound)

3 day loan period -
The Royal Society members, University staff and postgraduate students only

The Royal Society of Tasmania website

Quaker Collection

The Quaker (ie. Society of Friends) Collection, estimated to be the finest collection of Quaker materials in the Southern Hemisphere, was transferred to the UTAS Library Special and Rare Collections in 1971. It consists of more than 2500 volumes plus a diverse collection of early Quaker family letters, photographs, diaries, Society of Friends minutes and other materials on religious and social matters by and of interest to Quakers.

Search the Quaker Collection 

Quaker Life in Tasmania - the first hundred years, by Michael Bennett, University of Tasmania Library, 2007 

 History of the Quaker Collection (by a former UTAS Special Collections Librarian)

Access to the Quaker Collection 

Most Quaker rare materials are available for viewing and consultation in the Reading Room. Some materials may require access permission prior to viewing so we suggest you contact staff before visiting. Access to the Level 5 open-access part of the Quaker Collection is available for "library use only" in the Morris Miller Library, 9-5 Monday to Friday.

Private Deposit Collection

The Private Deposit Collections include materials from private individuals, families, charities, organisations and local business records relating to the intellectual, cultural and commercial life of early Tasmania.

Collections include: Andrew Inglis Clark, Quaker families (Cotton, Walker, Backhouse), Dr George Fordyce Story, Archer, Boyes, Leake, Pink, Midwood, Baptist Union and many other special collections.

Search the Private Deposits

Access the Private Deposits Most Private Deposit materials are available for viewing and consultation in the Special & Rare Reading Room. Some Private Deposits, such as the Baptist Union records, require access permission prior to viewing so we suggest you contact staff before visiting.

University Collection 

The University records include: an extensive staff and student photograph collection; photographic slides, glass negatives and lantern slides;  UTAS Letters Patent; architectural drawings and campus photographs; newsletters and magazines; oral histories; calendars and other older records and ephemeral materials of non- business nature. 

Search the University Records Collections

Christ College Collection (a sub-collection within the University Records)


Many of the Rare Christ College books and manuscripts remain uncatalogued. Interested persons may like to view the exhibition From Manuscript to Print  or the Library Open Repository (ePrints) collection of images and email special.collections@utas.edu.au to organise a viewing time.

The UTAS photo collection (predominantly 1960-80s) remains uncatalogued. 

Access to the University Records Collections

Materials are open for viewing and consultation in the Special & Rare Reading Room.

Become a digital volunteer

Become a digital volunteer with the UTAS Library Special and Rare Collections. UTAS Library is dedicated to making its digital collections more visible and accessible online so that everyone can use and share them, now and in the future.
Help us by transcribing unique personal stories from diaries, letters and other historical documents. Transcribing old hand-writing into a digital copy makes it easier to find, share and work with. You can volunteer from home using your own computer. We will provide training and full support.
To find out more about becoming part of our volunteer community please contact: Juliet.beale@utas.edu.au


Jane Franklin help decipher Lady Jane Franklin’s diary excerpts

Finding aids are the key to locating archival and other primary source materials held in the University of Tasmania Special & Rare Collections. The finding aid to an individual collection includes a detailed description of the collection, explains how it is organized, and outlines its contents, listing locations and reference numbers within a collection where relevant materials may be found.

Use these aids to explore descriptions of our unique holdings which include, archival collections, images, ephemera, and much more one-of-a-kind material.

The collections described in these finding aids are non-circulating, and can only be used in the University Special & Rare Reading Room. Please note the reference number so we are able to retrieve the item for you to view during our opening hours

Special & Rare Presentation

The Special and Rare Collections is located on Level 5 of the Morris Miller Library on the Sandy Bay Campus

See location in Google maps

Phone number +61 3 6226 2222 or
+61 3 6226 7883
Email Special.Collections@utas.edu.au
Postal address Private Bag 25 Hobart 7001
Opening hours  
Monday - Wednesday 9.30am - 4.00pm    
* (closed for lunch - 12.30pm  - 1.30pm)
Thursday & Friday  Closed
Public Holidays  Closed
Image of the cover of Quaker Life in Tasmania by Michael Bennett

Quaker life in Tasmania: the first hundred years by Michael Bennett

 ISBN I 86295 367 8

Quaker life in Tasmania: the first hundred years is an engagingly written and beautifully illustrated history of the Friends in Tasmania. From 1832, with the arrival of the first missionaries in Hobart and the establishment of the first Meeting, the Quakers have made a disproportionate contribution to Tasmanian life and welfare. Their witness against the brutal treatment of Aborigines and convicts, and their enterprise and philanthropy, played a considerable role in Tasmania's evolution from a vice-ridden penal settlement to a self-reliant and humane society. This is the fascinating story of remarkable women and men whose values, commitment and service remain an inspiration and living force in contemporary Tasmania. The book has sixty-four pages, six in full colour with over100 pictures of items selected from the collections of the Religious Society of Friends' Meeting House, the Friends' School, the University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Collections, and private owners. An exhibition featuring many of these items was held at the University Library. Michael Bennett is Professor of History-; University of Tasmania, and the author of four books and many articles on British and Australian history.

Order your copy

$25 +  postage

Trade enquiries welcome

Image of the cover of From Manuscript to Print by Rodney Thomson

From manuscript to print by Rodney Thomson

ISBN 978 1 86295 483 0

From manuscript to print provides a description of all western manuscripts and early printed books to 1600 held in the University of Tasmania Library, the State Library of Tasmania and St. David's Cathedral, Hobart. It is also the catalogue of an exhibition displaying many of these items held at the University Library, December 2008- January 2009.

The book has one hundred and twenty eight pages, in full colour, with over 270 illustrations. Rodney Thomson is Professor of Medieval History in the School of History & Classics, University of Tasmania. He is the author of many books and papers on medieval books and learning, including descriptive catalogues of the manuscripts at Lincoln, Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals, and Merton College Oxford.

Order your copy

$45 +  postage

Trade enquiries welcome