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Jesus College Libraries: Fellows' Library, manuscripts, and archives

The Fellows' Library is closed during lockdown.
The Fellows' Library at Jesus College is a fine 17th-century room which holds the College's 11,500 early printed books. The medieval and early modern manuscripts owned by the College are on deposit in the Bodleian Libraries. Official records of the College and associated personal papers are preserved in the Archives.

Fellows' Library

Approximately 80% of the books have been catalogued on SOLO, the library catalogue covering the majority of the library collections of the University of Oxford, and a short-title list of the remaining books is available below under the title 'Uncatalogued material'. The Bodleian Libraries have advice on searching for early printed books on SOLO. For English books printed before 1801, you may prefer to search the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). Our 46 incunables (books printed anywhere before 1501) are listed on the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) and Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI).

The Fellows' Library interiorTo make an appointment to consult a book from the Fellows' Library, please contact the Librarian well in advance of travelling to Oxford. Capacity for external readers is limited and so you may be redirected to the Bodleian unless the Jesus College copy has particular interest. Note that the Fellows' Library is reached by twenty stairs: we can offer alternative arrangements for consulting books on request. Eduroam Wi-Fi is available and photography is permitted.

The Wikipedia article on the College buildings summarises the history of the Fellows' Library. There is a useful overview of our special collections in Paul Morgan's Oxford libraries outside the Bodleian (2nd edition, 1980, pages 49–53) and a fuller account in C.J. Fordyce & T.M. Knox, ‘The Library of Jesus College, Oxford: with an appendix on the books bequeathed thereto by Lord Herbert of Cherbury’, Proceedings and papers of the Oxford Bibliographical Society, volume 5, part 2 (1937), partially digitised below.

There are open days for current members of College throughout the year. Old Members wishing to visit the Fellows' Library should contact the Development Office. The College is able to offer accommodation subject to availability.


T.E. Lawrence on Crusader castlesThe medieval and early modern manuscripts owned by Jesus College date back to the 11th century. They have been on deposit in the Bodleian Libraries since 1886 and thus appointments to consult manuscripts with numbers between 1 and 150 should be made at the Weston Library.

The most recent catalogue is the second volume of Coxe's Catalogus codicum MSS. qui in collegiis aulisque Oxoniensibus hodie adservantur (1852); entries for pre-1601 manuscripts are also available at Medieval.Bodleian. An annotated version of Coxe's catalogue is held in the Library Office. (MS 146 is catalogued in Ker's Medieval manuscripts in British libraries.) Modern manuscripts numbered 151 and above, including T.E. Lawrence's undergraduate thesis (MS 181), are held in the College Library and the Archives.

Welsh manuscripts

Twenty of Jesus College's Welsh manuscripts (on deposit in the Bodleian Libraries) were catalogued by J. Gwenogvryn Evans for the Historical Manuscripts Commission. MSS 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 28, 57, 61, 88, 90, 101, 111, 112, 119, and 137 to 141 are described in pages 1-90 of Report on manuscripts in the Welsh language. Volume II. Part I (London: H.M.S.O., 1902).

Facsimiles of fifteen of these manuscripts are available at Digital.Bodleian. Please see the copyright notice there for information on reproducing images from our special collections. Finally, MSS 20, 57, 111, and 119 have been edited for Welsh Prose 1300-1425.


Photographs of provenance evidence in the Fellows' Library, including bookplates and marginalia, are available on Flickr, with copyright retained by the College. Summaries of the characteristic markings of five seventeenth-century donors are presented below.

Photography of books and manuscripts

Researchers may take digital photographs of Jesus College manuscripts for the purposes of private research and study according to the Bodleian Libraries' regulations, provided that copyright and/or publication right in the images is assigned to the College. The same condition applies for photographs of early printed books in the Fellows' Library.

Permission to reproduce images from the College's manuscripts or printed books must be obtained from the College Librarian in advance of any publication, but is not normally withheld. We reserve the right to charge a reproduction fee. Please email with details of the image to be reproduced or complete the form below. Copyright in the reproduced image remains with Jesus College.

College history

There are two book-length histories of Jesus College:

  • E.G. Hardy, Jesus College (London: F.E. Robinson, 1899)
  • J.N.L. Baker, Jesus College, Oxford, 1571-1971 (Oxford: Jesus College, 1971)

Two shorter articles of value, including the summary in the Victoria County History:

  • J.N.L. Baker, 'Jesus College', pages 264-279 in H.E. Salter & M.D. Lobel (editors), A History of the County of Oxford, Volume 3: The University of Oxford (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1954)
  • Brigid Allen, 'The Early History of Jesus College, Oxford, 1571-1603' Oxoniensia LXIII (1998), pages 105-124.

The Jesus Authors collection in the Meyricke Library consists of books by and about Fellows, Old Members, and others associated with Jesus College. It is catalogued on SOLO and available in the Periodicals Room for current College members to borrow from, with the exception of books by and about T.E. Lawrence, which are confined to the Library. Donations are welcomed.


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Fellows' Library
Jesus College [map, directions]
Turl Street
United Kingdom


Telephone: (01865) 279704
(international: +44 1865 279704)

Owen McKnight (College Librarian)

Professor Dirk Van Hulle (Fellow Librarian)

Blog posts about the Fellows' Library

Blog posts about Jesus College manuscripts

More in Oxford

The official records of Jesus College and associated personal papers are preserved in the Archives.

Jesus College's entry in the National Archives directory

The oil paintings and sculptures in Jesus College have been photographed and digitised by Art UK.

Overviews of special collections in Oxford colleges and the Bodleian Libraries are available on LibGuides.

Jesus College is a member of the Oxford Conservation Consortium.

The College Librarian was interviewed for the Living Libraries podcast in 2019.