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Special Collections


The Foyle Special Collections Library regularly participates in external projects; and we often undertake these with our colleagues in Archives Services.

Details of Special Collections projects can be found below. A link to projects undertaken by colleagues in Archives is available here.

Current and recent projects

Past projects

Canning House visiting fellow 2019

Visiting fellow from Canning House, 2019We were delighted to welcome to King's Dr Adriana Massidda, the first beneficiary of a new library visiting fellowship scheme, jointly offered by King’s and Canning House.

Adriana came to us from Centro de estudios Urbanos y Regionales, Buenos Aires and her research is concerned with the housing of the urban poor, with particular reference to Argentina and Peru. She was based within the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

The fellowship supports post-doctoral research on Latin American studies in London for up to three months, with the expectation that the fellow will make good use of the library collection of Canning House, which is housed both in the Foyle Special Collections Library and in the wider collections at the Maughan Library. This collection was transferred to King’s in 2012 and has been described by historian Hugh Thomas as 'one of the jewels of Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom'.

During the fellowship, Adriana delivered two seminars (one at King’s and one at Canning House) and established contact with the academic community at King’s and with Canning House members and guests. She will also organise a roundtable event for Canning House and produce a peer-reviewed article from the research.

More information on Canning House and the fellowships

Canning House is the UK’s leading forum for informed comment, contacts and debate on Latin American politics, economy and business. It is a non-governmental body which aims to foster understanding, cultural interaction and commerce between the UK and the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds.

For more information about this scheme, please see here: Canning House and King's College London visiting fellowships.

MA History internship, 2019

asc2019internThis year's MA History intern from the Department of History at King's was Ed Thompson, who we very much enjoyed hosting in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

The focus of Ed's internship was on the photographic representation of the British Empire, as reflected in the historical library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Ed surveyed this collection for original photographs depicting life in the British Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The online exhibition, which Ed curated from his research and which includes reproductions of the photographic material he has discovered is available below:

Representing the unfamiliar: Photography in the British Empire 1866-1938

Past projects

MA History internship, 2018

We were delighted to host Charlotte Chambers as our 2018 MA History intern. The internship ran from January to April 2018 and involved 100 hours of primary research.

Charlotte is an MA student in the Department of History at King’s. For her internship she created entries for our participation in the Material Evidence in Incunabula project, run by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), of which King’s is a member.

2018 MA History intern in the Weston Room at the Maughan LibraryCharlotte visited the British Library for training in the MEI database; contributed to our current exhibition in the Weston Room at the Maughan Library and created an online exhibition, showcasing some of the distinctive and interesting provenances she discovered while undertaking work on our incunabula (books printed before 1501) holdings. This exhibition features on our online exhibition webpages.

A blog Charlotte wrote about her internship is available here.

MA History internship, 2017

James Hatherill, MA History intern

In early 2017, James Hatherill undertook an internship in the Foyle Special Collections Library as part of his MA in Modern History at King's course.

The research project designed for him involved:

  • Transcribing a 19th century manuscript report by William Young (1749-1815), Governor of Tobago and MP. The report was a plea to the British government to bring stability and prosperity to the island of Tobago and consolidate British possession of the island. A link to the catalogue record for the item James worked on is available here: An essay on the commercial and political importance of ye island of Tabago, 1810
  • Assisting in the digitisation of the item for display in an online exhibition; and assisting with the online curatorial process; researching the context of the report by using the holdings of the Foyle Special Collections Library, (including the historical library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office); and undertaking a trip to the National Archives to discover any evidence of an official response to the report
  • Writing an introductory essay and a blog post on the work

The internship ran from January to April 2017 and involved 100 hours of primary research. 

For a link to James's blog post about his internship, please see here.

Map of Tobago. From Sir William Young, An essay on the commercial and political importance of ye island of Tabago, 1810The online exhibition which represents James's work is available through clicking on the link below:

Online exhibition on Sir William Young's Essay on Tobago 



Artist in residence, Bisan Abu-Eisheh

In early 2017, the Foyle Special Collections Library and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives were delighted to host Bisan Abu-Eisheh as artist-in-residence. Bisan's residency was supported by Culture + Conflict, a not-for-profit agency focussing on art produced in, or in response to, conflict and post-conflict situations across the world.

ASCbisanforwebBorn in Jerusalem in 1985, Bisan Abu-Eisheh is a Palestinian artist living and working between Jerusalem and Glasgow. He often draws on information gathered through conversations and oral testimonies, archives and collected objects as a tool to investigate history and politics.

His aesthetic is loaded with elements, facts and topics which lead the viewer into a world that focuses on issues including national identity, mobility, migration and injustice.

The residency aims to bring new insights and perspectives to aspects of the material in the archive, especially in relation to the history of war, conflict and colonialism. 

Please consult Paper’s Archaeology – Bisan’s blog for updates as his residency progresses.

We were also pleased to hold an evening event entitled 'Whose identity? Whose history? to mark Bisan Abu-Eisheh’s artistic residency. On Thursday 2 March he was joined in the Maughan Library’s Weston Room by artist Mariam Ghani for a programme of talks and discussion, chaired by Pablo de Orellana (Department of War Studies).

Victorians decoded exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery

A number of items from Special Collections and Archives were recently on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery as part of the exhibition, Victorians decoded: art and telegraphy.

The exhibition ran from September 2016 to January 2017 and marked the 150th anniversary of the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable, and explored the impact of telegraphy on the artistic imagination and on the wider social consciousness. It included Victorian paintings, scientific apparatus, books, pamphlets and the personal notes and papers of telegraph pioneer Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-75), who was professor of experimental philosophy at King’s.

The exhibition formed part of Scrambled messages, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, led by King’s and the Courtauld Institute of Art, in which Special Collections and Archives have also been involved.

Undergraduate fellowship in Archives and Special Collections

Veera Mo, who completed her BA in International Relations at King's in 2016, undertook an undergraduate fellowship in Archives and Special Collections, researching material related to South Asia in preparation for a new Research Guide.

Frontispiece of a Ceylon tea house. From: Official handbook and catalogue of the Ceylon Court, 1886 [FCO Historical Collection T696.G1 COL]The new printed and illustrated guide will cover Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet.

It will span the early modern and modern periods and will cover political, military and social history, topography, natural history and culture. 

Veera has written an article related to her research into the former British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, which is available here.

Internship project 2015

Sara Belingheri, a member of Library Services staff completed an internship project in the Foyle Special Collections Library as part of her postgraduate studies in Cultural Heritage at the University of Parma.

Giovanni da Vigo. Practica in chirurgica, 1514For the internship she drew up a proposal for a project to preserve or promote an aspect of Italian cultural heritage at the host institution, and Sara chose to investigate and implement the creation of a virtual exhibition of early Italian printed books from the collections of the Foyle Special Collections Library on the theme of early globalisation.

Her work is represented by A3 posters on display stands in the Maughan Library and digital images of some of the books she has consulted and links to the promotional material she has produced are featured below.

The project has not only benefitted Sara but has also served as a showcase for the Foyle Special Collections Library holdings.

Links to a Bibliography and the posters Sara created for the project are available here:

Poster featuring Practica in chirurgia, 1514

Poster featuring Ptolemy and Carletti

Poster featuring Genoa Psalter, 1516


Opening showing South America. From: Ptolemy. Geografia, 1548Throughout her internship Sara familiarised herself with the work and mission of a Special Collections Library, acquainted herself with issues related to the conservation of early printed books and best practice; and gained an understanding of the promotional techniques used by a university to showcase its Special Collections.


Staff in the Foyle Special Collections Library and colleagues in Library Services assisted Sara by giving her access to King’s Image Library and with the branding of the material Sara  produced.

Sara Belingheri consulting a book in the Foyle Special Collections Reading RoomTo find out more about the project, please email

or alternatively, please contact staff with any questions about our holdings.

All the books Sara consulted are available for readers to access in the locations specified in the posters and in the Bibliography.

UK Medical Heritage Library project

King’s College London was one of ten partners in a major project to digitise 19th and early 20th century medical books, which was jointly funded by Jisc and the Wellcome Trust.

Approximately 15 million pages of books and pamphlets from our collections and those of other UK partner institutions have been digitised and the resulting resources are now freely available on multiple platforms.

Packing the first crate of the UK Medical Heritage Library digitisation projectWe have completed our involvement in the project and our Online resources page gives information on how to access these resources through the King's Library catalogue and other platforms.

The items that have been digitised from King's are all from the Foyle Special Collections Library and reflect the rich tradition of medical teaching and research across the current King’s Health Partners.

Scrambled messages

Archives & Special Collections have completed their participation in the AHRC funded project  ‘Scrambled Messages’. This project, jointly led by King’s, the Courtauld and UCL explored the Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900. Archives & Special Collections enhanced the catalogues of the Charles Wheatstone Archive and Library for interpretation by the project’s researchers.

Psalterium 1513

First leaf of the Psalterium Aethiopicum showing full page woodcut in red of David playing the harp in a wooded landscape

The Psalterium Aethiopicum, or Psalterium David et Cantica aliqua was edited and published in Rome in 1513 by the German priest and scholar Johann Potken. It was the first book printed in the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge'ez and also the first Psalter to be printed in a language other than Latin, Greek or Hebrew. 

2013 marked the 500th anniversary of the book's production and the Foyle Special Collections Library participated in a project to digitise the Psalter, undertaken by Dr Ian Christie-Miller and funded under the patronage of the Ordre Souverain Militaire et Hospitalier de Saint Jean de Jérusalem.

First leaf of the Psalterium Aethiopicum, back lit to reveal paper structure and watermark

Dr Christie-Miller captured co-ordinated front-lit and back-lit images of our copy of the Psalter (Marsden Collection R8/1) which reveal the structure of the paper and its watermarks. The project resulted in the creation of a digital version of the book, now available to view online.


Top: Front-lit image of the first leaf (recto) of the Psalterium Aethiopicum showing full page woodcut of David playing the harp. 

Left: Back-lit image of the same leaf (recto).


Jane Chapman: artist in residence at the Foyle Special Collections Library

The Foyle Special Collections Library was delighted to host harpsichordist Jane Chapman as artist in residence from October 2011 to October 2012. Our copy of a remarkable 18th century collection of Indian music, William Hamilton Bird’s Oriental miscellany (Calcutta, 1789), was the starting point for her exploration of early musical encounters between the Indian sub-continent and the West. Jane Chapman’s residency at the Foyle Special Collections Library was supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

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