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Library Guides

Special Collections

As well as rare books and journals, artists' books and zines, there are a number of other collections within Special Collections. Here are some of the highlights. Please contact Information Specialist Nicola Tricker at or if you would like to take a look to support your research.

Professor RA Burchell Penguin Collection

Penguin paperbacks had an important social and cultural impact in the middle of the last century incorporating interesting design and publishing innovations. The collection consists of around 1,600 paperbacks, including Penguins 1-1194 (1934-1952) and Pelicans A1-A335. These are now displayed in the Charles Seale-Hayne Library Special Collections room, in the large glass cases, and are accessible for students and staff to use for research.


About Professor RA Burchell

Professor Robert (Bob) Burchell, formerly Professor of American History at Manchester University and the first director of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, died aged 79 in 2020. Bob was a keen collector and an avid reader, and he combined these two interests by collecting Penguin paperbacks.  He operated on a 25-year rule, never buying a book less than 25 years old. He only collected first editions and he read every book in his collection.
Bob was brought up in Plymouth and was a student at Plymouth College. Bob’s partner bequeathed the collection to the University of Plymouth so that it could be housed in his home town and used by future generations. Find out more about him here.

Rt Rev Donald Snelgrove World War 2 Collection

The Rt Rev Donald Snelgrove World War 2 Collection comprises of the logbooks, workbooks, photographs and assorted other paraphenalia of Snelgroves time as a Sub-Lieutenant aboard the landing craft (LCT(L)5) during 1945- 46. The landing crafts were borrowed from America, and so journeyed from Scotland to Singapore, to be returned to American forces. The various books, photographs and documents within this collection record the journey. 


About Rt Rev Donald Snelgrove

Born in 1925, the Rt Rev Donald Snelgrove World War 2 Collection would have been compiled from 1945 when Donald was 20-21 years old. After the war he studied at Queen's College and Ridley Hall before entering the ecclesiastical profession. He worked as a curate, a vicar, an archdeacon and a rector during his career, across the North-East of England. He was consecrated as Bishop of Hull in 1981, until his retirement in 1994.

Archives of the University of Plymouth, South West Polytechnic & Plymouth College of Technology

This Archive collection has been compiled from the 1960s onwards, and consists of Board of Governors’ papers, Academic Board papers, annual reports, publications, photographs, and other ephemera from the 1960s to early 2000s, including prospectuses.