University Archive & Special Collections Centre: Special Collections

Special Collections

Our Special Collections include the personal archives of individuals which make them unique and of significant cultural interest and value. 

This archive is a valuable resource to support learning, teaching and research. We can assist with using and handling archives for projects and enquiries relating to the history of the university.

We welcome students, academics and external researchers to use our collections for research and general use.


book, patterns of urban life

The papers and books of Leslie Ginsburg, founding Head of the Birmingham School of Planning in 1957, were donated to the Birmingham School of the Built Environment by his widow so that the collection could be made available to researchers.

The collection consists of over 2,000 items, covering Ginsburg’s books, working papers, cuttings, maps, photographs, pamphlets and odd issues of journals reflecting his professional interests and involvement in planning issues, developments and education between the 1940s and the 1990s.

It is a unique collection and an excellent source of primary and more transient secondary information pertaining to the development of planning regulation in the UK and globally, with particularly significant resources relating to the post-war redevelopment of Birmingham (of great interest to current BSBE research) and the redevelopment of London in the 1960s and 1970s (including work on Covent Garden, Camden and Paternoster Square) which saw the rise of a public backlash to the loss of historic landmark buildings such as the Euston Arch and the subsequent birth of the Victorian Society and the building conservation movement. There is also a considerable amount of information relating to urban planning and development in the newly formed state of Israel in the 1940s.

Please see link below for the collections list.


John Lane

The School of English holds a collection of photocopies forming a significant section of the archive of the publisher John Lane, which published the work of many literary figures in the late Victorian period and the early decades of the twentieth century under the imprint of Bodley Head.

Material in the Archive includes work by W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, E. Nesbit, Vita Sackville-West, and D.H. Lawrence.

In addition to letters and other correspondence from many notable authors, the archive includes:

  • Photocopies of the letters etc contained in 'The Yellow Book' box
  • Letters relating to The Love of an Unknown Soldier, a work published anonymously by Coningsby Dawson
  • Photocopies of the following manuscripts: G.K.Chesterton's Orthodoxy; Frederick Greenwood's Imagination in Dreams; and Stephen Phillip's Armageddon.
  • A box of Lane business material – sporadic accounts etc. Plus one large original ledger.

In 2009, the Archive was supplemented by a further donation of associated volumes published by Lane.

A full list of contents is available, compiled by the Archive's previous curator Michael Rhodes.

The Archive is available for consultation and research, offering an invaluable collection of manuscript material, autographed letters, readers’ reports, catalogues, and publisher’s correspondence.

Material is of particular value for researchers in:

  • British publishing history
  • Late Victorian and Edwardian literature
  • Literary modernism

The Archive is housed in the Birmingham City University Records Centre in the Curzon Building, Room C003 city centre campus

Material Access

To view material, please make an appointment by emailing 

The originals of the archive are in the possession of the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas and no copying of the material is permitted. To obtain copies or publish excerpts, researchers must seek permission from the Librarian of the Ransom Center.



Dorothy Heathcote

Dorothy Heathcote was a teacher who used drama to promote learning and education. In the 1970s and 1980s whilst lecturing at Newcastle University she developed the "mantle of the expert" technique to support the use of drama across the curriculum.  She became an internationally renowned authority on drama as education and worked in schools, crime institutions and hospitals. 

We hold a video collection of her work.


Royal College of Organists Curzon Loan Collection


The university holds part of the RCO Library's collection of sheet music and books. You can find out more by using the BCU Library Search.

The collection is housed in Curzon Library at our city centre campus



Alumni Association Photo Archive

Photographs from Alumni Association events and reunions c.1911, 1972 - present

Go to the Photo Archive.

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