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Cope Collection, Special Collections, Hartley Library: Home

The Cope Collection includes books, pamphlets, journals, prints, photographs and postcards on all aspects of life in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


For general enquiries contact:

Jenny Ruthven

email: or tel. 023 80593335

Search Room Bookings:

email or tel. 023 80592721

Address: Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Special Collections Home Page

Printed Special Collections

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Related Collections

Archive Collections

  • MS 5 Manuscripts from the Cope Collection
  • MS 6 Hampshire and isle of Wight Manuscripts
  • MS 29 Editorial Notes for the Victoria History of the County of Hampshire
  • MS 61 Wellington Papers (Hampshire Lieutenancy papers)
  • MS 62 Broadlands Papers (Broadlands Estate papers)
  • MS 70 Papers of Frank O'Brien Adams
  • MS 79 Collections Relating to Industrial Archaeology

Cope Collection

Welcome to the guide to the Cope Collection and the Local History subject guide.

Covering all aspects of local life, the Cope Collection is a major resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  County histories and lavishly illustrated topographical works sit alongside well-used directories and examples of local ephemera. There are learned papers on geology, archaeology and natural history, and pamphlets and local acts which record the development of canals and railways.  

The Collection includes examples of locally printed items of which few copies survive and parts of the original collection can be counted as printed source material, such as the series of Southampton guides dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the contemporary directories and poll books. 

The large collection of illustrations provides an important visual record of the county. It includes over 2,000 eighteenth and nineteenth-century prints, as well as later acquisitions in the form of collections of photographs and postcards - the latest of these being a collection of over 3,000 postcards of Southampton, most of which date from the early years of the 20th century.

Material of all kinds continues to be acquired, ranging from ephemera to academic publications and those of local authorities, local societies and other organisations with an interest in the county, making Cope a source of not only the earliest publications on the county but also the latest.


12,700 books and pamphlets, 800 periodicals, 7,000 prints, maps, posters, photographs and drawings. Material ranges in date from the 17th century to the present day.

Ocean Quay, Southampton

Southampton post card

Collection History

Revd. Sir William Cope (1811-92), twelfth Baronet, of Bramshill, Hampshire served in the Rifle Brigade before purchasing his discharge in 1839 to become ordained as a priest.

He was a minor canon of Westminster Abbey from 1842 until 1852 and chaplain of Westminster Hospital from 1843 to 1851. 

In 1851 he succeeded to the baronetcy, and at Bramshill developed an interest in the local area, writing on matters of local interest, e.g. A Glossary of Hampshire Words and Phrases (1883) and establishing his 'Hampshire Collection'.

Cope died in 1892, having bequeathed the collection to the Hartley Institution, a forerunner of the University of Southampton.

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