Senate House Library (SHL) is the central library of the University of London, with collections covering the arts, humanities and social sciences. Its research and special collections contain a significant amount of Romance language material, and are supplemented by subscriptions to periodicals and electronic databases.

Research Collections

Uzanne S (1)
Octave Uzanne, 'L’Ombrelle, le gant, le manchon' (1883)

Romance language material can be found primarily in the Western European Languages research collection. These holdings offer excellent coverage of the major Romance languages and literatures, with the Francophone and Hispanic worlds particularly well represented. There are good holdings of 20th-century Catalan material, as well as smaller collections in Galician, Provençal and Romanian.

The Latin American Studies collection brings together the world-class holdings of the Institute of Latin American Studies (now CLACS) and material from Senate House Library, with Spanish and Portuguese holdings relating primarily to the cultures and literatures of Latin America and the Caribbean. The extensive Commonwealth Studies collection also contains some Romance language holdings (mainly in French) on the history and politics of Commonwealth member states. For more information on these collections, see Latin American Studies Library and Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library.                                                                                                                   

Other Senate House Library research collections contain smaller amounts of Romance language material:

  • The Philosophy collection has good holdings for French philosophy, particularly of the Enlightenment. There is also a small section dedicated to Latin American philosophy.
  • The Film and Media collection includes holdings on French, Spanish and Italian theatre and cinema (mainly in English). There is also criticism on a number of prominent directors of Romance language films.
  • The History collection offers strong coverage of European history, including books and periodicals in Romance languages.

Special Collections

Chronicle of the life of Edward
MS1: 'Chronicle of the Life of Edward the Black Prince' (1385)

Senate House Library’s Special Collections offer an outstanding range of primary source materials for Modern Languages researchers. They contain around 27,000 Romance language items, many of them rare or of significant historical value.

The Archives and Manuscripts collection contains over 200 items in Romance languages, as well as many Latin manuscripts produced in Europe during the Middle Ages. Material can be identified using the archives and manuscripts catalogue, or by consulting one of several published catalogues held in the special collections reading room. Holdings are extremely varied. Some noteworthy groups of Romance language material include:

  • 50 16th- and 17th-century Spanish manuscripts from the collection of Edward Frederick Phelips (1883-1928)
  • Around 25 books and letters relating to the economy of 18th-century France
  • The correspondence and papers of the Belgian playwright, poet and scholar Emile Cammaerts (1878-1953) (MS800)
  • The papers of the Catalan publisher Joan Gili (1907-1998) and the Dolphin Book Company (MS1154)
  • A collection of French revolutionary pamphlets (MS1148)
  • Significant collections of 20th-century Latin American political pamphlets, from the Institute of Latin American Studies library
Pedro de Medina
Pedro de Medina, 'Libro de grandezas y cosas memorables de España' (1548)

The Printed Special Collections contain a broad selection of printed items, ranging from books and periodicals to maps, pamphlets and ephemera. The general sequences are supplemented by 50 named collections of varying size. The majority of this material can be found and requested using the electronic catalogue (it is possible to limit searches to special collections items).

The collections contain some 13,000 items in French, with the 18th and 19th centuries particularly well represented. There are also excellent holdings in literature (both by French authors and in translation), early modern and modern theatre and a significant collection of official documents from the French Revolution and its aftermath. There are also good holdings in Spanish (around 6,500 items), with significant strengths in early modern printed material and the 20th-century social and political history of Latin America. The Italian holdings are less extensive, but include around 300 16th-century printed books. There are smaller collections of Portuguese, Catalan and Romanian material.

The Romance languages are particularly well represented in a number of the named collections:

  • The Durning-Lawrence Library includes around 300 printed literary works in Romance languages, of which approximately half date from the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • The Eliot-Phelips Collection contains around 3,500 books, pamphlets and maps produced in or relating to Spain between the 16th and 19th centuries.
  • The Elzevier Collection contains around 200 French titles printed in the 17th century by the Elzevier family and other Dutch printers.
  • The Foskett Uzanne Collection contains 116 volumes, mainly in French, relating to the work of the writer and bibliophile Octave Uzanne.
  • The Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature contains around 7,500 items in French. A particular strength is pamphlets, broadsides and proclamations from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The Harry Price Collection contains over 1,000 Romance language books on the subject of magic, dating from the 16th to the 21st century.
  • The Incunabula Collection contains 134 printed books and fragments from before 1501, the majority issued in Italy.
  • The Ron Heisler Collection includes around 400 Romance language books, pamphlets and newspaper titles relating to 20th-century labour and radical political movements. There is also a substantial quantity of material in English on the subject of the Spanish Civil War.

Smaller groups of material in Romance languages can be found in other named collections and throughout the general sequences.

Periodicals and Electronic Databases

Senate House Library provides access to a number of databases of specific value to researchers working with Romance language material. These include:

Cineteca virtual (digital archive of Chilean film)

Dictionnaire étymologique de l’ancien français (dictionary of Old French with critical bibliography)

Early European Books (major digital resource for early modern European printing)

Gallica (digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Handbook of Latin American Studies (annotated bibliography on Latin America – abstracts only)

HAPI (Hispanic American Periodicals Index)

Index Translationum (UNESCO database of book translations – abstracts only)

Latin American Anarchist and Labour Periodicals (collection of around 1,000 digitised periodicals)

LatinNews (constantly updated portfolio of Latin American news reports)

OAPEN library (library of open access scholarship)

PERSEE (digital library of French language journals)

PRISMA (Hispanic Studies journal library)

For further information, refer to the complete list of the library's database and eResouce subscriptions.