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Celebrating Libraries and Archives

Posted on 24 November 2021

Today marks the day of St Catherine, and in celebration of her status as Patron Saint of Libraries and Archives we want to take the opportunity to tell you more about the joint services the Libraries and Archives here at York offer.

Image from York Digital Library. Cowen, Painton Creative Commons

Saint Catherine of Alexandria was an early church martyr; her articulate debates with her captors led to her association with education. Over time her associations grew, and she became the patron saint of scholars, students, archivists and librarians.

Here at York, the Libraries and Archives are collaborated in many ways. The most obvious is that they share a building. The Borthwick Institute for Archives is located next to the Raymond Burton Library, a treasure trove of local collections and rare books. The Borthwick is open by prior appointment to all of York’s students and staff, as well as external visitors. It is a fantastic resource for all kinds of curiosities, whether it is scholarly research or personal and genealogical studies. The institute was founded in 1953 with the purpose of holding the Diocesan Archive which dates from the medieval period. The Borthwick’s transfer to its current home at the University of York demonstrates parallels with St Catherine’s religious and educational values.

While its collections strengths include Church History and Medicine, the Borthwick holds a vast array of archival materials and collections. From environment and natural history, to social history, theatre records and local business archives - there are collections to support all research interests. Items from the library’s Rare Book collection can also be viewed in the archive search room by appointment. You can book an appointment by email

Appointments at the Borthwick Institute are currently available Monday to Wednesday between 9.30 and 16.30. Any adjustments to these times will be placed on the Borthwick website.

The latest change to our joint services is the way in which theses and dissertations are accessed on site. Our physical copies of PhD and MPhil theses and Masters dissertations are now part of the University Special Collections. This means that all print items are viewable in the Borthwick search room. For access, you will need to email Borthwick ahead of time with details of the thesis you wish to view.

St Catherine’s scholarly spirit has also evolved into the digital world. We've also been updating our online access and a selection of Masters dissertations are now available electronically through Yorsearch.

The Borthwick also has electronic access to selected collections and dedicated search tools. This includes the Retreat Archive which is a part of a larger Wellcome Trust project and partnership with Findmypast. Selected materials can also be found on the York Digital Library - our repository for multimedia resources.

Find out more information about the Borthwick and its current projects.

Keep St Catherine’s scholarly associations alive by visiting the library and archives. Our staff are happy to help you get started on your research and to uncover those hidden gems, so please do ask if you have any questions.

Image from York Digital Library.