J.C. Beaglehole Room: Collections and History

The collections in the J.C. Beaglehole Room explore diverse parts of New Zealand history. Below is an overview of some of the collections in the J.C. Beaglehole Room.

Rare Books, Periodicals and Papers

The Rare Book collections cover all printed materials held by the J.C. Beaglehole Room, and in total amount to about 16,000 volumes. As the Rare Books include modern items held for preservation, many are duplicated in the main Library collections, including, on occasion, the Three-Day Loan or Closed Reserve collections. The copies in Rare Books are not intended to supplement the restricted loan collections, but they may be consulted as a last resort.

Early Printed Books

The Library places all books printed before 1820 in the rare books collection. These volumes (about 800 titles) are chiefly in English and Classical literature, English history, and a certain amount of political philosophy. There are some significant or interesting editions of major texts, though the majority are standard reprints or minor works.

General (Modern) Rare Books

General rare books printed after 1820 include 19th century illustrated works, first editions of literary and scientific works, and copies with interesting associations.
A small but important group is the collection of fine printing formed by the late Professor John Cawte Beaglehole and presented in 1994 by his son, Dr T. H. Beaglehole. This is supplemented by a number of similar works from other sources, and by the P. A. Lawlor collection on book-collecting and bibliophily.


New Zealand and Pacific Collections

The New Zealand and Pacific collections mostly consist of New Zealand material, with some Pacific and Australian material present as well.

The Fildes Collection provided the basis of the New Zealand research materials but it has been supplemented by the Dr Robert Stout Collection, received in 1969 and covering a very similar range of material published up to 1959. In addition, there has been an attempt to cover the full range of New Zealand material published prior to about 1940, apart from the purely technical and the popular, with acquisitions as material becomes available. As well as the more general material in the Fildes and Stout collections, individual gifts and subsequent purchases have produced a collection very strong in post-1945 New Zealand poetry, and well supplemented by New Zealand fiction and drama published since about 1960. The Special Materials Collection acts as a depository collection for Victoria University Press (publishers in particular of modern New Zealand fiction, poetry, and playscripts).

Watch our video about our Samoan history and heritage collections.


Pamphlet Collections

The Library has a strong collection of New Zealand pamphlets, based in part upon the Sir Robert Stout pamphlet collection  but supplemented by smaller collections received from individuals such as J. T. Paul, Sir Thomas Hunter and Horace Fildes and continually augmented by regular acquisitions.

For the earlier decades the collection is dominated by political material, with minor school and church histories a significant additional component. In more recent years the political material has become much less important, and general social commentary has become more significant.
The New Zealand pamphlets have abridged individual records in the computer catalogue (callmark 'DU401 [date]').

There are further significant collections of pamphlets from Bert Roth (labour history), R.N.Hislop (Social Credit and related topics) and Henry Valder (political and economic topics around his interest in employee-employer partnerships), as well as subject collections of pamphlets from outside New Zealand. These are arranged only as, for example, 'Pamphlets on Australian Federation' with no record for the individual items. Roth and Hislop are able to be found through the catalogue; the other collections are currently recorded in the card catalogues in the J.C.Beaglehole Room.


Periodicals and Newspapers

A few examples of both periodicals and newspapers are held in Special Collections.

Most periodical runs completed before 1850, and New Zealand titles completed before 1914 are in the J.C.Beaglehole Room.  Early New Zealand newspapers published before about 1875, with a few other special issues are also held.  Significant among these newspapers are the four newspaper titles published in Wellington before 1855 (New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Wellington Independent).and The Maoriland Worker / The New Zealand Worker / The Standard from 1910 to 1958.  Archive sets of the student magazines and newspapers published before 1945 are also held here.

An index to The Spike, the student magazine published from 1902 to 1949 has been compiled, and is held on cards in the Beaglehole Room. The Spike has now been digitised and work is proceeding on digitising Salient.


Named Collections

The J.C. Beaglehole Room has a number of named collections which have been purchased or donated to the Library.

Brancepeth Station Library Collection

The Brancepeth Station Library Collection contains approximately 2000 volumes of late 19th century popular fiction and general works. The library was established by the Beetham family in 1884 as a library for the staff of Brancepeth Station, which was then one of the largest properties in the Wairarapa.

Presented to the University Library in 1966 by the late Mr Hugh Beetham, it is still housed in its original cabinets in the corridor leading to the J.C.Beaglehole Room. The collection has a large proportion of the works of popular authors such as Mrs Oliphant, Antony Hope, Rider Haggard and E. P. Oppenheim, as well as established writers of the earlier 19th century like James Fenimore Cooper and Bulwer Lytton. Australian and Canadian writers are well represented, and there are a few early New Zealand works among the travel and popular history books which make up the non-fiction section.

The collection is searchable through the catalogue. We have retained the original Brancepeth Station callmarks, consisting of a number for each author plus a running number for each new title.

Dr Robert Stout Collection

Dr Robert Stout was a Wellington physician, the son of Sir Robert Stout and brother of Sir Duncan Stout, both of whom were Chancellor of the University at different times. Dr Stout was an active collector of New Zealand historical works from the 1920s until his death in 1958. He never married and left his library to his nephews and niece, Robert, John and Vida Stout (children of Sir Duncan), who donated the collection to the University in 1969. The collection covers general historical works, with only occasional indications of Dr Robert's professional life.
The main nineteenth century works are represented, with almost nothing in languages other than English, but its particular strength is in the many historical publications issued as part of the national and provincial centennials from 1940 to 1951. More general historical works from the early 1930s to the late 1950s are also well represented. A separate and distinctive feature of Dr Stout's collection is the collection of typed transcripts from early manuscript accounts of New Zealand, and the photostat copies of some particularly rare printed accounts of the same period. The typescripts are held in the library's manuscript collections.
All the material in the Dr Robert Stout collection is searchable through the catalogue, with no special indication of its source.

The Fildes Collection

Horace Edward Manners Fildes was a grandson of the early settlers in Wellington, James John Taine and Leocadia di Oliviera (a protegee of Edward Gibbon Wakefield).  He had a consuming interest in the early history of New Zealand, and from c1910 until his death in October 1937, he collected and indexed books, manuscripts, and newspaper articles, and corresponded with researchers and historians. He left his private library of 1800+ volumes to the University.
The Fildes Collection includes the published works, Fildes's bound scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, his annotated working copies, research notebooks, and correspondence files. The manuscript papers are described briefly online, through a National Register of Archives and Manuscripts entry
Detailed biographical information may be found at Horace Fildes's biographical entry in Te Ara: the Encylopedia of New Zealand.