Information Services

Access the Collection

Access Arrangements - all the information you need to be able to access the Sir Charles Lyell Collection, both in-person and remotely.

Charles Lyell Notebook

Impact of COVID-19

As a designated essential research lab to the Arts and Humanities, the Centre for Research Collections is currently open. For staff safety, the Centre for Research Collections and the Lyell Project Team have reduced staffing capacity onsite and restricted access to collections. This means it may take us longer to respond to your enquiries however, staff will always advise on any foreseen substantial delays on receipt of enquiries.

Search the Catalogue

Please note that only part of the collection is currently catalogued. Conservation and cataloguing work is ongoing and updates to the catalogue are published regularly. 'The Papers of Sir Charles Lyell', the part of the collection which was donated by Lady Lyell of Kinnordy to the University of Edinburgh in 1927, is catalogued under reference numbers 'Coll-203/1-10'. Cataloguing of later accessions is well underway, and the completion of the cataloguing of Lyell's Notebooks, purchased in 2019, is imminent. Lyell's Notebooks are catalogued under reference numbers beginning 'Coll-203/A'. Preliminary work to catalogue 'The Further Papers of Sir Charles Lyell' acquired in 2020 under the UK Government's Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax scheme has commenced, and these are prefixed with reference numbers beginning 'Coll-203/B'.  Acquisitions from other sources are catalogued separately with their own unique catalogue reference numbers. For more information on how the collection is arranged, please see the About the Collection pages and see online catalogue of the Sir Charles Lyell Collection.

In-person Access

In-person access to the Sir Charles Lyell Collection is provided via the Centre for Research Collections reading room on the 6th floor of the University of Edinburgh Main Library.  Please note that reading room capacity is currently reduced due to social distancing measures and access is by appointment only. Please read the full guidance on the Centre for Research Collections' Visitor Information pages.

Only part of the Sir Charles Lyell collection is currently available for in-person research; The Papers of Sir Charles Lyell (Ref: Coll-203/1-10). This is the part of the collection which was gifted to the University of Edinburgh in 1927 by Lady Lyell of Kinnordy. The remainder of the collection, which includes Lyell's Notebooks (Ref: Coll-203/A), and Further Papers of Sir Charles Lyell (Ref: Coll-203/B), is currently unavailable for in-person research due to ongoing conservation, cataloguing and digitisation work to make the collection fully accessible.   

Digital Content

Over 1700 digital images of the Sir Charles Lyell Collection are publicly available to researchers via the University of Edinburgh's Image Collections website. Digitisation of the collection is ongoing. Currently, digital content includes a sample of Lyell's Notebooks, and a small selection of his letters, papers and illustrations. You can view digital content from the collection and related archive catalogue descriptions, where available, by following the links below. 

Links to Digital Images                                     /      Links to Archives Catalogue Descriptions

Enquiries and Remote Access

Centre for Research Collections staff are happy to provide support for researchers unable to visit in person, or those planning a research visit.  This includes searching of catalogues, recommendation of resources, specialist advice from collections staff, and providing access through visualisers.  For more information see the Centre for Research Collections Enquiries and Remote Access page.

Want to know more?

Support the Collection

  • Visit our Support the Collection page to find out more about how you can support this unique and internationally significant collection and our work to ensure that the collection is preserved, cared for and made accessible to all.