Manuscripts Collection

The Manuscripts Collection is New Zealand’s major collection of non-government manuscripts. Manuscripts are the unpublished records of individuals and organisations, preserved for their research value.

The Manuscripts Collection forms part of the Alexander Turnbull Library collections. It fills over ten kilometres of shelving.

Manuscripts also are often called archives. They include things like letters, emails, journals, diaries, notebooks, reminiscences, speeches, scrapbooks and minute books.

The collection includes the records of individuals and organisations active in the areas of:

  • race relations
  • Māori history and knowledge
  • European discovery and exploration of the Pacific and Antarctica
  • immigration and settlement
  • war
  • industrial relations
  • business
  • politics
  • missionary and church activities
  • sport and leisure
  • science
  • protest movements
  • the arts.

As well as the records of individuals and organisations of national and international standing, we collect records of people who are not necessarily well known but whose experiences are representative of significant aspects of New Zealand's history. Examples include soldiers' letters, whakapapa books and immigrant journals.

We also have microfilm copies of New Zealand and overseas manuscript material held by other institutions, or still in private hands. Some material such as the Donald McLean papers and the Ranfurly Collection are now digitally available.

The Donald McLean papers on Papers Past website

The Ranfurly Collection

Access the Manuscripts Collection during the building redevelopment

Most materials in this collection are available from the Library's Wellington Reading Room.

For more information, use the Ask a Librarian form.

You can see digital copies of some items online in through their collection records on this site.

Get copies from items in this collection

Copies can be made from items in this collection if copying doesn’t breach copyright or other restrictions. Copying services are provided in the Library Reading Room, or you can order photocopies or photographs of items by letter, phone or email.

More about making copies

More about copyright and privacy

Borrow items in this collection

You can borrow microfilm copies of some items from this collection by interloan through your local library. We do not lend original material.

More about interloans

Archive of New Zealand Music

The Archive of New Zealand Music is part of the Manuscripts Collection. Its aim is to document the history of New Zealand music.