The Library at All Souls College

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The Library at All Souls College
External view
Internal view
CountryUnited Kingdom
TypeAcademic library
LocationAll Souls College, Oxford
Items collectedBooks, Journals, Newspapers, Magazines, Maps, Drawings and Manuscripts
Size185,000 items
Access and use
Access requirementsOpen to members of Oxford University upon application, and to external scholars by appointment.
Other information
DirectorProf. Colin Burrow (Fellow Librarian) Gaye Morgan (Librarian in Charge & Conservator)
WebsiteThe Codrington Library

The Library at All Souls College, formerly known as the Codrington Library, is an academic library in the city of Oxford, England.[1] It is the library of All Souls College, a graduate constituent college of the University of Oxford.

The library in its current form was endowed by Christopher Codrington (1668–1710), a Fellow of the college who amassed his fortune through his sugar plantation in the West Indies which was worked by enslaved people of African descent.[2] Codrington bequeathed books worth £6,000, in addition to £10,000 in currency (the equivalent of approximately £1.2 million in modern terms).[3] The library, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and begun in 1716, was completed in 1751 and has been in continuous use by scholars since then. It is Grade I listed on the National Heritage List for England.[4]

The modern collection comprises some 185,000 items, about a third of which were produced before 1800.[5] The library's collections are particularly strong in Law, European History, Ecclesiastical History, Military History, and Classics. There is an expanding collection devoted to sociological topics and the History of Science.[5] Unusually for an Oxford college library, access to the Codrington is open to all members of the University (subject to registration).[6] The library contains a significant collection of manuscripts and early printed books, and attracts scholars from around the world.

The first woman to be admitted as a reader to the library was Cornelia Sorabji from Somerville College, at Sir William Anson's invitation in 1890.[7]

In November 2020, the college took the decision to stop referring to the library as the Codrington Library, as part of a set of steps to address the problematic nature of the Codrington legacy, which comes from wealth derived from slave plantations.[8]


  1. ^ Simmons, John S. (1982). "A note on the Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford". Oxford: All Souls College. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011.
  2. ^ Walvin, James (17 February 2011). "Slavery and the Building of Britain". BBC. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  3. ^ "National Archives Currency Converter". The National Archives. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
  4. ^ Historic England. "All Souls College, Codrington Library (1046762)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  5. ^ a b "The Codrington Library". Oxford: All Souls College. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  6. ^ "The Codrington Library Applications". Oxford: All Souls College. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  7. ^ Pauline Adams (1996). Somerville for women: an Oxford college, 1879–1993. Oxford University Press. p. 114. ISBN 019920179X, ISBN 978-0-19-920179-2.
  8. ^ "All Souls College and the Codrington Legacy". Retrieved 2020-11-16.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°45′14″N 1°15′12″W / 51.7538°N 1.2533°W / 51.7538; -1.2533