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Papers of Sir Charles Lyell

Identifier: Coll-203

Scope and Contents

  1. 10 boxes of correspondence
  2. 2 boxes of miscellaneous papers and lecture notes
  3. 24 boxes of offprints of papers
  4. 294 notebooks


  • 1820-1874



11 metres


The first tranche is arranged as ten series in the collection (aka Lyell 1-10).

Custodial History

The Charles Lyell Collection is the sum of multiple accruals which have coalesced at the University of Edinburgh over a span of almost 100 years. The first of these accruals was a collection of geological specimens, minerals and shells, alongwith what was described at the time as 'The Papers of Sir Charles Lyell', presented in 1927 to the Grant Institute of Geology by Lady Lyell of Kinnordy (see University Court minutes, 14 Nov 1927).The paper records were transferred from the Grant Institute of Geology, to the University Library in 1960 and 1975. The Specimens remained with the Grant Institute, in the Cockburn Geological Museum. Other papers and Lyell's notebooks remained in the custody of the Lyell family at Kinnordy. Thanks to the dedicated support of leading institutions, groups and individuals, the University of Edinburgh led a successful campaign in 2019 to acquire Lyell's 294 notebooks. In 2020, the remaining papers of Sir Charles Lyell were allocated to the University of Edinburgh under the UK Government's 'Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax' scheme. Additionally, smaller groups of records from the original 1927 deposit, that had found their way into academic offices and stores, have been identified, and have been passed from the School of GeoSciences to the Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

First tranche
Transfered from the Grant Institute of Geology, 1960 (catalogued, Coll-203/1-10). Accession E60/3
Second tranche
Transfered from the Grant Institute of Geology, 1975 (uncatalogued, Gen.1999). Accession E75/45.
Third tranche
Purchased from Sotheby's, November 2019

Processing Information

Fonds level description compiled for NAHSTE project by Andrew Thomson , May 2000. Revised by Pamela McIntyre, September 2023.
Papers of Sir Charles Lyell
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379