SOAS University of London

SOAS Library

Welcome to Special Collections, SOAS Library

Here you can consult archives, manuscripts, photographs, maps, audio-visual material, rare books and SOAS PhD theses relating to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

Broadly speaking, our collections reflect the British interaction with Africa and Asia over the last 250 years, and include archives of missionary societies, NGOs and campaign groups, and business organisations, as well as papers of individuals, including diplomats, campaigners, and academics.

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Special Collections Closure: November 2021-May 2022

SOAS Special Collections will be closed from 1 November 2021 until May 2022 due to refurbishment work taking place on Library Level F.

The UKRI and AHRC funded refurbishment project will significantly improve the Library’s environment systems for its archives, manuscripts and rare books stores as part of our ongoing commitment to safeguard the collections in our care for now and the future.

During the closure some of our collections will continue to be available via SOAS Digital Collections or as microform copies.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. As the refurbishment project progresses, we will provide updates on this webpage. Should you have any questions, please contact

Service Update for October 2021

The Special Collections Reading Room will remain open until 29 October 2021. Access will be provided in the Main Reading Room, Library Level D. To allow for social distancing, the number of people using the Reading Room will be temporarily restricted, and places must be booked in advance. Users must also preorder all material they wish to consult during their visit. We have made some changes to our Special Collections Reading Room opening hours and procedures in light of Covid-19, so even if you’ve visited us before, please read our guidance explaining what you can expect from your visit.

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