More about the collections

An overview of some of the many and varied collections in the J.C. Beaglehole Room.

New Zealand and Pacific collections

The Fildes Collection provided the basis of the New Zealand research materials, but it has been supplemented by the Dr Robert Stout Collection, received in 1969 and covering a very similar range of material published up to 1959. In addition, we continue to try to cover the full range of New Zealand material published prior to about 1940, apart from the purely technical and the popular, with acquisitions as material becomes available.

As well as the more general material in the Fildes and Stout collections, individual gifts and subsequent purchases have produced a collection very strong in post-1945 New Zealand poetry, and well supplemented by New Zealand fiction and drama published since about 1960. The Special Materials Collection acts as a depository collection for Te Herenga Waka University Press (publishers of modern New Zealand fiction, poetry, and playscripts).

A video about our Samoan history and heritage collections can be viewed on YouTube.

The New Zealand and Pacific collections consist mostly of historical New Zealand material, with some Pacific and Australian material present as well.

Named collections

The J.C. Beaglehole Room has a number of named collections which have been purchased or donated to the Library.

Horace Fildes

Early post-contact history of New Zealand and the Pacific.

Horace Edward Manners Fildes was a grandson of the early settlers in Wellington, James John Taine and Leocadia di Oliviera (a protegee of Edward Gibbon Wakefield). He had a consuming interest in the early history of New Zealand, and from ca 1910 until his death in October 1937, he collected and indexed books, manuscripts, and newspaper articles, and corresponded with researchers and historians. He left his private library of 1800+ volumes to the University.

The Fildes Collection includes the published works, Fildes’ bound scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, his annotated working copies, research notebooks, and correspondence files. Published works can be searched via Te Waharoa and manuscript papers can be searched via ArchivesSpace.

Detailed biographical information may be found at Horace Fildes’ biographical entry in Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Dr Robert Stout

Primarily 20th century works on New Zealand history.

Dr Robert Stout was a Wellington physician, the son of Sir Robert Stout and brother of Sir Duncan Stout, both of whom served terms as Chancellor of the University.

Dr Stout was an active collector of New Zealand historical works from the 1920s until his death in 1958. He never married and left his library to his nephews and niece, Robert, John, and Vida Stout (children of Sir Duncan), who donated the collection to the University in 1969. The collection covers general historical works, with only occasional indications of Dr Robert’s professional life.

Although there is a strong element of 19th century New Zealand works, almost all in English, this collection’s particular strength is in the many historical publications issued as part of the national and provincial centennials from 1940 to 1951. More general historical works from the early 1930s to the late 1950s are also well represented.

A separate and distinctive feature of Dr Stout’s collection is the collection of typed transcripts from early manuscript accounts of New Zealand, and the photostat copies of some particularly rare printed accounts of the same period. The typescripts are held in the library’s archive and manuscript collections.

All the material in the Dr Robert Stout collection is searchable through Te Waharoa.

Brancepeth Station Library

The Brancepeth Station Library Collection contains approximately 2000 volumes of late 19th century popular fiction and general works. The library was established by the Beetham family in 1884 as a library for the staff of Brancepeth Station, which was then one of the largest properties in the Wairarapa.

Presented to the University Library in 1966 by the late Mr Hugh Beetham, it is still housed in its original cabinets in the corridor leading to the J.C. Beaglehole Room. The collection has a large proportion of the works of popular authors such as Mrs Oliphant, Antony Hope, Rider Haggard and E.P. Oppenheim, as well as established writers of the earlier 19th century like James Fenimore Cooper and Bulwer Lytton. Australian and Canadian writers are well represented, and there are a few early New Zealand works among the travel and popular history books which make up the non-fiction section.

The collection is searchable through the catalogue. We have retained the original Brancepeth Station callmarks, consisting of a number for each author plus a running number for each new title.

The Labour Trust Archives

In 1973 the University established the Labour Archives Trust and the Library received a bound set of the Maoriland Worker on permanent loan from the Federation of Labour, and the papers of labour leader (and father of a University professor) ‘Big Jim’ Roberts.

Adding to the Labour Trust Archives has been a collecting focus of the J.C. Beaglehole Room over the years. Notable additions include material from the Dan Long Union Library and the Ken Douglas personal Library.

The New Zealand Literary Archive

The New Zealand Literary Archive (NZLA) was established by the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation and Mike Robson of Independent Newspapers Ltd in 1992.

Contributing authors are

Lloyd Geering

Professor Sir Lloyd Geering was the inaugural professor of religious studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He has contributed a significant body of scholarship to theology, both within New Zealand and internationally. This collection is a subset of his extensive library on the history of Christian thought.

We also have an archival collection which includes sermons, scrapbooks, recordings of lectures and a recording of his 1967 appearance before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand on charges of “disturbing the peace and unity of the church” and “doctrinal error” (which were dismissed).


The Kipling collection has about 120 books by and about Kipling, as well as a run of The Kipling Journal from 1927–1987. This collection carries the call number PR4852.C65.

Swiss Family Robinson

This collection consists of over 400 different editions—from 1812 to 2007—of Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss. It also includes spin-off material (Swiss Family Manhattan or Lost in Space for example) and SFR themed ephemera such as Typhoo tea cards and a birthday card. All items in this collection have a call number beginning with PT2583 W9 S413.

Pamphlet collections

The Library has a strong collection of New Zealand pamphlets, based in part upon the Sir Robert Stout pamphlet collection, but supplemented by smaller collections received from individuals such as J.T. Paul, Sir Thomas Hunter and Horace Fildes and continually augmented by regular acquisitions.

For the earlier decades the collection is dominated by political material. In more recent years the political material has become much less important, and general social commentary has become more significant.

There are further significant collections of pamphlets from Bert Roth (labour history), Robert Neil Hislop (social credit and related topics) and Henry Valder (political and economic topics around his interest in employee-employer partnerships), as well as subject collections of pamphlets from outside New Zealand.

Altogether there are around 7000 items in the pamphlet collections and almost all can be found in Te Waharoa.

Books, periodicals and papers

The book collections amount to about 20,000 volumes, published between 1517 and this year.

Early printed books

Any books printed before 1820 are held in the J.C. Beaglehole Room. These volumes (about 800 titles) are chiefly in English and include classical literature, English history, and a certain amount of political philosophy. There are some significant or interesting editions of major texts, though the majority are standard reprints or minor works.

General (modern) rare books

General rare books printed after 1820 include 19th century illustrated works, first editions of literary and scientific works, and copies with interesting associations.

A small but important group is material from the late Professor John Cawte Beaglehole’s collection of fine printing, presented in 1994 by his son, Dr T.H. Beaglehole. This is supplemented by a number of similar works from other sources, and by the P.A. Lawlor collection on book-collecting and bibliophily. The fine printing collection continues to grow.

Periodicals and newspapers

A few examples of both periodicals and newspapers are held in Special Collections.

The J.C. Beaglehole Room holds most of the Library’s periodical runs completed before 1850, and New Zealand titles completed before 1914. Some early New Zealand newspapers published before about 1875, with a few other special issues are also held.

Significant among these newspapers are the four newspaper titles published in Wellington before 1855 (New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Wellington Independent) and The Maoriland Worker/The New Zealand Worker/The Standard from 1910 to 1958.

Archive sets of Victoria’s student magazines and newspapers published before 1945 are also held here, but The Spike (1902–1949), S.M.A.D. (1930–1937) and Salient (1938–1979*) have been digitised and are available via the NZ Electronic Text Collection.

An index to The Spike, the student magazine published from 1902 to 1949, has been compiled, and is held on cards in the J.C. Beaglehole Room.