Primary Source Collections


Many of Brill's primary source collections are unique, as they are often the only source of rare documents outside of the source library itself. In addition to offering primary source material as collections, we also offer groups of collections as series, including:

The collections are normally available in either Microfiche or Microfilm format, or online on our BrillOnline Primary Sources platform.

Finding Aids and EAD

The numerous monographs, periodicals, newspapers, archives, herbaria, manuscripts and photograph collections which have been captured mostly involve rare materials which are often difficult to access. In the current information society, reliable electronic descriptions of these products are indispensable. A large section of our catalogue consists of archival material. In order to provide access to these kinds of collections, finding aids are supplied according to the data structure provided by EAD (Encoded Archival Description).

For an overview of the available EAD finding aids, click here.


An important service provided is MARC21 records, delivered free of charge to customers who purchase collections. Each title has been catalogued on core level, according to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) and the Library of Congress authority files for names and subjects. Newly published catalog records are also contributed to the RLG Union Catalog, which is the largest bibliographic database of the Research Libraries Group (RLG).

As titles are encoded according to the Machine Readable Catalog format, they can usually be loaded directly into most library OPACs. This ensures that academic staff, students and researchers can more easily identify and access individual documents contained within the primary source collections.

Source Libraries

Documents in our primary source collections are carefully selected with assistance from our academic advisory boards. Source libraries include The British Library, Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, BNF, Herzog August Bibliothek, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Russian State Historical Archive, New York Public Library, Société du Musée Historique de la Réformation, Human Rights Internet.

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