Ram of the Exmoor breed from ‘The breeds of the domestic animals of the British Islands’ by David Low (1842). MERL LIBRARY RESERVE MID FOLIO–4340-LOW

The library of the Museum of English Rural Life is the most significant collection of printed material in the country for the study of the history of British agriculture, the countryside and rural society. Its role is to gather and make accessible resources which provide a record of rural life and agricultural history. 

Containing tens of thousands of volumes, the library includes rare books, modern reference works, pamphlets and periodicals, from the 1500s to the present day. 

Designed as a browsing library, the collection has its own classification scheme. There are uniquely accessible, extensive runs of historically significant farming and countryside journals from the nineteenth century onwards. 

The very wide-ranging collections embrace subjects such as: 

  • farming through the ages 
  • agricultural technology 
  • history of food and diet 
  • perceptions of the countryside 
  • social history of the countryside 
  • garden and landscape history 
  • the politics of land use 
  • conservation issues 
  • local history 
  • estate management 
  • rural crafts and industries 

 Specialist subject collections

More information 

  • Search the collection via the catalogue
  • This collection is available for consultation via the Reading Room
  • Please contact us about your research, we may have a reading list of relevant items
  • The Rural History Bibliography 2001 to 2019 is a selective list of journal and book articles relating to agrarian history. It is also published in Agricultural History Review.