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R. H. C. Davis Collection

Identifier: 02-exws_davis

Scope and Contents

This collection is composed of architectural notebooks with Davis's handwritten notes and sketches of architectural features of sites in England, Western Europe, Southern Europe, North Africa, the Levant and Turkey. The majority of the notes are on sites in England and France, but other countries include Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. The focus of Davis's research represented in these notebooks is primarily on structures created during the medieval period: cathedrals, churches, abbeys, castles, mosques, etc., but there are also notes on sites from the Roman period and earlier. Some of the notebooks contain inserted photos of sites, engravings, travel brochures, maps and ephemera. Some of the early notebooks in this collection cover the period during the Second World War in which Davis served with the Hadfield-Spears mobile hospital unit in the Near East, North Africa, and Southern Europe, including notes he took on the mosques of Cairo, the topic of his first book.


  • Creation: 1773-1990
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1938-1990
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/24/2007


Biographical / Historical

R.H.C. Davis (1918-1991) was a British scholar specializing in medieval history. He began his teaching career in 1947, the year he received his Master's degree from Oxford University. In the course of his academic career, he held positions at University College London, Oxford University, and the University of Birmingham, where he became Chair of Medieval History in 1970. He remained at the University of Birmingham until his retirement in 1984. Davis was known particularly for his research and publications on the Anglo-Norman period of English history, but also published research on medieval warfare and wrote a book on the mosques of Cairo. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Davis had refused to register for military service, but later joined a Society of Friends (Quaker) ambulance unit; the Hadfield-Spears mobile hospital. He traveled with this unit from Lebanon across North Africa and into Italy and Southern France with the advance of British forces.


45 Volumes (approximately 2.25 linear feet) : 45 volumes in 2 boxes

1 boxes (Contains volumes 1-19)

2 boxes (Contains volumes 20-45)

Language of Materials



Notebooks of R.H.C. Davis (1918-1991), British medieval historian, which contain handwritten research notes, sketches, photos and ephemera relating to medieval architectural and archaeological sites in the United Kingdom, Europe, North Africa and the Near East, taken throughout his entire career.

Note: Notebook Numbering

The Archive's notebook numbering differs from the numbering by the original creator.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The collection consists of 45 notebooks housed inside custom-made archival folders. All of the notebooks have their original covers with Davis's notes written on them, including the original "volume numbers" he assigned to certain notebooks.

Physical Access Requirements

WMU Special Collections. Non-circulating. Contact department for access.

Physical Location

The 45 notebooks are housed in the Cage in the Vault and the box of offprints is located in the 2nd Floor Annex.

Source of Acquisition

Diarmaid MacCulloch, private dealer, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Method of Acquisition


R. H. C. Davis Collection Finding Aid
Benjamin Wright and Adam Carlson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Special Collections Repository

Western Michigan University Libraries, Special Collections
Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490