There are some 8000 early printed and other rare books, most of which are now listed on the Newton catalogue.
The core of the collection is the library of the first Master, James Montagu (d. 1618). Other important donations were given by Lady Anne Harington and her daughter Lucy, Countess of Bedford, relatives of the foundress, Francis Combe and Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield.
There is a fine range of Hebrew books, bequeathed by Paul Micklethwaite in 1639 (left). The theological and liturgical sections include several rarities, including the only complete copy of the York Pica of 1509, the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, and the last edition of the Sarum Manuale, published in Douai in 1610.
Early scientific works are well represented, including two copies of the first edition of Newton’s Principia, and many engagingly illustrated works such as (right) Johann Bayer's celebrated celestial atlas, Uranometria (1603), which introduced the Bayer stellar designation that is still used today.
Among the atlases and travel books is an account of Anson’s voyage round the world by Richard Walter, a Fellow of Sidney who sailed on the expedition. There are books from the libraries of Henry VIII, Cranmer, John Dee, John Donne, and Sir Thomas Tresham.
The Muniment Room houses special sections devoted to the Franciscans, Cromwell, and the history of the College and the University.
Catalogues and calendars:
A.H. Cook, Early Printed Books to the Year 1500 in the Library of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (Cambridge, 1922).
Links to printed book information:
The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue is the international database of 15th-century European printing created by the British Library with contributions from institutions worldwide. Sidney incunabula are included in this database.
ESTC lists over 480,000 items published between 1473 and 1800 published in the British Isles and North America or on the Continent for English readers.