The Hypatia Library was set up in 1996, with offices at the Jamieson Library, Newmill, Penzance, Cornwall to protect and develop the extensive collections of archives (scrapbooks, diaries, letters), books, periodicals, artefacts and ephemera, and audio-visual materials formed over many years by Melissa Hardie, who continues to serve as the Company Secretary and one of the Trustees.

The Hypatia Collection is an umbrella name for a set of sub-collections comprising books, documents and artefacts that concern women's roles in history and contemporary life. This resource is an archive of documentation on the achievements and contributions of women world-wide in all fields of endeavour.

Hypatia's work is the documentation of women's lives through research, publication and exhibition. From its founding, the Trustees have honoured the famous phrase of the American historian, Mary Ritter Beard, when she wrote ‘No documents, no history.’

Since 1996, a main objective has been to place Hypatia Collections widely in collaboration with national and international educational institutions, where public access is made available to the widest audiences. By showing our faces and using our voices, we bring attention to situations and causes that are too frequently brushed aside and overlooked.


The University of Exeter in Devon houses the largest of our institutional donations, the Hypatia Collection. It is part of the Special Collections Library and its catalogue is online. Comprising some 12,000 papers and volumes, it is often referred to by us as our ‘Mother Collection.’



As the University of Exeter is a partner in establishing the first university serving the county of Cornwall, Hypatia wanted to help build up the holdings of the university library where we live. The University Librarian, Doreen Pinfold, is also a Trustee for the overall Hypatia Collection. Course work naturally leads their selection and approximately 1,000 volumes have joined their library service. The collection is currently being catalogued and can be found at the following link: University Library Catalogue.


Now installed in its new home at The Morrab Library, Penzance! This collection of some 3000 items documents the works and days of women in Cornwall, past and present. On the 22nd August 2018 Hypatia permanently gifted the Elizabeth Treffry Collection to the Morrab Library with a number of fittings and accessories to aid the continued cataloguing of the books and archives for the benefit of the public. Read more about the Elizabeth Treffry Collection.



A natural history collection of Cornwall

Stemming from the research carried out for the book, A Passion for Nature, 19th-Century Naturalism in the Circle of Charles Alexander Johns (2008), a large collection of books and papers is gathering around the subjects of the Cornish natural environment, guidebooks, botanical illustration (Emily Stackhouse, Ann Catherine Johns, Emily Johns Carrington), photography and the men and women who have recorded the natural history of Cornwall in visual and literary ways.

The Rev C A Johns, the author of A Week at the Lizard, and Flowers of the Field, both bestsellers of the 19th century passion for learning about the world around us, also gathered a large circle, including his family, of creative writers and artists around him, one of these the poet NT Carrington, the 'poet of Dartmoor'; Johns's sister Emily was also married to Carrington's son Henry, the editor, printer and publisher of the Bath Chronicle. Family scrapbooks, letters, poems and momentoes have been added to the Archive in 2011 by the generosity of the great niece of Johns, Imogen Thomas of Dorset. We are most grateful to her for this confidence and gift which will form the nucleus of the natural history collections in the reading room of the Morrab Stables project in due course.

You can find the 'A Passion for Nature' Book in the Hypatia Trust bookshop



Brought by Curator, Polly Attwood, from Concord, Massachusetts in 2013 to join the main collections in Cornwall, this sub-collection is currently seeking re-location. It has been added to over the years by a number of women’s studies organizations sharing duplicates, or closing library operations. At this stage, its long-term future is unknown. For all enquiries please email Polly Attwood at


A sub-collection of literature and history of women’s lives, mainly focused on women of the United States and Canada, this Hypatia Collection was named for the grandfather and the mother of Melissa Hardie. Presented to the North American Programme and Women's Studies Forum, Bonn University, Bonn, Germany.

The Wagner Collection consists of some 3,000 books, journals and ephemera related to the history and literature of the American woman, in addition to some general history of North American cultures.

Included are a variety of subjects such as 19th century intellectual traditions, fiction, biography, poetry, religious movements, feminist journals, African-American literature, tribal histories, the westward movement, Canadian literature, etc.

The collection was made in memory of Melissa Hardie’s grandfather and mother, both avid readers and collectors in their time, whose own libraries have gone to various Texas libraries and museums.

The Paul & Vera Wagner Collection was presented as a donation to the English Department and the North American Studies Program of the University of Bonn, Germany.

The collection has now been catalogued and an online bibliography is available. You can access the bibliography by clicking here.

Professor Dr Sabine Sielke, the Director of the North American Studies Program at Bonn, is a member of Hypatia’s circle of Trusted Friends.


The most recent of our larger donations was delivered in May 2015 to the UAB, considered to be the best University in Spain (QS World University Rankings, 2012).  It consisted of various academic dictionaries and reference books in addition to a large collection of biographies and fictional works by European women. These will join the general English language sections of the university’s humanities library.

Other donations have been to the special collections of Leeds University, York University, the Glasgow School of Art Library, the Newlyn School of Art, and the Newlyn Archive Centre, Cornwall.