The Robert Dawson Romany Collection

At the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading

The opening of a major new archive in Reading means that family historians in southern England no longer need to travel hundreds of miles to the great Gypsy collections of Liverpool and Leeds to study the fascinating history, culture and genealogies of their English Gypsy ancestors.

The Robert Dawson Romany Collection was donated by Robert Dawson - one of Britain's foremost experts on Gypsy history and culture - to the Romany & Traveller Family History Society in 1998. The Society in turn wanted to make the Collection easily accessible to its members and other researchers.

The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading was approached as the largest single archive relating to the rural history of England. The Museum was delighted to accept the loan of the Collection as a fitting complement to its unique resources.

Assembled over many years, the Collection includes not only copies of the most important published works on Gypsy history and culture, but also a large number of notebooks and manuscripts compiled by Robert Dawson himself, recording family histories, research findings and observations of Gypsy life, plus illustrations, photographs, music and video recordings and ephemera with a Gypsy theme. There are also many examples of Gypsy crafts.

As a result of the expert cataloguing undertaken by Committee members of the Romany & Traveller Family History Society, much of the Collection is now available by appointment as a vital new resource for those with Gypsy forebears, as well as academic researchers wishing to learn more about the major contribution the Romany Gypsy has made to the English rural economy for the past 500 years.

Please note that the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (JGLS) is not yet available at Reading.

Catalogue of Printed Books - Non-fiction  
Janet Keet-Black presenting a volume to John Creasey
Robert Dawson with some of the artefacts from the collection
The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX.
Telephone: 0118 378 8660 (international: +44 118 378 8660).

Open to researchers by appointment.

Please note that the Museum staff cannot deal with enquiries about genealogy or Gypsy history.
Research can only be undertaken by visiting the Centre.

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