The manuscripts collection consists of the archives of the Linen Hall Library, including minutes of the Society since its foundation in 1788; minute books of other local societies including Belfast Literary Society (1801- ); the Belfast Total Abstinence Society (1837-58); the Belfast Rhetoric Society (1842-54); the Institute of Journalists (Ulster District) (1890-1939); the Belfast Burns Society (1931- ); the Belfast Charitable Institution, with minutes and records from 1752-1977 (the Society was based at Clifton House and was the principle body responsible for the social welfare of citizens in the 18th and early 19th centuries, it includes records of burials in Clifton Street graveyard); Belfast Trades Council, the minutes provide some insight into the history of trade unions in Belfast), and manuscripts of writers from Northern Ireland. These writers include Sir Samuel Ferguson (19th century poet who composed the epic Congall), Denis Ireland, Jack Loudan, Robert Greacan, Martin Waddell, Sam Hanna Bell, Margaret Grant Cormack and manuscripts of Patricia Lingard. This collection also includes the Joy Manuscripts which were compiled by Henry Joy (1754-1835). This is a collection of 14 volumes which include scattered materials for the Annals of the Province of Ulster and materials for the History of Belfast. It also includes much of Joy's correspondence, with letters from Henry Flood, Lord Charlemont and Prime Minister William Pitt. A copy of the Children's Catechism is also included. There are also a number of items associated with Sir Edward Carson, namely his personal scrapbook of Ulster Day 1912, his personal copy of the Ulster Covenant. This part of the collection includes press cuttings, conntemporary cartoons, posters advertising anti-Home Rule rallies and telegrams from Carson's supporters. The Blackwood and Greeves Pedigrees are other important manuscript collections. There are also items connected with Joseph Devlin - a presentation volume to mark his retirement as an MP, and a number of celebratory scrolls presented to him in Australia.
The strength of this collection is the Linen Hall manuscript archive dating from the Library's beginning in 1788. It reflects the literary, historical and political life of Northern Ireland.
It consists of approximately 200 manuscript boxes.
This Collection is not catalogued. Part of it is listed on an itemised handlist.