Most of the material in the archive dates from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but there is also some 18th-century material preserved by the firm as being of particular interest. Longman premises suffered from two fires, the first in 1861 and the second in the Blitz when most of the Longman correspondence was lost at the Paternoster Row premises on 29 December 1940, which may go some way to explaining some of the gaps in the records. The archives which remain are therefore not complete, but do form an extensive collection.
The collection has been split into 3 parts:
Part I, MS 1393/1, contains ledgers, registers and bound records, all relating to the publishing side of the business. They include 'commission' ledgers, 1807-1908 and 'divide' records (referring to items published at the author's expense or with division of profits between author and publisher) 1807-1913; royalty ledgers 1891-1908; statement books 1902-1941; London letter books 1811-1837, 1881, 1914, 1936-1940; Bangkok letter book 1901-1907; Indian letter books 1902-1905, 1929-1945; impression books (recording costs and numbers of copies printed) 1794-1963; copyright ledgers 1794-1926; catalogues of antiquarian books 1814-1846; monthly lists produced for the book trade 1858-1917; notes on books published (for the book trade) 1855-1948 (Please note that the Notes on Books series and the Monthly lists have been transferred to the Special Collections Library).
Part II, MS 1393/2, contains loose documents, letters, papers and photographs referring both to the Longman family, the firm and to the publishing trade. They include autograph letters from Longman authors 1799-1900 (authors include Matthew Arnold, Winston Churchill, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Florence Nightingale, Christina Rossetti, Robert Southey, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, William Wordsworth and Thomas Babington Macaulay); scrapbooks of Walter Jefferay, manager of the New York office, 1903-1930s and notebooks and research material of C.J. Longman relating to the publication of, ‘House of Longman 1724-1800’.
The archive also contains papers relating to firms acquired by Longmans. These include J.W. Parker, Son and Bourne; Sir Richard Phillips; A.J. Valpy; Thomas Cadell.
Part III, MS 1393/3, contains agreements with authors and copyright holders.