The Robert Dawson Romany Collection

The Robert Dawson Romany Collection was generously donated by Robert Dawson – one of Britain’s foremost experts on Gypsy history and culture – to the Romany and Traveller Family History Society in 1998.

To make it easily accessible to RTFHS members and other researchers, the Society has deposited the Collection on loan at the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading: a museum that is the largest single archive relating to the rural history of England and that is therefore a fitting home for this important resource about Romany life.

Bob Dawson painting his vardo in the early 1960s.

What is it?

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

It’s a vital resource for all those with Gypsy forebears, as well as for academic researchers wishing to learn more about the major contribution the Romany Gypsy has made to the British rural economy for the past 500 years.

How to access it

Visits to the Collection are by appointment only. To find out more, please contact:

The Museum of English Rural Life
University of Reading
Redlands Road
Reading RG1 5EX

Tel: 0118 378 8660 (international: +44 118 378 8660)
E-mail: merl[at]

This page last updated: 6 May 2018.