Primary Sources for History

  • The Library holds a large selection of books containing primary sources - try searching on the Library Catalogue combining keywords for a topic with words such as 'documents', 'sources', 'records'. Diaries, letters and papers may be found by browsing the shelves of books on your topic or searching the Library Catalogue for specific writers. There is a list of selected anthologies of primary sources available in the Library.

    This page provides access to full text resources, as well as details of useful archives.  If you would like further help with using these resources or finding sources for your assignments, contact your History Librarian, Katie Hambrook, email khambrook@brookes.ac.uk.

  • Early European Books - Early European Books is a comprehensive digitised collection of works printed in Europe between 1450-1700.

    Historical texts - consists of the following collections: Early English Books Online (EEBO), books and pamphlets published in English between 1473 and 1700; Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), books and pamphlets published in Britain and its colonies between 1700 and 1800; UK Medical Heritage Library, 19th century European medical publications; and 19th Century books from the British Library.

    Internet Archive E-book and Text Archive - a freely available collection of e-books - useful for 19th and early 20th century publications.

    Project Gutenberg - a collection of free electronic books, with a strong emphasis on older literary works.

    Camden Old Series (1838 – 1872)Camden New Series (1872 – 1901)Camden Third Series (1900 – 1963)Camden Fourth Series (1964 – 1992)Camden Fifth Series (1993 – present) - Large collections of primary sources on British history (including the British abroad and foreign views on Britain): editions of diaries, letters and other documents, with expert commentary.  Search within each series separately, by topic, or by the name of a person; you may also browse through the contents of the series through links at the bottom of the Camden Series web pages.

    ARTstor - more than one million images covering a wide variety of subject areas, including history, art, religion, anthropology and literature.

    Bridgeman education - images useful for a wide range of subjects including history and medicine.

    British Cartoon Archive - provides access to a wide range of cartoon artwork covering a variety of topics. The collection dates back to 1904.

    The John Johnson Collection - an archive of materials which document everyday life in Britain in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The materials include facsimile images of posters, handbills, broadsides and pamphlets covering entertainment, the booktrade, popular topographical prints, advertising, crime, murders and executions.

    Wellcome Images - one of the world's richest image collections, with wide ranging themes including medicine, disease, social history, culture and war.

    British periodicals - an archive of hundreds of full text periodicals from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth, covering history, literature, music, philosophy, drama, archaeology, architecture, science, art and the social sciences.

    The John Johnson Collection - an archive of materials which document everyday life in Britain in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The materials include facsimile images of posters, handbills, broadsides and pamphlets covering entertainment, the booktrade, popular topographical prints, advertising, crime, murders and executions.

    JSTOR - full text archive including some 19th century journals and over 23,000 nineteenth century British pamphlets on sociopolitical and economic issues.

    Nineteenth century UK periodicals online (series 1) - full text of some 100 UK periodicals published between 1800 and 1900. Coverage ranges from Boy's Own to the British Women's Temperance Journal, and from Punch to the Racing Times.

    Vogue Archive (US edition) - full text of the US edition of Vogue from 1892 onwards.

    British History online map archive - this freely available resource includes an Ordnance Survey Map archive covering the whole of Britain and early maps of London.

    Historic Digimap - contains Historic Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain published between 1843 and 1996.

    Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection : online collection of international maps from the University of Texas

    Harold Fullard Collection of Atlases (Special Collections, Brookes Library) - includes reproductions of a wide range of old maps and some early twentieth century atlases.  There are also historical atlases that may be useful as secondary sources (i.e. modern atlases illustrating historical periods and themes).  The collection is kept in the Special Collections Reading Room.

    The Guardian and The Observer - contains the complete digital edition of The Guardian from 1821-2003 and The Observer from 1791-2003. The database includes all articles, advertisements and illustrations.

    Seventeenth-eighteenth century Burney Collection newspapers - the collection, gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney, includes pamphlets, proclamations, newsbooks and newspapers published in England, Ireland and Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries, plus a selection of papers from British colonies in the Americas and Asia.

    Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers - access to the full text of 48 nineteenth century national and regional British newspapers.

    The Times digital archive 1785 - 1985 - the complete digital edition of The Times (London), including all articles, advertisements and illustrations. 

    Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) daily reports - covers the period 1974–1996 and includes transcripts of broadcasts and news from around the world on a wide range of topics and events. All the reports have been translated into English.

    Box of Broadcasts gives you access to thousands of recorded radio and TV programmes from an online archive.  It allows you to record programmes which will then be stored on the database.

    News and current affairs - links to databases for current news sources.

    British History Online - includes a wide range of primary sources and calendars (summaries) of government papers, particularly for the medieval and early modern period.

    Hansard 1803 - 2005 - this site provides access to information from Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament. More recent parliamentary publications are available from the  Parliament Website.

    HeinOnline - particularly useful for US legal and government sources; also historic legal textbooks and historic constitutions from around the world.

    House of Commons parliamentary papers 1688 - 2003/4 - access to the full text of the entire collection of parliamentary papers - Bills, Command Papers and House of Commons Papers - from 1801 to 2003/04. You can browse by collection or century or search by a subject. It also includes official publications from the House of Commons and House of Lords from 1688 to 1834 - sessional papers and other material such as Journals and Private Acts. More recent parliamentary publications are available from the  Parliament Website.

    Old Bailey Online - contains the proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913.

    The Cause Papers - an online searchable catalogue of more than 14,000 cause papers relating to cases heard between 1300 and 1858 in the Church Courts of the diocese of York.

    UK legislation - the official website of UK legislation (complete up to 1800 and since 1988, with partial coverage between 1800 and 1988). Select 'Browse' to view details of the types of legislation available or you can search across the whole database.

    Westlaw - is a law database which includes case law from 1220 onwards.

    The Library holds a number of published editions of diaries: try browsing the shelves of books on your topic or searching the Library Catalogue for specific writers.  Some may be found by searching on the Library Catalogue with the keywords ‘diary’ and ‘biography’.

    Camden Old Series (1838 – 1872), Camden New Series (1872 – 1901), Camden Third Series (1900 – 1963), Camden Fourth Series (1964 – 1992), Camden Fifth Series (1993 – present) - large collections of primary sources on British history including editions of diaries.  Search within each series separately, by topic, or by the name of a person; you may also browse through the contents of the series through links at the bottom of the Camden Series web pages.

    Mass Observation Online - is a valuable source for the social history of Britain in the 20th century (starting in the late 1930’s and focussing on the 1940s and 50s).  It includes 500 diaries recording the everyday lives and opinions of a broad range of men and women across Britain.  It also includes over 2,000 surveys on popular opinion and attitudes on a wide range of subjects, including popular culture, consumerism, sex, the family, war, and politics. 

    Some of the subjects surveyed by the Mass Observation surveys are covered by these later publications:
    British Social Attitudes - freely available online, this survey has been carried out annually by NatCen since 1983 and tracks changes in people's social, political and moral attitudes. 
    Social Trends  - paints a broad picture of UK society today, and how it has been changing.  The years 1970-2011 are available at the Harcourt Hill Library and 1977-2011 at the Headington Library.

    National Archives - the holdings of the National Archives span 1,000 years of British history, from the Domesday Book to government papers recently released to the public. From the website users can access catalogues of the holdings, online collections and research guides.

    Oxfordshire History Centre - the county archive for Oxfordshire. It holds a wide range of printed material, original documents and photographs related to Oxfordshire and its history.

    Oxford Brookes Library  Special Collections - includes primary sources within the following subject areas: Public and allied health, Food and drink, Publishing, Architecture, Oxford Brookes University.

    Archives Hub - a national gateway to descriptions of archives in UK universities and colleges, detailing what is available and where.

    AIM25 - Archives in London and the M25 area. AIM25 is a major project to provide electronic access to descriptions of the archives of over one hundred higher education institutions, learned societies, cultural organisations and livery companies within the greater London area.

    CAIN - Conflict Archive on the Internet - contains information, source material and a wealth of background material on 'the Troubles' and politics in Northern Ireland from 1968 to the present.

    Oxford Brookes Library Special Collections - includes primary sources within the following collections.

    Welfare Collection: an extensive collection of press cuttings demonstrating views on health policy, particularly in the 80s and 90s; NHS Official reports and papers from 1951 onwards; books in the Collection that were published around the time of the formation of the NHS which illustrate the contemporary debates around public health; oral history sources such as transcripts of extensive interviews with people who were doctors in the 30s and 40s.

    Medical Sciences Video Archive: an online collection of video interviews with leading figures in the world of medical and clinical science from the 1930s to the end of the 20th century. The interviewees talk about their lives, describing their early influences, schooling, university education and medical training; they give a personal view of the role they played in the development of clinical medicine and science in the period.

    Dorset House: the archive of the first School of Occupational Therapy in the UK, founded in 1930, includes personal papers of the principals, photos and scrapbooks

    National Brewing Library and the Fuller Collection: wonderful resources for researching the history of food and drink in the 19th century and early 20th century (including the history of brewing, the temperance movement and attitudes to alcohol, the history of pubs, restaurants and hotels, material relating to household management, recipe books).

    Jane Doe Collection: a fascinating archive of a woman journalist of the 20s and 30s

    Booker Prize Archive: offers a unique insight into British literary life from 1968 onwards.   

    Early Children's Book Collection and the Peter Stockham Collection: resources for researching the history of childhood -  collections of 19th and 20th century children's books.

    Oxford Brookes University Collection: principals’ reports, committee minutes, policy documents and plans, prospectuses, publicity material, press cuttings, and staff and student magazines. From 1865 to the current day.