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British History Guide   Tags: britain, british_history, england, english, history, primary sources  

With a focus on digitized sources, this guide acquaints researchers with some of the resources available to the Yale Community for all time periods of British History.
Last Updated: Aug 24, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
At a Glance Print Page

Primary Source Databases

Twentieth Century British History
by Todd Gilman, Michael Printy - Last Updated Aug 24, 2014
Mostly digitized primary sources for 20th century British history (newspapers, government documents, books, images, etc.) Also includes Yale microform collections and printed guides.
492 views this year
Nineteenth Century British History
by Todd Gilman - Last Updated Aug 12, 2013
Mostly digitized primary sources for 19th century British history (newspapers, government documents, books, images, etc.) Also includes Yale microform collections and printed guides.
691 views this year
Early Modern British History
by Todd Gilman - Last Updated Aug 24, 2014
Mostly digitized primary sources for early-modern British history (pamphlets, government documents, books, images, etc.) Also includes Yale microform collections and printed guides.
1,385 views this year

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Important Databases for British History

  • Parliamentary Papers
    With all collections enabled, HCPP now includes over 200,000 House of Commons sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688. HCPP delivers page images and searchable full text for each paper, along with detailed indexing. HCPP is currently complete from 1801-2006. Records and papers from recent sessions of Parliament will continue to be added on a regular basis.
  • Annual Register
    The Annual Register is a year-by-year record of British and world events covering 1758 to the present and including contemporary opinion, historical context and biographical information. From the American War of Independence, through western industrialisation and world wars, The Annual Register has chronicled and reported events across the globe from the perspective of a contemporary witness. The online version of The Annual Register enables cross-searching of volumes.
  • Historical Abstracts
    The best place to search the secondary literature, this database indexes journal articles, the contents of festschriften, dissertations, and book reviews concerning the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the history of the United States and Canada).
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the premier source for biographical information on persons connected with the British Isles from all periods of history. The qualifications for inclusion are that subjects not be living, that they inhabited or were connected with the British Isles, and that they were noteworthy. Excellent bibliographies and pointers to archival collections accompany the entries.
  • Early English Books Online
    Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 - from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War. See also: Eighteenth Century Collections Online.

Digitized Newspapers & Magazines

Many Newspapers and Magazines have been Digitized.

You're going to have to check the "Digitized Sources" tab to get a comprehensive listing. But for the time being, here's a sampler of some of the most useful digital newspapers:


  • 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. The newspapers, pamphlets, and books gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney (1757-1817) represent the largest and most comprehensive collection of early English news media. The present digital collection, that helps chart the development of the concept of 'news' and 'newspapers' and the "free press", totals almost 1 million pages and contains approximately 1,270 titles. Many of the Burney newspapers are well known, but many pamphlets and broadsides also included have remained largely hidden. Newly digitized, all Burney treasures are now fully text-searchable in Gale Digital Collection.
  • 19th century British Library newspapers. Searchable full text of full runs of newspapers specially selected by the British Library to best represent nineteenth-century Britain. This new collection includes national and regional newspapers, as well as newspapers from: established country or university towns; the new industrial powerhouses of the manufacturing Midlands; and Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Special attention was paid to include newspapers that helped lead particular political or social movements such as Reform, Chartism, and Home Rule. Penny papers aimed at the working and clerical classes are also included.
  • British Periodicals I. British Periodicals Collection I consists of journals spanning the late 17th through early 20th centuries, and covering a range of topics such as literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences. Derived from the UMI microfilm collection Early British Periodicals the collection will contain the equivalent of 5,238 printed volumes and over 3 million pages.
  • British Periodicals II. Access to the searchable full text of hundreds of periodicals from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth, comprising millions of high-resolution facsimile page images of
    English Literary Periodicals and British Periodicals in the Creative Arts. Topics covered include literature, music, art, drama, archaeology and architecture.
  • The Economist.  Full text archive of the seminal British magazine.
  • Irish Times. Here you can search every issue of this seminal Irish newspaper between 1859 and 2009.
  • Eighteenth Century Journals.  This Portal brings together rare journals printed between c1685 and 1815, illuminating all aspects of eighteenth-century social, political and literary life.
  • Scotsman Digital Archive. Here you can search every newspaper published between 1817 and 1950. Find significant moments in the history of Scotland, major historical world events or discover if your ancestor appears in our births, marriages and deaths notices, or even in a news story.
  • Times Digital Archive. Researchers can search through the complete digital edition of The Times (London), using keyword searching and hit-term highlighting to retrieve full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The entire newspaper is captured, with all articles, advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching.

Other Key Digital Databases

  • British Online Archives. Microform Academic Publishers offers scholars and academics the primary sources to advance their research within the humanities and social sciences. This online archive enables users to access their unique resources from any location with internet access. The archive has a wide range of items to interest those researching territories colonised by Britain including: America, India, Africa, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and Melanesia. Documents include records made by the East India Company and the records of missionaries from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The collection contains a range of sources that relate to both politics and history, these range from the Parliamentary Labour Party papers and the Anti-fascist newsletters of the International Transport Workers' Federation to the records of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and on to The British Union of Fascists’ newspapers and secret files. Their documents include British Broadcasting Corporation records and trade directories. 
  • Irish History Online. Irish History Online is a guide to what has been written about the history of Ireland from earliest times to the present. It has been established in association with the Royal Historical Society Bibliography of British and Irish History and London's Past Online. IHO contains items, drawn from Writings on Irish History from 1936 to 2002, plus all the Irish material currently held on the online Royal Historical Society Bibliography. Included are articles from journals, including local history journals, and collective volumes. Searches can be made by author, by subject, by publication details, or by period covered.
  • The Economist. Full-text database of every issue of the seminal English magazine from 1843-2006
  • Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674-1834 (Universities of Hertfordshire and Sheffield). A fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.
  • Victorian Database Online. Search over 100,000 records listing books, articles, and dissertation abstracts published from 1945 to 2002 on every field of nineteenth-century British studies.
  • Confidential Print: North America.  Colonial Office records spanning 1839-1914, including CO 884/1-38 West Indies, 1826-1961; FO 414/1-278 North America 1824-1941; FO 461/1-13 America, 1942-1956; FO 462/1-10 USA, 1947-1956
  • The Welsh Experience of the First World War This project has conducted mass digitization of primary sources relating to the First World War from the Libraries, Special Collections and Archives of Wales. The project will make available a coherent, consolidated digital collection revealing the often hidden history of the First World War as it impacted all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture. This digital archive brings together source materials that were previously fragmented and frequently inaccessible. This digital archive is a unique resource of vital interest to researchers, students, and the public in Wales and beyond.


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