The majority of the IHR’s military collection relates to the armed forces of Europe, ranging from the medieval period to post-Second World War. The collection contains general reference material (bibliographies, catalogues and archive guides), collected works and biographies, a considerable amount of source materials (diaries, correspondence, army lists, military tactics, maps) and periodicals.
The main section of the collection is organised chronologically, with general reference works to complement these periods. Material referencing the earliest period in the collection, the fourth and fifth centuries through to the high Middle Ages, is followed by works on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The collection is then broken down for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into specific military campaigns, with particularly strong sections on the Franco-Prussian wars of 1870-71 and the First and Second World Wars.
The primary sources within the military collection range from the memoirs of well known military leaders, wartime correspondence, and journals of soldiers and civilians. There is also a considerable amount on military tactics as well as runs of army and navy lists.
The material on the Second World War is one of the collection’s major strengths with around 400 titles, comprising of primary sources as well as numerous series on the contributions of various countries to the war efforts, for example the Official history of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War and Australia in the war of 1939-1945. Amongst the diaries and memoirs of those who served in the Second World War are tactical treatises, military surveys and government reports.
Thanks to a bequest from Vincent Wright, the section on the Franco-Prussian war now holds around 150 books, making it one of the fullest sections in the military collection pertaining to a specific campaign.
Other related collections within the IHR
- Material on civil wars is in the relevant geographical collection.
- Complementary material on the French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars (for example, Napoleon's correspondence) are in the French collection.
- Material on the American Wars of Independence are in the Colonial collection.
The IHR collects predominantly primary materials, and within the military collection there are a wealth of sources that will elaborate upon both personal experiences of those in wars, as well as providing information directly related to specific battles. These sources can shed light on individual and national experience during military campaigns.
- Memoirs and biographies including Les mémoires d'un poilu d'Aunis : un si long cauchemar and Murat : 1767-1815
- Diaries, for example The diary and despatches of a military attache in Warsaw, 1938-1939
- Military correspondance, both official and personal, including the Further correspondence relative to the military expedition to the east : pts. 5-8, Feb. 1855-March 1856 from the British War Cabinet
- Details of military tactics, such as Cours d'art militaire : tactique
- Comprehensive runs of official Army and Navy lists
- Official government maps such as the Catalogue of maps published by the Topographical Section of the British War Cabinet. Many of the sources within the collection come with accompanying maps.
These are designed to complement the main collection of primary sources. The bibliographies, catalogues and encyclopaedias would be useful as introductions to the subject, while the dictionaries and atlases could be helpful when used alongside primary materials. Below are just some examples of the secondary reference material that the military collection contains.
- A bibliography of regimental histories of the British Army
- Guía de Archivos Militares
- The First World War: the essential guide to sources in the UK National Archives
- A guide to the naval records in the National Archives of the UK
- Encyclopaedia of World War II: a political, social, and military history
- International encyclopaedia of military history
- Brassey's encyclopaedia of military history and biography
These form a substantial part of the collection and as well as providing articles on the subject, can be useful for suggesting further sources for consultation. While military history may be dealt with in a number of the journals subscribed to by the IHR, the following will be the most relevant to those studying the field. The current issue of each journal is available on open access. BBIH and JSTOR are examples of the online databases that can be used to locate journal articles.
- Journal for the Society of Army Historical Research
- War in History
- Irish Sword: the journal of the Military History Society of Ireland
- The Journal of Medieval Military History
- War and Society
- Aster, Sidney, British policy towards the USSR and the onset of the Second World War, March 1938 - August 1939 (London, 1969)
- Moore, Zeta Mary, Army Recruitment and the Uncertainties of the 'Fiscal-Military' State in Britain, 1793-1815 (London, 2006)
- Hodges, Paul Dominick, The British infantry and atrocities on the western front, 1914-1918 (London, 2006)
The IHR subscribes to several electronic resources that will be of use to those studying military history, but of those sources these may be of most relevance.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Armed Forces
- Historical Statistics of the United States: National Defense, Wars, Armed Forces, and Veterans
- British Periodicals: Military
- Bibliography of British and Irish History
- Keesing’s World News Archive (last 77 years)
Other relevant libraries/institutions
- Imperial War Museum
- National Army Museum
- National Maritime Museum
- National Archives
- Royal United Services Institute Library of Military History