Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books

Lambeth Road,
London SE1 6HZ


Special collections or strengths: The Museum illustrates and records all aspects of the two World Wars and other military operations involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914. The Department of Printed Books is a national reference library. The strength of the collection is its detailed coverage of the two World Wars, but there are also extensive holdings relating to more limited conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War.  The 1982 Falklands campaign is covered, as well as other post-1945 conflicts including those in Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Vietnam.  Material is also available concerning the peace-keeping role of the United Nations generally and of British forces in particular.  As well as the purely military aspects, the collection reflects the growing interest in the economic, literary, social and political impact of war. 

The Library has an outstanding collection of British, French, German and American unit histories, including published histories of Armies down to Battalion level, of Navies down to individual ships and of Air Forces down to Squadrons.

The pamphlet collection includes examples of wartime leaflets, Army forms, identity cards, ration books and other ephemera.

Special collections include the reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, a vast number of aerial leaflets and unique material relating to British women's involvement in the First World War. 

However, please note that the extensive building work mentioned above will involve the relocation of large parts of the Library’s collection, and a concomitant reduction in their availability until the end of 2010.

The Library is also responsible for the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials: see for a service which includes an online database of more than 55,000 war memorials in the UK.


20th Century
Administrative history
Historiography (inc Philosophy of history)
Holocaust and Genocide
Imperial and Colonial
Military/Naval history
Palaeography and Diplomatic
Political history
Science and Technology
Social history
Asia and Middle East
Australasia and Pacific
Britain and Ireland
Middle East
Specialist categories: 
Military/Naval history
Imperial and Colonial