British History Online

British History Online is a digital library of printed primary and secondary sources for the study of Britain and Ireland, with a focus on the period 1300 to 1800.

It provides access to 1300 volumes, plus 40,000 images and 10,000 tiles of historical maps of the British Isles.

About British History Online

British History Online (BHO) is the IHR's digital library of printed primary and secondary sources for the study of British and Irish history, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800. BHO also covers the history of the British empire and Britons in transnational perspective.

British History Online:

  • is a key resource for the study, research and teaching of British and Irish history, with regular additions of new content

  • provides over 1100 volumes of primary and secondary content, free without charge

  • offers access to a further 200 volumes of key research materials via institutional and individual subscriptions to BHO Premium. BHO Premium also provides access to high-quality page scans of 200 volumes of content

  • is a digitisation project and store of the highest quality: all works are double re-keyed to ensure 99.99% transcription accuracy

  • provides a sustainable platform for the publication and preservation of digitised print and born-digital content, particularly derived from recent research projects

December 2020: new Patent Rolls for reign of Edward III

Calendars of Patent Rolls for the reign of Edward III, providing records of public government correspondence. 20 volumes now cover period 1216-1343.

September 2020: Voices of the people - 2500 petitions added to BHO

This month we complete a project to transcribe, digitise and publish 2500 petitions written and submitted by everyday people between the C16th and C18th.

June 2020: 30,000 PhD records added to BHO

British History Online now offers records of 30,000 UK and Irish PhD theses, awarded between 1901-2014. Chart links between historians using this data.

British History Online in numbers

BHO offers a wide range of resources for the study, research and teaching of British and Irish history, and British history worldwide.

  • 1300 : primary and secondary volumes
  • 10,000 : historic map tiles of the British Isles
  • 99.99% : transcription accuracy rate
  • 500-1999 : date range of coverage

What's available in British History Online?

Primary sources

Primary sources: including the journals of the House of Commons and House of Lords (1509-1832), and 42 volumes of primary content published by the London Record Society.

Secondary sources

Secondary sources: including 60 volumes from the Survey of London and 175 volumes of the Victoria County History.

Historical maps

Maps: 10,000 map tiles, including the 19th-century series of the Ordnance Survey, searchable by keyword, title or postcode.

Guides and calendars

Guides and calendars: detailed records of key governmental records, including the Calendars of State Papers, domestic, foreign and colonial.

Born-digital datasets

Research datasets: born-digital records created by specialists, including the Hearth Tax returns for Restoration London.

170 Victoria County History volumes

Victoria County History volumes: digital editions of 170 published volumes of the VCH, covering 35 English counties -- from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire. 

Full list of all VCH volumes, listed by county, is available here.

VCH content on British History Online can be browsed or searched by date, region and theme. Individual VCH volumes are also text searchable.


40,000 images contained within the volumes

BHO's 1300 volumes include c.40,000 historical images: these range from architectural drawings, plans and topographical artwork to hand-drawn maps and historical and contemporary photographs.

This sample volume -- VCH, Oxfordshire (vol. 18) -- includes a range of images of the kind found throughout British History Online.

Subject guides for BHO in teaching and research

Subject guides provide advice on using BHO for biographical, urban, religious, local and parliamentary history.


What more is available with BHO Premium?

200 volumes of key research materials

BHO Premium provides access to 200 additional volumes of content, including:

  • Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1547-1704
  • Calendars of State Papers, Scotland and Ireland, 1547-1606
  • Calendars of Close Rolls and Patent Rolls, 1244-1509
  • Calendars of Home Office papers for George III
  • Parliament Rolls of Medieval England

Calendars provide very detailed summaries of the original manuscript archive. A sample CSP volume is available: the Domestic Papers for James I, 1603-1610.

Page scans of 200 volumes of core content

BHO Premium provides access to page scans of 200 volumes contained within British History Online. Page scans include all volumes in the following, and other, series:

  • Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1547-1707
  • Calendars of State Papers, Scotland and Ireland, 1547-1606
  • Calendars of Close Rolls, 1244-1509
  • Calendars of State Papers, Foreign, 1547-1589, covering the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, and reports of the Armada invasion attempt

A sample of BHO page scans is available: the Domestic Papers for James I, 1603-1610 (November 1605, covering government reports on the Gunpowder Plot).

Contact British History Online

Please get in touch if you're interested in subscribing, or adding print or born digital content, to BHO.

For subscription & submission information, contact the BHO editorial team

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