Architectural History Collections

Find out more about Architectural History Collections in the IHR Wohl Library. This page shows examples from the range of sources and guides which support study in this area.


Buildings are a historical topic in their own right and an important source for historians, and the library’s collections support a range of study in this area. These include an eclectic range of works on specific buildings types (breweries, peasant houses, monasteries and workhouses to name a few) and works on understanding buildings, as well as their preservation, interpretation and display.

The collections also include a vast range of primary sources relevant to the subject. Landowners, tenants, architects, policy-makers and commentators are represented in editions of letters, diaries and papers alongside works of biography and prosopography. Travel writing and antiquarian histories include contemporary descriptions and impressions of the built environment. Household and trade records give insights into the building trade, and records of government highlight social concerns and resulting legislation. There is much accompanying visual material in the form of illustrations and plans.

Material is dispersed around the geographically-arranged collections, although the classmark BC.264 contains general British material. Subject headings such as architecture, buildings, vernacular can be browsed in the catalogue. The areas below suggest other places a researcher could look. 

Highlights from the Collections: Primary Sources

Records of Central and Local Government

A variety of sources are held for different countries. These include Parlimentary Debates and Proceedings, Petitions and Reports and Acts of Parliament. See also the separate Guide to UK Parliamentary History in the library. Examples covering the subject include:

  • Legislation on housing standards
  • New towns
  • Commissions for building new churches
  • Window, hearth and brick taxes
  • Licences to crenellate

Antiquarian Histories

The library holds a range of county and local histories which can provide invaluable descriptions and illustrations of buildings standing at the time they were written. Examples include:

Newspapers, Magazines, Annual Reviews

Online newspaper collections (onsite only) - both fully searchable:

Nineteenth century periodicals:

  • Gentleman's Magazine
  • Edinburgh Review
  • Quarterly Review
  • Notes and Queries
  • Nineteenth century

The Builder and illustrations index, 1843-1883

Highlights from the Collections: Reference and Secondary Works

Biographical Sources

Secondary Works

The library collections include a range of secondary works. There are many items exploring individual buildings, local and regional traditions and guides to particular building types. Examples include:

Geographic area

Building type

Periodicals and Theses


Current copies of most of our periodicals are on open access in the periodicals room on the ground floor. Back issues can be ordered from the store. Many are also available online within the building via the links on the catalogue entry. There are many relevant articles in periodicals such as Vernacular Architecture, Urban History, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and The Local HistorianBibliography of British and Irish History and JSTOR are examples of the online databases that can be used to locate journal articles. 


See further information on our theses. Examples covering the subject include:

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

You can also book a tour or training session.