The core of the British collection is the published editions of primary sources, covering British history from the 5th century onwards. This is supplemented by bibliographies, guides to sources, historiography and periodicals.
The collection is particularly strong for the medieval and early modern period. There are separate collections for material on Scottish, Welsh and Irish history, and English local history.
Highlights from the Collection
Organisation of the Collection
The items are classified with the letter B (BB for oversized material) and subdivided as follows:
- Bibliographies and a comprehensive range of guides to historical sources covering English libraries and repositories. The bibliographies cover both broad and specific subjects; see also our online resources for online bibliographies. (Classmark: B.0)
- Historiography, including biographies of leading British historians (Classmark: B.09)
- Calendars of manuscript sources such as the Historical Manuscripts Commission reports and Camden series. Standard reference works on British History, such as the Oxford History of England (Classmark: B.1)
- Biographical dictionaries, biographical works covering different professions and posts and other works containing biographical information, such as printed school and university registers (Classmark: B.2)
- English legal history and English parliamentary history (Classmark: B.3-4). See separate guide to the Parliamentary history sources
- Printed primary sources for British History, together with some selected monographs, arranged by period:
- B.5: England to 1485
- B.6: Tudor
- B.7-9: Modern
- A range of periodicals are held covering Anglo-Saxon England to Contemporary British History, both general and subject specific. Current copies of our journals are on open access in the library, and back issues can be ordered from the stack. Many are also available online within the building via the links on the catalogue entry. BBIH and JSTOR are examples of the online databases that can be used to locate journal articles.
- We only hold published material, but the National Archives holds a large proportion of the manuscript material, and its website includes gateways to material in repositories elsewhere in the country. The IHR has a lot of guides and finding aids that will assist with locating this material.
- While the IHR library predominantly collects primary sources, Senate House Library has comprehensive holdings of secondary works.
- British Library
- Although we have a growing collection of material, people researching the post-1945 period will find more extensive collections at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
See further details about online resources.
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.