Economic History Resources in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Since its foundation in 1921 the library has collected works on many facets of economic history and anyone engaged in this field will find relevant items in many of the library's collections. Items within the our collections would be of particular use for anyone engaged in researching the economic history of Britain and Ireland, the history of international trade, especially the Hanseatic League, the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie and the Dutch East India Company, and the history of Banking in Britain, Europe and the United States. What follows is a brief overview, showcasing a fraction of the resources you can consult in the library, as well as some useful links to other relevant libraries and archives.



Finding Items in the Library

Works relevant to the economic historian are distributed over the majority of the library's collections. As one might expect the economic history of a particular nation, region, county or city etc. would form part the relevant national collection in the library (e.g. works on industrial development in Glasgow is in our Scottish collection). Works that are more transnational in scope would generally be place in the libraries General Collection. Relevant source material can also be found within works themselves (i.e. parliamentary sources, diaries, editions of letters, etc.)

The catalogue is also a vital tool for resource discovery and a well-worded search can help you discovery the range of material we have here. Although keyword, title or author searches can be very useful you might also want to consider conducting subject searches too. Below are some useful general phrases to start a subject search on our catalogue:

  • Economic aspects
  • Economic conditions
  • Economic policy
  • Indust (this will pull-out every subject beginning with these letters)

There are also addition subject search terms included in many of the sub-sections of the overview below. And just one final point, these terms form part of what’s called Library of Congress subject headings and as such use American spelling, e.g. “labor” instead of “labour”.

Overview of Relevant Works

Bibliographies, Archive Guides & Guides to Sources




Reference Works & Statistics



Economic Thought

Some useful keyword and subject search terms:
   economics early work to 1800



Primary Industries (Food Production & Mining)

Some useful keyword and subject search terms:
   coal mines and mining
   gold mines and mining
   mines and mineral resources
   silver mines and mining


Mining & Mineral Extraction

Whaling & Fishing Industry


Secondary Industries (Manufacturing)

Useful keyword and subject search terms:
   automobile industry and trade
   iron industry and trade
   manufacturing processes
   mills and mill-work
   textile industry


Tertiary Industries (Service & Financial Industries)

Useful keyword and subject search terms:
   banks and banking
   consumption (economics)
   retail trade

Banking & Finance



Poverty & Welfare

Useful keyword and subject search terms:



Labour History & Industrial Relations

Useful keyword and subject search terms:
   labor and labouring classes
   labor laws and legislation
   labor unions


National Economic Policy

Useful keyword and subject search terms:
   public policy
   finance, public


International Trade & International Commercial Relations

Useful keyword and subject search terms:
   economic integration
   foreign economic relations
   free trade
   mercantile system
   trade routes



Other Resources

The library holds a number of MA and PhD theses completed from the 1930s to the early 2000s by students at the colleges of the University of London, references for which can be searched on the catalogue. Some titles of particular relevance include:

Electronic Resources
A range of e-resources can be accessed from the PCs within the library, including JStor, the Times Digital Archive, the Making of the Modern World (a database of over 62,000 works from the Goldsmith-Kress Library Economic Literature), and EEBO and ECCO. Resources that can be accessed remotely include British History Online (partial access: free / full access: by subscription), History Online and Charles Booth’s London, a free online resource produced by the London School of Economics. Click here for a full list of e-resources accessible within the library.



Other Libraries, Archives & Learned Institutions

Anyone researching economic history in London is in the fortunate position of having many national and world-leading collections in relative proximity to each other. Besides the gargantuan collections at the British Library, the National Archives and the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the LSE (also, understandably, where the Economic History Society was founded in 1926), the Senate House Library also has some of the best collections on the subject in the UK, including its collection dedicated to the social sciences and its range of special collections, namely the Goldsmiths Library of Economic Literature. Also within London one can find the library of the Bishopsgate Institute (useful for 19th century trade union history).

Outside London, the national libraries of Scotland and Wales also have large collections of relevance to the economic historian. And finally in Oxford there is the Bodleian Library of Social Science and in Cambridge, the Marshall Library of Economics.


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