First World War sources in the IHR library

The IHR's collection of primary source material and guides to sources covers all aspects of the First World War. The collections are arranged geographically, so there are sections on the war within relevant country collections, and in the thematic Military and International Relations collections. One of the strengths of the collection are the wide-ranging personal accounts, see below for some examples of the sources and themes that can be found within them. There are also strong holdings of national and international official sources.

A good starting point for research is the range of reference works, guides to sources and works on historiography. These include:

Bibliographies and biographical works

General material such as the Bibliography of British and Irish History and other national bibliographies, and subject specific works, for example:

General histories and Reference works


Current issues of most periodicals are on open access in the library, back copies are available electronically or in the store. Some examples which have included articles on First World War history are:



Historiography and Memory

Types of sources

Writing from the front line


From different perspectives, these include letters, diaries and other sources:

Chaplains and Medical profession accounts

Examples include:

Civilian accounts

Examples include accounts from people living across Europe and the US:

School records


A range of sources including lists of teachers and former pupils who served or were killed in the war, descriptive accounts within school diaries, journals and histories, and information about the creation of war memorials.

For further information see the blog post on this subject: 

‘Business as usual’: School life in Britain during the Great War


Political writing

Including editions of letters, diaries and memoirs of national and local politicians:

Diplomatic Sources

Examples include:

Parliamentary Sources

Naturally there is much about the War throughout the parliamentary sources, including the journals and debates, petitions, reports of committees and commissions and Acts of Parliament. 

Newspapers and Magazines

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

Whitaker's Almanack

The Wipers Times : the complete series of the famous wartime trench newspaper

Themes in the sources

Pacifism/ conscientious objectors

Examples include:

Civilian attacks

Examples include:


Food shortages and transportation

This theme comes up across the parliamentary sources, personal narratives, newspapers and school records

Women's Employment

This theme comes up across the parliamentary sources, personal narratives, newspapers and school records

Other organisations



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