French History Collections

Find out more about the French History Collections in the IHR Wohl Library. We collect historical sources and guides to finding and using sources. This page shows examples from the collections.


The Library has extensive collections of French material, ranging from the history of the early Franks to modern France. There are strong local history holdings, as well as national material, making the IHR unrivalled as a source for French local history in Britain. The IHR's collections focus on primary sources, with supplementary guides, bibliographies, reference works and periodicals.

There are strong collections of chronicles, cartularies, editions of letters, political, legal and biographical works. Although there are extensive holdings on all periods of French history, the nineteenth century is particularly well-represented, thanks to a bequest from Vincent Wright.

Logo: The Society for the Study of French History

The IHR Archive contains material on the history of the research and study of French history in the UK. This includes IHR Seminar Attendance Registers and Anglo-French Conference records.

The Institute of Historical Research is incredibly grateful to The Society of the Study of French History for their generous support of work to catalogue and highlight this material. This gift has allowed the IHR to trace the growth and development of the study of French history through the 20th Century using the IHR’s extensive collections.

Highlights from the Library Collections

Guides to Sources

Medieval France

We have a large collection of titles about medieval France. This sub-collection is divided into four sections: a general section covering French history from the sixth century to the fifteenth (shelf-mark EF.21), French history to 987 (shelf-mark EF.22), 987-1328 (shelf-mark EF.24) and 1328-1483 (shelf mark EF.27). Below is a selection of available titles. There is also substantial content within the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) series.

To 987



From Renaissance to Revolution 1483-1789






Revolutionary and Napoleonic France 1789-1815

General Works

Letters and Memoires

Gender and the Revolution

Political and Legal Papers


The Church & Faith

Regional histories of the Revolution


France in the 19th Century 1815-1914

General Works and Themes

The Restoration and July Monarchy

The Second Republic

The Second Empire

The Third Republic to 1914

France since 1914

General Works and Themes

France 1914-1944

France since 1944

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.

In the IHR Archive

Accessing the Archive and General Overview

The IHR Archive holds a small but significant amount of material on the history of the research and study of French history in the UK. This includes IHR Seminar Attendance Registers and Anglo-French Conference Files.

If you are interested in accessing the archive contact the library to arrange an appointment.

IHR Seminar Attendance Registers

The IHR institutional archive collection includes a series of student attendance registers which relate to the rich array of seminars which have formed an essential core function of the IHR from its very beginning. The scope of these registers includes the extant Modern French History Seminar (archive ref: IHR/3/3/-), which can trace its origins back to the 1920s.

Entries in the registers typically consist of:

  • Seminar title
  • Name of the seminar convenor
  • Scheduled day and time of seminar
  • Names of the attendees

The earliest recorded session relating to the French Modern History Seminar took place during the 1923/24 academic session. It was led by Professor Paul Vaucher, Chair of French History at the University of London. The first session was attended by three students, at least two of whom were from University College London.

The registers show that the seminar seems to have run until the academic session of 1933/34 inclusive, when Monsieur A. Alexandre is listed as the seminar convenor. The name of the sole student, A. L. Mathers, who is listed for the session was crossed out, with no explanatory note appearing to clarify what had happened.

The French Modern History Seminar then seems to disappear from the surviving registers until after the Second World War. It re-emerges during the academic session 1947/48, led by Dr Alfred Cobban (later Professor of French History at University College London). The attendance rate for the post-war seminar led by Professor Cobban appears to increase noticeably when compared to entries for the pre-war years, which seem to have never consisted of more than five students.

It should be noted that not all the seminar registers are paginated and/or indexed, so additional time will be required of researchers to navigate their way through the various pages and entries which are of interest to them.

Anglo-French Conference Files

These files for part of the main International Congress of Historical Sciences (ICHS) series, which also includes file for the Anglo-French, Anglo-Polish and Anglo-Soviet Conferences. The conferences appear to have been organised wholly or at least partly by the British National Conference of the ICHS. Several Anglo-French Conference files record that during the 1950s, the IHR Secretary and Librarian, Alexander Taylor Milne, was Honorary Assistant Secretary of the BNC, while John Goronwy Edwards, IHR Director, was Honorary Secretary of the BNC. The IHR seems to have enjoyed a close relationship with the BNC during at least part of the 20th century.

There are surviving conferences files for the following Anglo-French Conferences:

  • 1934: Paris (archive ref: IHR/4/3/16)
  • 1939: Cambridge (archive ref: IHR/4/3/16)
  • 1945: London (archive ref: IHR/4/3/18/1 and IHR/4/3/18/2)
  • 1952: Bordeaux (archive ref: IHR/4/3/24, IHR/4/3/25 and IHR/4/3/26)
  • 1954: Edinburgh (archive ref: IHR/4/3/28, IHR/4/3/29 and IHR/4/3/30)
  • 1957: Caen (archive ref: IHR/4/3/38)

The conference files typically consist of:

  • Programmes in both English and French, sometimes comprising both draft and final versions.
  • Correspondence relating to the planning and administration of the conferences, as well as the submission of papers by speakers.
  • Copies and synopses of many of the academic papers delivered at the conferences, some featuring different titles to those which appeared in the final version of the programmes.
  • Itineraries and papers relating to travel, accomodation and catering arrangements such as invoices, menus and invitations.

The physical amount of material varies for each conference file, and consequently some files offer researchers a more comprehensive insight than others. As is often the case with archive material, the survival rate of material is varied.

Eminent British and French scholars in the field of French history and beyond loom large in the conference files, as speakers, organisers or attendees, including:

  • Michel de Boüard (1909-1989)
  • John Patrick Tuer Bury (1908-1987)
  • Eleanora Carus-Wilson (1897-1977)
  • François Crouzet (1922-2010)
  • Michel François (1906-1981)
  • Charles Higounet (1911-1988)
  • Jean Lindsay (1910-1996)
  • Yves Renouard (1908-1965)

Catalogue of Materials in the IHR Archive

An expanded description of the materials summarised above is also available.

Online Exhibition

Below is a selection of items included in an online exhibition of items from the IHR archive which show some of the ways French history has been researched and studied during the 20th century.

Invitation relating to the 1954 Anglo-French Conference addressed to A.T. Milne

Student attendance register to the Modern French History Seminar for the academic session 1947/8