Military History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

The majority of the IHR’s military collection relates to the armed forces of Europe, ranging from the medieval period to post-Second World War. The collection contains general reference material (bibliographies, catalogues and archive guides), collected works and biographies, a considerable amount of source materials (diaries, correspondence, army lists, military tactics, maps) and periodicals.

The Iraq papers bookcover imageThe main section of the collection is organised chronologically, with general reference works to complement these periods. Material referencing the earliest period in the collection, the fourth and fifth centuries through to the high Middle Ages, is followed by works on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The collection is then broken down for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into specific military campaigns, with particularly strong sections on the Franco-Prussian wars of 1870-71 and the First and Second World Wars.

The primary sources within the military collection range from the memoirs of well known military leaders, wartime correspondence, and journals of soldiers and civilians. There is also a considerable amount on military tactics as well as runs of army and navy lists.

The material on the Second World War is one of the collection’s major strengths with around 400 titles, comprising of primary sources as well as numerous series on the contributions of various countries to the war efforts, for example the Official history of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War and Australia in the war of 1939-1945. Amongst the diaries and memoirs of those who served in the Second World War are tactical treatises, military surveys and government reports.

Other noteworthy aspects of the collection include a comprehensive run of the Navy Records Society and Les Armées françaises dans la Grande Guerre. Alfred's Wars bookcover image

Thanks to a bequest from Vincent Wright, the section on the Franco-Prussian war now holds around 150 books, making it one of the fullest sections in the military collection pertaining to a specific campaign.

Other related collections within the IHR

  • Material on civil wars is in the relevant geographical collection.
  • Complementary material on the French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars (for example, Napoleon's correspondence) are in the French collection.
  • Material on the American Wars of Independence are in the Colonial collection.

Primary source materials

A War Nurse's Diary bookcover imageThe IHR collects predominantly primary materials, and within the military collection there are a wealth of sources that will elaborate upon both personal experiences of those in wars, as well as providing information directly related to specific battles. These sources can shed light on individual and national experience during military campaigns.

Secondary works

These are designed to complement the main collection of primary sources. The bibliographies, catalogues and encyclopaedias would be useful as introductions to the subject, while the dictionaries and atlases could be helpful when used alongside primary materials. Below are just some examples of the secondary reference material that the military collection contains.

Bibliographies and cataloguesThe Boer War bookcover image




Current periodicals

These form a substantial part of the collection and as well as providing articles on the subject, can be useful for suggesting further sources for consultation. While military history may be dealt with in a number of the journals subscribed to by the IHR, the following will be the most relevant to those studying the field. The current issue of each journal is available on open access. BBIH and JSTOR are examples of the online databases that can be used to locate journal articles.


For history theses across other universities, see History Online. See further information on theses holdings at the IHR library. Here is a selected list:

Electronic Resources

The IHR subscribes to several electronic resources that will be of use to those studying military history, but of those sources these may be of most relevance.  

Other relevant libraries/institutions


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