Transport History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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The IHR library collects published editions of primary sources, covering western Europe and its colonial history. It also holds supplementary material including bibliographies, guides to sources, historiography and periodicals. Below are some examples covering transport history from across our collections.

Bibliographies, Guides and Reference works



Tourist Travel to Yellowstone National Park in the 1880s

A letter appeared in The Times of 1884 from the European Agent of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, stating that as there was possibility of delay to the opening of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, the company 'have placed sleeping cars and a dining car at the end of the Park Branch, for the use of those tourists who do not care to camp in the park'. (The Times, Wednesday, Jul 02, 1884; pg. 6; Issue 31175; col D, from Times Digital Archive).

Papers and Diaries

A range of sources of this type give useful insights into transport history including travellers' accounts and diaries of engineers and transport pioneers such as the Sandford Fleming diaries and Alexander Fothergill and the Richmond to Lancaster Turnpike Road. The Memoirs of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe give an account of ballooning in nineteenth century America.

The phone conversation between Richard Nixon and the Apollo 11 Astronauts is recorded in his public papers. Public papers of the Presidents of the United States. Richard Nixon : containing the public messages, speeches, and statements of the President, 1969 to August 9, 1974, Vol. 1, p.530

Official Records

A range of information can be gleaned from the Parliamentary and State records, for example from the thirteenth century towns petitioned the Crown for the right to collect Pavage, a toll for funding street paving [1]. This is recorded in the Patent Rolls and Parliament Rolls among other sources.

A separate Act of Parliament was passed for each new railway and these are recorded in the Journals and editions of the Acts of Parliament. We also hold Acts for road building, such as An Act.. for repairing and amending the highways leading from Seven Oaks to Woods Gate, and Tunbridge-Wells, ... in Kent, etc. [11 Geo.I c.15] in a bound volume of Acts of Parliament for Kent, and a compilation of Turnpike Acts The General turnpike road acts : with notes, forms, and an index.

The Parliamentary Debates cover discussions of transport issues, such as the Beeching Report in 1963: "But.. why is it then that...  in 1963 it has occasioned anger—anger cutting across Party barriers; anger deeper and more widespread, in my opinion, throughout the country than almost any domestic issue during the last twenty years? In fact, the only pleasant comment I have heard on the Plan is the advice to use Dr. Beeching's face cream because it removes all lines" (Lord Stonham in House of Lords Debates 02 May 1963 vol 249 c331).

[1.] Harvey, Edward, Pavage grants and urban street paving in medieval England, 1249-1462, Journal of Transport History, Volume 31 (2), Number 2, December 2010 , pp. 151-163


We hold a range of maps and atlases covering a variety of periods and places. Examples include the Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch United East India Company) and Map of the railways proposed by the bills of the session of 1863 in the [London] metropolis & its vicinity. The collection also includes some topographical drawings which often have illustrations of bridges, boats and other transport features. There are also some bound atlases, such as:

Trade Directories

Trade directories contain transport information in the form of advertisements, descriptions of localities and listings of coaching routes, ship times etc. We hold a range covering London and the British regions with particularly strong holdings for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Guides and Transport Directories


← Two guides describing and illustrating the roads of Britain: The English travellers companion: or a ready and sure guide from London to any of the principal cities and towns in England and Wales (1676) and The imperial guide with picturesque plans of the great post roads.. (1802)


Yearbooks such as Whitaker's almanack (held from 1870 onwards) and The Annual Register (1758 onwards) contain a contemporary digest of the year's events. They include, for example, summaries of railway openings, description of the Titanic shipping disaster and the subsequent inquiries (Annual Register, 1912, p.85) and a discussion of the Beeching Report (Annual Register, 1963, p.12-3). Although these are the longest runs held, we also have miscellaneous other editions of almanacs covering, for example, India and Canada.

Secondary works


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.


For history theses across other universities, see History Online. See further information on theses holdings at the IHR library.

Electronic resources

A full list of our electronic resources is available at Below are a few examples of resources that could be useful for this subject (most are available onsite in the IHR or via subscription only):

Other relevant libraries/institutions

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