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British History Online

British History Online is a digital library of printed primary and secondary sources for the study of Britain and Ireland, with a focus on the period 1300 to 1800.

About British History Online

British History Online (BHO) is the IHR's digital library of printed primary and secondary sources for the study of British and Irish history, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800. BHO also covers the history of the British empire and Britons in transnational perspective.

British History Online:

  • is a key resource for the study, research and teaching of British and Irish history, with regular additions of new content

  • provides over 1100 volumes of primary and secondary content, free without charge

  • offers access to a further 200 volumes of key research materials via institutional and individual subscriptions to BHO Premium. BHO Premium also provides access to high-quality page scans of 200 volumes of content

  • is a digitisation project and store of the highest quality: all works are double re-keyed to ensure 99.99% transcription accuracy

  • provides a sustainable platform for the publication and preservation of digitised print and born-digital content, particularly derived from recent research projects

New on BHO: Patent Rolls for Henry III and Edward I

Calendars of the Patent Rolls for the reigns of Henry III, Edward I and Edward II, providing records of public government correspondence.

What's the value of the Patent Rolls on BHO?

The Patent Rolls now added to BHO cover the public correspondence of English medieval government. Here's how historians engage with this valuable record.

British History Online in numbers

BHO offers a wide range of resources for the study, research and teaching of British and Irish history, and British history worldwide.

  • 1300 : primary and secondary volumes
  • 10,000 : historic map tiles of the British Isles
  • 99.99% : transcription accuracy rate
  • 500-1999 : date range of coverage

What's available in British History Online?

Primary sources: including the journals of the House of Commons and House of Lords (1509-1832), and 42 volumes of primary content published by the London Record Society.

Secondary sources: including 60 volumes from the Survey of London and 175 volumes of the Victoria County History.

Maps: 10,000 map tiles, including the 19th-century series of the Ordnance Survey, searchable by keyword, title or postcode.

Guides and calendars: detailed records of key governmental records, including the Calendars of State Papers, domestic, foreign and colonial.

Research datasets: born-digital records created by specialists, including the Hearth Tax returns for Restoration London.

Victoria County History volumes: digital editions of 170 published volumes of the VCH, covering 35 English counties -- from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire. 

Full list of all VCH volumes, listed by county, is available here.

VCH content on British History Online can be browsed or searched by date, region and theme. Individual VCH volumes are also text searchable.


BHO's 1300 volumes include c.40,000 historical images: these range from architectural drawings, plans and topographical artwork to hand-drawn maps and historical and contemporary photographs.

This sample volume -- VCH, Oxfordshire (vol. 18) -- includes a range of images of the kind found throughout British History Online.

Subject guides provide advice on using BHO for biographical, urban, religious, local and parliamentary history.


What more is available with BHO Premium?

BHO Premium provides access to 200 additional volumes of content, including:

  • Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1547-1704
  • Calendars of State Papers, Scotland and Ireland, 1547-1606
  • Calendars of Close Rolls and Patent Rolls, 1244-1509
  • Calendars of Home Office papers for George III
  • Parliament Rolls of Medieval England

Calendars provide very detailed summaries of the original manuscript archive. A sample CSP volume is available: the Domestic Papers for James I, 1603-1610.

BHO Premium provides access to page scans of 200 volumes contained within British History Online. Page scans include all volumes in the following, and other, series:

  • Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1547-1707
  • Calendars of State Papers, Scotland and Ireland, 1547-1606
  • Calendars of Close Rolls, 1244-1509
  • Calendars of State Papers, Foreign, 1547-1589, covering the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, and reports of the Armada invasion attempt

A sample of BHO page scans is available: the Domestic Papers for James I, 1603-1610 (November 1605, covering government reports on the Gunpowder Plot).

Contact British History Online

Please get in touch if you're interested in subscribing, or adding print or born digital content, to BHO.

For subscription & submission information, contact the BHO editorial team

Meet BHO's Editor

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