About Victoria County History
Beginning in 1899, the Victoria County History is one of the world's longest running research projects.
What is Victoria County History?
The Victoria County History (known as the VCH) was founded in 1899 with the goal to produce a history of every parish in England. Work began almost immediately in 34 counties, and volumes (still known as 'big red books') appeared regularly from 1900. The First World War brought all work to a halt. From 1923, the General Editor, William Page, was able to publish a handful of volumes, mostly written before the First World War. He secured the future of the VCH in 1932 when he offered it to the University of London as a research project to be run out of the Institute of Historical Research. The VCH Central Office has remained in the IHR ever since.
In the last 120 years the VCH has:
- Produced over 6,300 individual parish histories
- Published nearly 300 'big red books'
The VCH is now:
- Active in 18 counties
- Offers much of its work available free, open-access on British History Online
Work continues with the big red books being published alongside the VCH Shorts series. The VCH Shorts offer a range of concise and individual parish histories, from both rural and urban areas, and are all published digitally and in paperback.
In recent years, new initiatives have been taken in several counties where little or no work had taken place for many decades, and the widespread interest in local and family history means that the VCH continues to play a vital part in the promotion of English local history.