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British and Irish Studies: Primary Sources

External Links

Online (Duke users only)

  •  Primary Sources Database List
    Complete list of online primary sources (Duke users only.)
  • 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers
    full-text access to the British Library's collection of the newspapers, pamphlets, and books gathered by Reverend Charles Burney (1757-1817).
  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers
    Includes local and regional newspapers.
  • 19th Century British Pamphlets
    Collection of over 20,000 digitised significant British pamphlets created by Research Libraries UK. Provides primary sources with which to study the socio-political and economic landscape of 19th century Britain.
  • 19th Century UK Periodicals
    Duke subscribes to:
    Series One: New Readerships: Women’s, Children’s, Humour and Leisure/Sport
    Series Two: Empire: Travel and Anthropology, Economics, Missionary and Colonial. periodicals from Australia, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • Annual Register
    The Annual Register is a year-by-year record of British and world events, published annually since 1758.
  • British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries
    includes approximately 100,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals writing from 1500 to 1900.
  • British History Online
    Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
  • British online archives
    digitized copies of archives held in Britain, with a detailed finding aid for each archive held.
  • British Periodicals
    provides access to the searchable full text of hundreds of periodicals from the late 17th century to the early 20th century
  • Colonial State Papers  
     provides access to thousands of papers concerning English activities in the American, Canadian, and West Indian colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries..
  • Documents on British policy overseas [electronic resource] : diplomacy in the twentieth century.
    a fully searchable collection of primary source documents from Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, shedding light on diplomatic history throughout the twentieth century.
  •  Early English Books Online (EEBO)
    Describes English or English-language letterpress materials published before 1801, including books, lists, advertisements, rules, songs, election propaganda, and other ephemeral items. Contains records for items of all types published in Great Britain or its colonies or in English from 1473 to 1800.
  • Economist Historical Archive 1843-2006
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
  • Nearly 150,000 English-language titles and editions published between 1701 and 1800 are included.
  • Eighteenth Century Journals II
    Journals from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center collection of 17th and 18th century newspapers and periodicals
  • Empire Online
     British Empire full-text documents from the 15th century to the 20th century.
  • Guardian and The Observer
    The Guardian (1821-2003) and its sister paper, The Observer (1791-2003) provide online access to facts, firsthand accounts, and opinions of the day about the most significant and fascinating political, business, sports, literary, and entertainment
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
    Full text of the Sessional Papers from 1801 to the present.
  • India, Raj and Empire
    provides documents from the manuscript collections of the National Library of Scotland pertaining to the History of South Asia between the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 and the granting of independence to India.
  • Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842-2003
    online access to the entire run of the ILN from its first publication on 14 May 1842 to its last in 2003.
  • Listener Historical Archive, 1929-1991
    The Listener Historical Archive, 1929-1991 features the complete 62-year run of The Listener, established by the BBC in 1929 as the medium for reproducing radio and later, television programmes in print.
  • London Low Life  
    provides colour digital images of rare books, ephemera, maps and other materials relating to 19th and early 20th century London.
  • Making of the Modern World
    Provides full-text and full-page-image access to books from the 1460-1850 period, and pre-1906 serials. It focuses on economics interpreted in the widest sense, including political science, history, sociology, and special collections on banking, finance, transportation and manufacturing. It combines the strengths of two pre-eminent collections--the Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature at the University of London Library and the Kress Library of Business and Economics at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration--along with supplementary materials from the Seligman Collection in the Butler Library at Columbia University and from the libraries of Yale University.
  • Mass Observation Online  A  database of Survey information 1937-1972.  Mass Observation Online makes available original manuscript and typescript papers created and collected by the Mass Observation organisation, as well as printed publications, photographs and interactive features. A pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves', and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. This resource covers the original Mass Observation project, the bulk of which was carried out from 1937 until the mid-1950s, offering an unparalleled insight into everyday life in Britain during these transformative years.
  • Medieval family life [electronic resource] : the Paston, Cely, Plumpton, Stonor and Armburgh papers
    images of the original medieval manuscripts that make up selected family collections, with access to full text searchable transcripts of many of these manuscripts.
  • Northern Ireland. A Divided Community 1921-1972
    Offers full-text searching of facsimile images of the complete record of the Stormont Administration in Northern Ireland, 1921-1972 (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland reference CAB/4) from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
  • Parliament Rolls of Medieval England 1275-1504
    Provides fulltext access to the Rolls of Parliament (Rotuli Parliamentorum), with full translations
  • Periodicals Index Online
    Indexes periodicals from their first issues to 1995.   Now contains hundreds of full-text periodicals.
  • Picture Post Historical Archive
    The Picture Post Historical Archive comprises the complete archive of the Picture Post from its first issue in 1938 to its last in 1957 - all digitized from originals in full colour.Picture Post was the British equivalent of Life Magazine.
  • Sabin Americana
    contains works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's.
  • Slavery, Abolition, and Social Justice, 1490-2007
    documents key aspects of the history of slavery worldwide over six centuries.
  • State Papers Online: the Government of Britain, 1509-1714.
    a collection of English government documents originating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--when the King or Queen acted as Prime Minister as well as Monarch. The papers feature the office archives and correspondence of the secretaries of state serving the Monarch as facsimile manuscript documents accessed directly or via the fully searchable Calendar entries (abstracts or transcriptions).
  • The Times Digital Archive
    Search The Times (London) from 1785-1985 in full-text; provides facsimile reproductions of full pages or specific articles.  HINT: search in full-text rather than keyword to get the best retrieval.
  • VIctorian Popular Culture
    Includes 3 sections: Circuses, sideshows and freaks, Spiritualism, sensation & magic, and Music hall, theatre and popular entertainment.
  • Women, war & society, 1914-1918
    From the Women at Work Collection at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Finding Primary Sources in the Catalog

Parish registers: Look in online catalog under:

Local record society publications: in catalog under:
COUNTY NAME, ENGLAND--HISTORY (e.g., Essex, England--History)

Primary sources:
Use SOURCES as sub-heading, eg:
Great Britain -- History – Civil War, 1642-1649 -- Sources
Use DIARIES as a sub-heading or keyword (or see Matthews, British Diaries, in Reference)

Other useful keywords:  Papers, correspondence, biography, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps,

Primary Sources in the Library

Rubenstein Rare Book, Manuscripts and Special Collections LIbrary
Includes many British manuscripts and books.   They are listed in the online catalog, but see also the Finding Aids for more details on the manuscript collections.


Record Society Publications: See online catalog
Indexed in Bibliography of British and Irish History

English Historical Documents.
  Perkins/Bostock Library | Stacks  | DA26 .E555 1953 

Calendars of State Papers Domestic and Foreign: Check the online catalog also full text at British History Online.

British documents on foreign affairs--reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print
  JZ632.B747  (see online catalog for details.)

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Documents on British foreign policy, 1919-1939. London, H.M. Stationery Off., 1946-1985
DA566.7 .A18 1946

 Documents on British policy overseas DA588 .D63 1984