History 3411 Modern Britain Finding Primary Sources

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2012 History 3411 – Primary Sources

History 3411 - Modern Britain
Finding Primary Sources

  1. Use the Shared Library Catalogue - http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca

  1. Add subject headings to your keyword search

You can locate primary sources through the catalogue by doing a keyword search and then adding one of the special subject terms to your search

  • Correspondence

  • Diaries

  • Interviews

  • Personal Narratives

  • Sources

For example: history AND victorian AND britain AND sources
(britain or england) AND women AND diaries

  1. Browse subject headings

You can browse the library catalogue`s holdings by searching for specific subject headings. Here are some subject headings to start with:

  • Great Britain -- History -- 18th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- History -- 19th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- History -- 20th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- Social Conditions -- 18th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- Social Conditions -- 19th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- Social Conditions -- 20th Century -- Sources

  • Great Britain -- Economic Conditions -- 17th Century – Sources

  • Great Britain -- Statistics

  • etc...

  1. Look up specific historical figures

If you know of a specific person or organization from the time period you`re concerned with, look under that person as an author or as a subject heading to see if we have memoirs, diaries, or correspondence

You can also look for organizations as an author or a subject heading (i.e. “great britain parliament”).

  1. Search for Government Documents on the web

  1. British National Archives - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    The British Government’s national archive for England, Wales, and the United Kingdom, with over 1,000 years of the nation’s records. Choose the “Documents Online” Quicklink to limit only to items available through this website.

  1. Legislation.gov.uk - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
    Government documents available as far back as 1200.

  2. Parliament.uk - http://www.parliament.uk/
    Hansard (debates), Bills and Resolutions, Business Reports, Committee Reports, and other government documents for the House of Lords and the House of Commons for more current governments.

  3. Parliament.uk Archives - http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/parliamentary-archives/archives-electronic/
    Digital archives of publically accessible material, including debates, proceedings (from 1200) and Parliamentary Papers (from 1714).

  4. UK National Statistics - http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/index.html
    For recent statistics over the past few decades (population, economics, etc).

  1. Databases through Western Libraries – All dates
    (Available through www.lib.uwo.ca/databases except where indicated)

  1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b4723820

An illustrated collection of more than 57,000 specially written biographies of the men and women from around the world who shaped all aspects of Britain's past.

  1. Defining Gender, 1450-1910

A collection of over 50,000 images from original documents relating to Gender Studies.

  1. Empire Online, 1492-1969

This database offers 60,000 images of original documents linked to essays by leading scholars in the field of (British) Empire Studies.

  1. The Times Digital Archive (1785-1985)

The Times Digital Archive (London, England) is available from 1785-1985. It offers full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The complete newspaper is available, including all articles, advertisements and illustrations/photos. Search results can be limited by section or date.

  1. British and Irish women's letters and diaries: from 1500-1900
    Spans more than 400 years of personal writings, bringing together the voices of women from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

  1. In the First Person

In the First Person is a free, high quality, professionally published, in-depth index of close to 4,000 collections of personal narratives in English from around the world, including diaries, letters and more.

  1. Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice

This resource is designed as a portal for slavery and abolition studies, and brings together documents and collections covering the time period 1490-2007, drawn from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world. The collection documents key aspects of the history of slavery worldwide, including the African Coast, the Middle Passage, varieties of slave experience, religion, revolts, abolition, and legislation.

  1. Databases through Western Libraries – 1688-1800
    (Available through www.lib.uwo.ca/databases except where indicated)

  1. Early English Books Online - up to 1700

Early English Books Online (EEBO) is a major research collection providing images of over 100,000 imprints from 1475 to 1700. Publications in English and foreign languages printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, British America are included, plus English books printed in other countries from 1641-1700.

  1. Eighteenth Century Collections Online – 1701-1800

A comprehensive full-text, full-image archive of approximately 150,000 titles consisting of books, pamphlets, broadsides and ephemera printed in the United Kingdom and the Americas between 1701 and 1800.

  1. Eighteenth Century Journals: A Portal to Newspapers and Periodicals, c1685-1815

The Eighteenth Century Journals Portal consists of rare newspapers and journals illuminating all aspects of 18th-century social, political and literary life. Many materials are ephemeral, lasting only for a handful of issues, while others run for several years. Together, they offer effective coverage of the important issues of the period, and are invaluable to the study of all aspects of the eighteenth century, including crime, sport, advertising, the theatre; fashion; politics, revolution ; agriculture ; social issues and society life.

  1. Electronic Enlightenment (18C Philosophers and Writers)

This database offers online access to the web of correspondence between the greatest thinkers and writers of the long 18th century and their families and friends, bankers and booksellers, patrons and publishers. Coverage includes letters and document sources, such as manuscripts and early printed editions, scholarly annotations, as well as links to biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, and other online resources.

  1. Databases through Western Libraries - 1801to Present

  1. Confidential Print: North American, 1824-1961: Canada, The Caribbean, and the USA - http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b4761536

The Confident Print Series originated out of a need for the [British] Government to preserve all of the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. This section covers a broad sweep of history, from c.1824-1961, taking in the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America.

  1. London Low Life: Street Culture, Social Reform, and the Victorian Underworld (19C to early 20C) - http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b4809161

This full-text online resource is published by Adam Matthew Digital, and contains colour digital images of rare books, ephemera, maps and other materials relating to the 19th and early 20th century London.

  1. Victorian Database
    This multidisciplinary database comprises over 100,000 records listing books, articles, and dissertation abstracts published from 1945 to 1999 on every field of nineteenth-century British studies. Of interest for research in communication studies, the humanities, public affairs/policy, popular science, the social sciences, women's studies, and as a source of book reviews.

  1. Victorian Popular Culture
    The Victorian Popular Culture Portal is comprised of three separate sections: Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic; Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks; Music Hall and Popular Entertainment.

  1. Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900
    The vast majority of articles written for Victorian periodicals were published anonymously, or under pseudonyms. The Wellesley Index identifies the authors of articles within 45 important monthly and quarterly Victorian periodical titles, and provides a bibliography for each contributor. The Wellesley Index covers the period from the beginning of the Westminster Review in 1824 to the end of the 19th century, the sole exception being the Edinburgh Review, which is indexed in the first issue in 1802. Coverage: 1824-1900.

  1. 19th Century Masterfile (Books, newspapers, periodicals)

Indexes nineteenth century literature, including newspapers, periodicals, books, and government publications.

  1. Academic Research as Primary Resource – Specific Topics

  1. Historical Abstracts

Provides abstracts to dissertations and scholarly articles and books on world history from 1450 to the present. (Except the United States and Canada which is covered in AMERICA, HISTORY AND LIFE.) Coverage includes all branches of world history: political; diplomatic; military; economic; social; cultural; religious; and intellectual. The database also covers the history of science, technology, and medicine.

  1. JSTOR
    Provides access to full text, full image scholarly literatureacross all disciplines.  Contains archival holdings of major research journals, including 177 History-related publications.

  1. Other web resources

  1. BBC Archive - http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/
    Online archive of BBC (British Broadcasting Company) material. Collections include traditional broadcasting and performing arts as well as finance, industry, health, science, family, and politics. The “People” search will link you directly to available primary content for that individual.

  1. British History Online - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/Default.aspx

Built by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, British History Online is a digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Includes links to maps, taxation records, wills and more.
For more information, see:

Heather Campbell

Library Instruction Coordinator

Beryl Ivey Library, Brescia University College


Adapted for Brescia University College from: Modern Britain, History 329 by Elizabeth Gibson, Queen`s University


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