Modern British History Web Resources
Below are links to some of the best free online sources for modern British history. If you become a student at Lancaster, you will have access to a whole host of subscription sites, including: Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, Nineteenth-Century Newspapers, Nineteenth-Century Periodicals, The Times online (1785-1985), House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the Oxford English Dictionary online.
Newspapers and Magazines
- Internet Library of Early Journals - This has the full text of six journals from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - Annual Register, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Gentleman's Magazine, Notes and Queries, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and the Builder. Only partial runs for each, but useful nonetheless.
- Newspapers Online - A selection of historical newspapers from the British Library.
- The Word on the Street - Fantastic collection of c.1,800 'broadsides' - these were news sheets sold on street corners - this was how ordinary people got their news before newspapers became widely available and affordable. The collection runs from 1650 to 1910 and focuses on Scotland. It contains news stories on murders, politics, royalty, superstitions, etc. Very good source.
Visual Media Sources
- University of Kent Cartoon Database - A fully searchable archive of 120,000 cartoons from the nineteenth century to the present, particularly strong on cartoons since the 1930s. You can use these to research nearly any aspect of British life, from attitudes to politicians or political scandals to social issues like immigration or gender roles.
- British Pathé Newsreels Database - Here you can search for and watch the newsreels made by British Pathé and shown in cinemas between 1896 and 1970. Great source material for how the news was presented to the British public in these years.
- Movietone Newsreels Database - This holds Movietone's newsreels for 1929-79. Again, excellent primary source material.
- National Portrait Gallery Database - This site allows you to search thousands of portraits held by London's National Portrait Gallery. Useful for seeing how celebrities of past ages wanted to be viewed.
- Hansard Online - Here, you can search through speeches made by politicians in the UK Parliament between 1803 and 2005.
- The Stormont Papers - This gives you full-text access to all of the parliamentary debates of the devolved government of Northern Ireland from 1921 to 1972 (basically it's Hansard for Northern Ireland). 92,000 pages of fully searchable text.
Politics and Leaders
- Churchill Archives Centre - The 'Image Gallery' contains lots of useful digitised documents relating to Churchill's life - letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, etc.
- Churchill Speeches - Selected speeches of Winston Churchill.
- The "Special Relationship" - This site has many documents relating to the emergence of the Anglo-American alliance during WW2, including correspondence between Churchill and FDR.
- Margaret Thatcher Foundation - Contains a great archive for studying the history of this controversial PM.
- First World War Digital Archive - Provides access to visual and textual materials produced during the First World War.
- WW2 People's War - The BBC asked the public to contribute their memories of World War Two to a website between June 2003 and January 2006. This archive of 47,000 stories and 15,000 images is the result. The website allows you search through the personal testimonies by 64 different themes, such as 'Blitz', 'Prisoners of War', 'Home Guard', 'Rationing', and 'Dunkirk Evacuation'. This is a great source for researching the history of the war - both the military front and the home front.
- The Art of War - Site explores how various forms of art were used to boost the war effort in Britain between 1939 and 1945. Has really good sections on propaganda posters, and war films, containing lots of primary sources.
The UK and National Identity
- Icons: A Portrait of England - This gives an insight into what people understand by the concept of 'Englishness' today. It reveals how diverse national identity is these days.
- John Bull and Uncle Sam - An online exhibition containing lots of sources tracing the history of relations between Britain and America.
- Act of Union Virtual Library - A collection of pamphlets, newspapers, parliamentary papers and manuscript material contemporary with the 1800 Act of Union between Ireland and Britain. Particularly good for its collection of pamphlets on Anglo-Irish relations.
- Gathering the Jewels - Over 20,000 images of objects, books, letters, aerial photographs and other items tracing the social and cultural history of Wales.
- Views of the Famine - Collection of documents relating to how the Irish Famine of the 1840s was reported in the Irish and English press. Contains articles, illustrations and cartoons.
Poverty and Crime
- Old Bailey Online - This has the full accounts of nearly 200,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court, the Old Bailey, between 1674 and 1913. You can be really specific with your searches - by type of crime, by punishment, or by offender for example - to research how the state punishment particular kinds of crime in these years.
- The Workhouse - Useful site for finding out more about the history of the poor laws in Britain.
- Charles Booth Online Archive - Lots of primary materials relating to Booth's investigations into poverty in late nineteenth-century London. You can even browse and zoom into his original 'poverty maps' and find out where the 'vicious, semi-criminal' areas were.
- Hidden Lives Revealed - This site focuses on the period 1881-1918, and includes unique archive material about poor and disadvantaged children cared for by The Waifs and Strays' Society. Really good if you're interested in attitudes to children in this period, or in Victorian philanthropy.
- Dictionary of Victorian London - Contains extracts from hundreds of primary sources relating to London life in the nineteenth century.
- Humphrey Spender's Worktown - An archive of 900 photos of life in Bolton and Blackpool taken in 1937-8 for the Mass Observation project, set up to record ordinary people's lives. Gives a great insight into Lancashire life in between the wars.
- Greenwood's Map of London, 1827 - An interesting map of London from 1827
People, Population and Trade
- Census Online - You can search the data accumulated in the census between 1841 and 1901 here.
- Histpop - This provides online access to the complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1937. The collection goes far beyond the basic population reports with a wealth of textual and statistical material which provide an in-depth view of the economy, society (through births, deaths and marriages) and medicine during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Historical Trade Directories - Digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919.
Advertising and Consumerism
- Advert Museum - Contains over 1,500 advertisements culled from the British press from the 1890s through to the 1950s.
- Advertising Archives - Contains 50,000 British and American advertisements from the 1850s through to the present. Also features lots of ephemera - cinema posters, postcards, magazine covers, etc. You have to register to use all the features on the site, but it is free - you only have to give an email address.
- British Library Online Gallery- Allows you to search some of the British Library's holdings. There are collections on the development of London, regional accents and dialects, sheet music from the music hall era, and Victorian photographs, among others. Well worth a search.
- Treasures from the National Archives - Here you can look at a miscellaneous collection of primary sources held in the National Archives in Kew. Currently, among many other things, they have materials relating to Victorian fashions, Jack the Ripper, and Hitler's fake passport.
- LSE Collections - Transport and Social Policy - The London School of Economics has digitised some of its pamphlets from the c19th and early c20th on the themes of transport (canals, roads, railways, etc) and social policy (pensions, health, unemployment insurance, etc). These are hard to get hold of in the original, so it's a very useful source.
- Charles Darwin Online - This site contains Darwin's complete publications, thousands of handwritten manuscripts and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published.
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