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Subject guides: History

History section

Printed collections in UCL Library are described below. There is also information about:

Printed collections

The History Library is to be found on the 2nd floor of the Main Library in the Wilkins building. It contains the collections on medieval and modern history (with principal emphasis on Britain and Europe), London, American and Latin American History. The Ancient History collection is on the first floor, while Nordic history forms part of the Scandinavian Studies collection at the north end of the Main Library. Other collections which may be relevant include Jewish Studies, Public Policy and International Relations (2nd floor Main Library); Economics, Law, Art (1st floor Main Library); Geography, Anthropology and History of Science (Science Library); Environmental Studies (Bartlett); Institute of Archaeology Library; and SSEES Library. UCL also has an extensive manuscript and rare book collection - for further details please see the Special Collections web pages.

See separate pages for opening hours.

Book collections
Books in the main open-access sequence are in rooms off the History Library corridor. Copies of the classification schemes by which books are arranged on the shelves are kept in the History Reference Room and at the Enquiry Desk. Published indexes to some of the main series are available, and include for example the Parliamentary Papers (covering 1735-1850), publications of the Public Record Office, The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, and many record societies. The History Library's strengths include the American (n.b. not Canadian) and Latin American collections - the latter includes works on the non-Hispanic Caribbean. The London History collection, housed in a separate room with its own classification scheme, contains secondary material concerning the Greater London area, including maps and a large pamphlet collection.

The general History Periodicals are in the corridor, as are the series relating to London History. Current issues of the general History periodicals are displayed in the London History Room. American, Latin American and London History periodicals, including current parts, are shelved with books for each of these subjects. For electronic journals, see below.

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Electronic collections

Electronic sources

Material held in electronic form is available to registered members of UCL. When off-campus, you will be prompted for your user ID and password in order to gain access to them. For the full list of electronic databases presently available please consult the Databases web pages.

Explore allows you to search for material within a single resource or across a range of resources simultaneously and get instant access to the online full-text material we subscribe to. However, databases should be used for conducting comprehensive research.

Some of the Databases we subsribe to of particular interest to those studying history include:


  • Bibliography of British and Irish History Index to literature on British and Irish history from the Roman period to the present day. Formerly known as Royal Historical Society Bibliography.
  • Cambridge Histories Online A collection of over 300 e-books published since 1960.
  • Cecil Papers The Cecil Papers are a privately held archive of approximately 30,000 16th and 17th century manuscripts, consisting principally of the correspondence of William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598) and his son Robert, the 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612).
  • Colonial State Papers Colonial State Papers provides access to thousands of papers concerning English activities in the American, Canadian and West Indian colonies between the 16th and 18th centuries.
  • Documents on British Policy Overseas This collection gathers together tens of thousands of UK Government documents relating to Britain’s international relations, including foreign policy instructions, letters and memos, business reports, and more.
  • Early English Books Online Digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700.
  • Early European Books Selected printed European works from before 1701, mostly in non-English European languages. Collections include materials from the Danish Royal Library, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, the National Library of the Netherlands, and The Wellcome Library, London.
  • Historical Abstracts complete reference guide to the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada - see America: History and Life).
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (18th-20th Century) Full text papers issued by the House of Commons between 1715-present, with supplementary material back to 1688. These are the working documents of government for all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy.
  • International Medieval Bibliography Index of literature on all subjects relating to the Middle Ages, within the date range 400-1500 AD. Geographical areas covered are Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
  • MIRABILE is the knowledge management system for study and research on medieval culture developed by the Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino and the Fondazione Ezio Franceschini ONLUS of Florence, in partnership with other institutions.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Illustrated collection of more than 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the 4th century BC to the present.
  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery. Part 3: The Institution of Slavery examines the institution of slavery through legal documents, plantation records, personal accounts, newspapers and government documents.
  • State Papers Online 3 million pages of 16th and 17th century British government documents.
  • Times Digital Archive a complete online edition of The Times (London) for the period of 1785-1985. For The Guardian (1959-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003), see: ProQuest Historical Newspapers

American History

Latin American History

  • Chicano Database Comprehensive bibliographic resource for information about Mexican-American topics and the only specialised database for Chicano reference.
  • Handbook of Latin American Studies Bibliography of materials selected and annotated by scholars, evaluating books, book chapters, articles, and conference proceedings published worldwide in the field of Latin American studies. Multilingual and multidisciplinary.
  • PRISMA with HAPI This database is a comprehensive reference resource providing hundreds of full-text scholarly journals with articles in the social sciences and humanities for the interdisciplinary academic study of Hispanic and Latin America and the Caribbean Basin.

Electronic journals

A large number of journals are available electronically to registered members of UCL. Explore (available via the Library website) is a new search facility for accessing print and electronic materials. Alternatively, view an alphabetical list of electronic journals which UCL members have access to and link through to the journals from here.

Exam papers

Copies of past exam papers for many History courses are available online and can also be searched for via Explore. Printed copies can be found in the Main Library.

Other Web resources

For links to other web-based material for History, try the following:

American Memory Digital archive of American history, consisting mainly of items from the Library of Congress collections.

British History Online Digital library of some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Covers administrative and legal, ecclesiastical and religious, economic, intellectual, scientific, cultural, local, parliamentary, urban and metropolitan history.

Connected Histories Cross-search of 11 major digital resources on British History for the period 1500-1900. Includes newspapers, images, maps, parliamentary papers and pamphlets.

Digital Resources for Research from the British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (BrANCA) links to online resources, archives and databases relevant to the study of nineteenth-century American writing.

History On-Line Maintained by the Institute of Historical Research "provides high-quality information resources for the teaching and learning of history."

Library of Congress Provides a gateway to many links of interest to the historian, including American Memory - a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.

London Lives A collection of primary sources about 18th century London (1690-1800), with a particular focus on plebeian Londoners. Includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives, supplemented by fifteen other datasets.

Making of America A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.

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Other libraries

The Royal Historical Society is on the same floor as the History Library; the open access part of the Society's library (mainly national and local record society publications) is in the History Series Room.

Senate House Library all UCL members can join, borrow books and access online resources remotely.
LSE (British Library of Economic and Political Science) reference access only for taught postgraduates; borrowing for academic staff and research postgraduates.
SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) a special arrangement allows UCL members to borrow books.
British Library

For more information about the history collections of other libraries in London, please see: History Libraries & Collections.

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Contact details

If you have any problems in using the Library, come to the Enquiry Desk, or contact the Subject Librarian for Economics, Political Science & History:

Kieron Jones
Email: kieron.jones@ucl.ac.uk
Telephone: internal: 33078; external: 020 7679 3078

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Last modified 8 December 2005

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