A London Provisioner’s Chronicle, 1550-1563
Searchable scholarly edition of this diary of a turbulent period in British history, as seen by a London merchant.
America’s Historical Documents
Digitised versions of original manuscripts belonging to the Federal Government. Ranges from obvious candidates such as the Declaration of Independence, to lesser-known treasures – see Elvis Presley’s letter to the President.
Anglo-American Legal Tradition
Legal documents from medieval and early modern England. From the UK National Archives
Particularly valuable for its attractive and easily navigable ‘read online’ format, which provides a similar experience to reading a ‘real’ book. Otherwise downloadable in Kindle, PDF, full text and EPUB formats. Features a range of genres, expanding beyond the usual selection of out-of-copyright classic literature.
Art History Resources
Large collection of artworks, meticulously organised by country/culture of origin, date, artist and themes.
Artstor (subscription only)
Despite the challenge of rapidly expanding Google Art Project (see above), Artstor remains a good place to browse thousands of images in high detail.
An eclectic range of collections. As well as the usual section on Western art, there are collections specialising in timepieces, brass rubbings, silverware and finger rings.
Maintained by the Yale Law School, here you will find documents focusing on law and diplomacy from 4000 BC to the present.
Giving an insight into French popular culture from the 17th- to mid-19th century, this website contains digitised copies of texts ranging from the practical (recipes, almanacs, and how-to books) to the pious (hagiographies, prayer books, and other religious instruction), to the entertaining (fiction, romans de chevalerie, songbooks, burlesque).
– John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (subscription only outside the UK)
– Early Manuscripts at Oxford University
– Early Modern Letters Online
– Amazing collection of digitised Images from the Bodleian Libraries Special Collections
British History Online
Very extensive range of primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain from the 11th to 19th centuries. Searchable by region and century. Primary sources include maps, gazetteers and dictionaries, legal and judicial sources, ecclesiastical sources, maritime and port records, chronicles and diaries, personal and biographical sources, taxation records, parliamentary and political sources, records of urban government, and records of professional groups.
Search the collections of the British Library for maps, images, books, datasets, sounds and printed music.
Over 2,000,000 records of objects in the British Museum collections, most of which have images. Features objects from all around the world, dating back to prehistoric times.
British Printed Images to 1700
Thousands of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain in fully-searchable form.
Carlyle Letters Online
A unique perspective on the 19th-century, through the words of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. You can browse over 10,000 of their collected letters, which feature some of the most influential artistic, philosophical, and literary personalities of the day.
Cause Papers in the Diocesan Courts of the Archbishopric of York, 1300-1858
Searchable catalogue of more than 14,000 cause papers relating to cases heard between 1300 and 1858 in the Church Courts of the diocese of York.
Charles Booth Archive
Provides access to guides, digitised images and maps from the Booth archive collections at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of London Library.
City and Region
A database of urban and agricultural rent in England, 1400-19
City of London Library & Art Gallery
Prints, paintings and photographs relating to the history of London. 130,000 images currently available.
Clergy of the Church of England Database (1540-1835)
Searchable collection of records covering three hundred years of Anglican clergymen.
Convict Transportation Registers Database
Information on more than 123,000 of the 160,000 convicts transported to Australia between 1787 and 1867 . From the UK National Archives.
This amazing tool from the UK National Archives enables you to convert the value of historical money to current value, and to find out the buying power of any sum throughout the ages.
Database of Court Officers 1660-1837
This lists all office holders at the English court from the Restoration to the accession of Queen Victoria. The people range from members of the Privy Chamber, to musicians, to servants, to keepers of the royal wardrobe. Includes contextual detail explaining the various Court offices and their history.
Deviance, disorder and the self
Archive of primary sources illuminating 19th centuries theories of, and attitudes to, social deviance, mental illness and sexual disorder.Supported by Keele University, Queen Mary and Birkbeck College, University of London.
Digitised map of Regency London
This brilliant interactive map matches the 104 hand-coloured aquatints from Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-10) to the locations which they depict. Locations include theatres, pleasure gardens, courts, prisons, hospitals and docks, to name but a few.
Digitised travel accounts from late medieval and early modern Europe
Documenting the American South
Access to text, visual and audio files documenting the history of the American South. Sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Early Eighteenth Century Newspaper Reports
Selection of articles from early 18th century newspapers. Topics cover: crime, popular amusements, love/marriage, bills of mortality, health/beauty/quack medicine advertisements, daily life, science, politics, religion and popular literature.
Early English Books Online (subscription only)
EEBO has fascismiles of more than 125,000 texts spanning the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. I find the navigation system rather clunky, but it’s the still the place to go for digitised early modern English books.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online
This is a very welcome collection of 25,000 early modern English books which are otherwise only to be found in archives and on the subscription-only resource Early English Books Online. Topics range from Christianity to brewing, from fiction to politics, from women’s education to satire.
Eighteenth Century English Vocabulary
A great dictionary of words used in 18th-century England which have since been forgotten or whose meanings have changed.
60,000 documents of edited correspondence from the 17th-19th centuries, linking over 8000 people across Europe, the Americas and Asia. Letters discuss everything from religious tolerance to animal rights, vulcanology to classical archaeology, economic modelling to celebrity culture. Maintained by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.
English Broadside Ballad Archive
A collection of almost 6,000 17th century English broadside ballads. Digital facsimiles of the original manuscripts. Maintained by the English Department of the University of California-Santa Barbara.
Eurodocs: Online sources for European history
Selection of primary sources covering most European countries, further filtered by era and specific topics. There is an extremely wide range of documents here, but it’s hard to predict what you will find. Perhaps a better site for coming across unexpected jewels whilst browsing, than for undertaking systematic research.
Searchable database of various European newspapers from 1618 to the present.
Gale Digital Collections (subscription only)
A fantastic resource. There are far too many collections to list individually; suffice it to say that there is an enormous range of primary sources covering global history since c.1100. If you are lucky enough to have access to the Gale Collections, do make use of them!
Series of long, detailed essays on various aspects of criminal life in Georgian England.
Ghetty Research Institute
Digitised manuscripts, books, prints and photos from the archives of the Ghetty Research Institute. Major collecting areas include: alchemy, festivals, orientalist photography, artists’ letters and sketchbooks.
Google Art Project
Over 40,000 high-resolution images of artworks ranging from oil-on-canvas to sculpture and furniture; constantly expanding.
Digitised texts from university and specialist libraries all over the world. Like archive.org, this is useful for access to old or rare texts which you can’t find on Project Gutenberg. Genres other than fiction are well represented, with travelogues, historiographies, advice manuals, pamphlets and so on. Texts are downloadable as PDF and EPUB files; alternatively, they are viewable online in an attractive format. Note: not all the texts which appear are available as free ebooks, but the majority are, especially those out of copyright.
Google Ngram Viewer
This tool scans an immense number of books to tell you whether a word was in use at a particular time, and can also show you the relative popularity of words over time.
Historic American newspapers
Search digitised newspapers from throughout America’s history.
History of Parliament
Range of introductory survey articles on the history of Parliament, divided into periods and themes. Also features historical illustrations depicting Parliament.
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (subscription only)
Over 200,000 House of Commons sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material dating back to 1688.
In Mozart’s words
Multilingual access to an annotated version of the voluminous correspondence of Mozart and his family – approximately 1,400 letters. Includes a database of all references to people, places and musical works contained in the letters, as well as access to background materials such as reviews, newspapers, documents, objects, paintings, engravings, and books.
Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Primary sources for the following categories: African history, East Asian history, Indian history, Islamic history, Jewish history, history of science, women’s history, and gay and lesbian history. Special collections include traveller’s accounts and legal history. Run by Fordham University.
Internet Library of Early Journals
A digital library of six 18th and 19th century journals: Gentleman’s Magazine (1731-1830), The Annual Register (1758-78), Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1757-77), Notes and Queries (1849-69), The Builder (1843-62), and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (1843-63). The project was set up by the universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Oxford.
JSTOR (subscription only)
Online collection which specialises in digitising the main humanities periodicals, usually covering all issues from the journal’s foundation to the most recent output.
Kyoto Costume Institute
This collection is relatively small, comprising only 200 objects, but each image is accompanied by a detailed description of the item and its historical context. The zoom function allows for breathtaking detail.
Lewis Walpole Library
This collection of digital images focuses on English caricatures and political satirical prints from the late-17th to mid-19th century. Also features a number of broadside ballads and 18th century playbills. Affiliated with Yale University.
Library of Congress
The LoC’s digital collections offer a huge range of print, pictorial and audio-visual resources, ranging from – to name just a few examples – historic American newspapers, to early sound recordings and photography, to the papers of famous individuals. (Note: do not confuse with the online library catalogue).
Locating London’s Past
Interactive map of 18th century London. Based on John Rocque’s 1746 map along with the first accurate Ordnance Survey map of London (1869-80), adjusted to a modern Google Maps environment. Records of crime, poor relief, taxation, elections, local administration, plague deaths and archaeological finds can all be searched and mapped on this site.
Aims to explore crime, poverty and social policy in London, 1690-1800, through the stories of individual Londoners. 240,000 searchable manuscripts give access to 3.35 million names. Data is sourced from criminal records, coroner’s records, parish archives and hospital and guild records, as well as other miscellaneous datasets.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Images of art and textiles from all over the world, spanning a wide historical period.
Annotated manuscript records of the English High Court of Admiralty from the 1650s and 1660s.
New Deal Network
Documents (articles, speeches, letters) and 5000 photographs related to the New Deal make up this collection.
New York Slavery Records
Over 35,000 searchable records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners in New York, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War. Compiled by students and professors at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NY.
Nineteenth Century Immigration Records to Britain
Searchable database of the records of thousands of 19th-century immigrants to Britain, covering the period 1801-1871. From the UK National Archives.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription only)
The ONDB is a series of biographical articles on just under 60,000 famous people who have shaped the history of the British Isles. The articles are very detailed and written by leading scholars.
Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford features archaeological and anthropological collections from all over the world. The online collection covers objects, manuscripts, photographs, sound and film.
Plymouth Colony Archive Project
Texts relating to life in Plymouth Colony (1620-1691), including court records, laws, journals and memoirs, probate inventories, wills, town plans, maps, and fort plans.
Over 45,000 ebooks available. You can view texts as html, or download in plain text, EPUB and Kindle formats. Main focus is on classic fiction.
Queen Victoria’s journals (subscription-only outside the UK)
Queen Victoria’s take on both politics and private life. Makes for a very interesting read.
Records of an English village, 1375-1854
Wide range of surviving records relating to the village of Earl’s Colne, Essex, including Ralph Josselin’s diary, court records, records of baptisms and burials, wills and inventories, maps, etc. Provides a great portrait of the life of rural England across the centuries.
Records of London’s Livery Companies Online
This site provides searchable records of apprentices and freemen in the City of London Livery Companies between 1400 and 1900.
Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707
Searchable database containing the proceedings of the Scottish parliament from the first surviving act of 1235 to the union of 1707. Includes committee records and parliamentary minutes.
Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online
An archive of manuscript miscellanies and commonplace books from c. 1450-1720. Run by the University of Cambridge.
Texts from early modern philosophy
Fairly wide range of texts by major European philosophers from the 15th-19th centuries. Texts have been modified slightly: overly convoluted syntax has been simplified, glossaries of archaic words are provided, points are numbered, and so on. The philosophical ideas remain unchanged, however, and modifications are duly noted and explained. Links are provided to original copies of the texts. Now maintained by two academics at Hertford College, Oxford.
The art world in Britain, 1660-1735
Diverse range of primary sources providing an in-depth insight into the art world in late 17th- and early 18th-century Britain. Searchable by places, people, and art sales.
The London Magazine
Digitised issues of this English periodical covering the period 1732-1904.
The London Stage (1660-1800)
Cast lists, box-receipts and a calendar of plays and other entertainments, compiled from the playbills, newspapers and theatrical diaries of the period.
The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives 1960 – 1974 (subscription only)
Brings the 1960s in America alive through diaries, letters, autobiographies and other memoirs, written and oral histories, manifestos, government documents, memorabilia, and scholarly commentary.
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
Information on almost 36,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.
UK Reading Experience Database
This truly astounding database explores the experience of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. It captures the reading tastes and habits of the famous and the ordinary, the young and the old, men and women. The texts range from books and newspapers to ephemera such as playbills and tickets, and from illuminated manuscripts, novels and poetry to tombstone inscriptions and graffiti. The advanced search function offers numerous filters for the readers of texts (name, gender, age, socioeconomic group, location, occupation and religion), the texts being read (genre, author, title and provenance) and other filters such as time and place of reading experience.
The Vatican Library’s online offering is split into five collections: manuscripts, coins and medals, incunabula, graphic materials and art objects, and printed books.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Images of over a million objects and 500,000 art and design related images.
Houses themed collections of short essays, with images, on many aspects of Victorian life and culture.
Find out what day of the week it was, for any date in any year.
Who were the nuns?
Database of those women who entered the English convents in exile from the foundation of the first new house in Brussels in 1598 until 1800, containing information about 3,900 nuns who entered 23 convents and the Mary Ward Institute during this period.
Wikipedia illuminated manuscripts
Fairly wide selection of images from (mostly medieval) illuminated manuscripts. Useful if you need to find an image quickly, as the collection is very clearly organised by subject, century and country.
Very good specialist source for researching witchcraft in early modern England. Contains interactive graphs, statistics and trial records searchable by theme, location and so on.