Libraries and archives

University libraries and archives (see also )

The libraries of Oxford are rich in resources for the study of all periods of medieval and modern history. The holdings of the vast majority of Oxford libraries (Bodleian, Faculty libraries and college libraries) can be searched in SOLO ( which also includes electronic materials and provides access to your library account.

IT and copying, printing and scanning self-service is provided in all libraries (see

For an overview of History collections and services, see

The libraries of special interest for historians fall into four main categories.

(i) The Bodleian Library ( is the main University library, and one of the chief glories of the University. As a Legal Deposit Library it has long collected copies of most works published in the United Kingdom, in addition to an extensive range of foreign publications. Since it is not a lending library, its holdings are quickly available on request.

The Bodleian’s vast range of early printed books, medieval and modern manuscripts and specialised periodicals offer unique opportunities for historical research. Among the Bodleian’s dependent libraries devoted to particular branches of history are the Rhodes House Library ( (which specialises in British Empire / Commonwealth), the Vere Harmsworth Library, Rothermere American Institute ( (history and politics of the United States), the Radcliffe Science Library ( (history of the theoretical, biological, and physical sciences, medicine and technology), the Law Library ( (legal and constitutional history, criminology, Hansard series).

(ii) Faculty libraries. There is a good collection of historical works, journals and printed sources in the History Faculty Library  (HFL) ( with open access and many items available for borrowing. The Social Science Library ( is invaluable for the study of near-contemporary economic, political and international history, as also is the collection in the library of the Institute of Economics and Statistics. 

(iii) College libraries. Many of these are rich in both manuscripts and printed books, especially in the early modern period. For more recent periods the Codrington Library ( in All Souls College is strong in some branches, particularly military or diplomatic history; the library of Nuffield College ( has extensive materials for the study of modern political theory and institutions, economic and military history; St Antony’s College library (, with those of its various centres for area studies, offers resources for studying Russian and East European, Middle and Far Eastern, Latin American, Japanese and Indian history. Most of these collections are open to non-members of the college concerned, with the Librarian’s permission. There are also numerous libraries and archives some fifty miles away in London, such as the Public Records Office, the British Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science, and those of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Institute of Historical Research.

(iv) Specialised institutes and centres. - Many specialist study centres in Oxford organise seminars of interest to graduate students in History in their particular areas or fields, and their work is underpinned by their own collections which are usually accessible for graduate students in Modern History. Such centres comprise among others, the collection in the Museum of the History of Science on Broad Street (, the Taylor Institution ( (concerning the literature but also the history of European countries), the Ashmolean Museum ( and the adjacent Sackler Library ( ( books and materials on archaeology, ancient history and fine art), Pusey House library ( (church history), the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine (, the Department of the History of Art ( (Western art since the middle ages), the Maison Française ( (French history and literature), and the Oriental Institute ( Queen Elizabeth House library, housed in the Social Sciences Library (see above) has specialist collections on the recent history of developments in the 'Third World' and European agriculture. 

Some lending libraries outside the University

The Oxford Union Society (St Michael's Street) has a good library, open to members only (see It is fairly strong in literary works, and there are some useful runs of nineteenth-century periodicals and newspapers.

Oxford Central Public Library (Westgate) [] has little of historical relevance on its open shelves, but more can be ordered fairly quickly. There is, however, a special section for local history and genealogical research on its gallery floor [contact:].

Some other nearby libraries and archives

For libraries and archives in
Cambridge University Library:
Note especially their collection of the
Royal Commonwealth Society:

Electronic information resources

The University subscribes to a very large collection of electronic information resources, most of which can be accessed by university members anywhere in the world.

For a collection of links to public and subscription resources, see:

For off-site access for University members, see:

Links to specialist portals and web resources for history:

Intute catalogue of on-line humanities resources (formerly Humbul):

HFL Delicious bookmarks:

Electronic catalogues and collections maintained by the University for general use:

Oxford Text Archive (OTA)

Oxford Research Archive (ORA)

Of special practical interest to graduates may be:

List of
Teachers of History in the UK:
List of History
Theses in Progress (and recently completed):
Jobs in research, science, academic and related professions: