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Early modern history (British & W European c. 1500-c. 1800): English sources

Elizabeth I portrait

The "Darnley Portrait" of Elizabeth I of England. c 1575.

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Key resources

Parliamentary & government sources, calendars, chronicles, etc.

Acts of the Privy Council of England : new series / edited by John Roche Dasent. 46v. London, 1890-1964

Tudor Royal Proclamations / edited by Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin. 3 vols. New Haven, 1964-1969

Stuart royal proclamations / edited by James F. Larkin and Paul L. Hughes. 2 vols. Oxford, 1973

[See also the Parliamentary Guide.]

Economic and social history sources

Tudor economic documents : being select documents illustrating the economic and social history of Tudor England / edited by R.H. Tawney and Eileen Power.3 vols. London, 1924

Papers of individuals (selections)

King James VI and I, Political writings / edited by Johann P. Sommerville. Cambridge, 1994

Thurloe State Papers, ed. T. Birch (1742). Available online via ECCO.

T. Carlyle, Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, eds. S. C. Lomas. 3 vols. (London, 1904).

The diary of Samuel Pepys : a new and complete transcription / edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews. 11 vols. London, 1970-1983

The diary of John Evelyn : now printed in full from the manuscripts belonging to Mr. John Evelyn / ed. by E.S. de Beer. 6 vols. Oxford, 2000

The entring book of Roger Morrice, 1677-1691 / [Mark Goldie, general editor]. 6 vols. Woodbridge, 2007

Finding aids & catalogues

Bodleian Library:

  • Quarto catalogues [SpColl RR R.Ref.722]
  • Online Catalogue of Western Manuscripts
  • A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series. 7 vols. (Oxford, 1895-1953)  [SpColl RR X.Cat.1]

British Library

Cambridge University Library: Janus: manuscript online catalogue

Catalogues of manuscripts of other libraries (e.g. Bibliothèque Nationale, Folger, etc.) [Weston Library: R.Cat.]

National inventory of documentary sources in the UK & Ireland (NIDS) [microfiches]. (Chadwyck-Healey, 1984). [Search SOLO.] NIDS is a major national reference work that reproduces on microfiche the finding aids to thousands of archive and manuscript collections in more than 120 libraries and record offices, museums and private collections throughout the UK and Ireland. Using NIDS, researchers in their own libraries can pinpoint the collections containing documents of interest to them thereby saving time and money and making visits to repositories much more rewarding. Furthermore, NIDS can also help users uncover neglected resources in collections which are often overlooked.

National Archives Discovery: includes searching National Register of Archives, Access to Archives, etc. NRA records contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history.

ARCHON. Directory includes contact details for record repositories in the United Kingdom and also for institutions elsewhere in the world which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives.

Archives Hub

List & Index Society (Series) [Check SOLO]. Some 240+ titles catalogued separately in SOLO. Aims to provide photographic copies of unprinted lists and indexes kept in the Public Record Office, London, and of other unprinted guides and aids to the use of public archives in the British Isles. Publications include lists, texts, editions and tabulations of historical manuscripts. Also continues publication of some of the key series of government documents, notably the Calendar of Patent Rolls. It is currently publishing transcripts of the medieval customs accounts and calendars of such little known but key series as HO 47, Judges’ Reports on Criminals 1783 to 1830. Recent publications include medieval royal witness lists and itineraries, and gazetteers of early Tudor taxation and medieval markets and fairs. Index of publications available online.

ArchiveGrid. ArchiveGrid is an important destination for searching through historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in archives around the world. Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies.

Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts: Guide to Reports [URR K3.550]. Includes Index of Places and Index of Persons. In its earlier days its work consisted in surveying and publishing reports on collections mainly in private hands - those of individuals, families, estates, corporations and other bodies. These reports, published as parliamentary papers, were supplemented from 1885 by a series of octavo calendars, such as those of the Cecil papers at Hatfield House or the records of the House of Lords. These reports and calendars, together with their published indexes, are, despite their fairly obvious limitations and deficiencies, still in regular and frequent use by historians, and particularly by political historians of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.