British History Online

British History Online image

The digital library of primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain, from the Middle Ages to c.1900.


Main URL


To date, British History Online has digitised more than 1,000 volumes, including such central resources as the Victoria County History of England, the Journals of the Houses of Commons and Lords and The National Archives' Calendars of State Papers (including the State Papers Domestic, Foreign and Colonial, the Treasury Books and Papers and the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII). The majority of this material is freely available, but there is an element of subscription content (principally the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, the Calendar of Close Rolls and the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England).

Please note that only primary sources which fall within the date range 1500-1900 have been included in Connected Histories; and the Victoria County History has also been omitted, as a secondary source.

Strengths and weaknesses

Sources such as the Calendars of State Papers and the Journals of the House of Commons and Lords naturally concentrate on state business, such as legal and diplomatic history, and this forms one of the main strengths of British History Online. A second area in which British History Online is particularly rich is local history, including much that covers urban history, and the history of London in particular. However there is less information on British History Online that deals directly with topics such as cultural history or social history.

Technical Methods

Texts on British History Online have been double-rekeyed by specialist data capture companies, to a minimum 99.95% accuracy (in practice higher accuracy rates are achieved), with a lightweight XML markup. Quality assurance of the keying and markup is carried out by editors at the Institute of Historical Research before it is published.

About the project

British History Online is a project of IHR Digital, part of the Institute of Historical Research in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Project partners are the Centre for Metropolitan History and the Victoria County History - both research centres of the Institute of Historical Research - and the History of Parliament, a major historical research project.


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Source Types

  • Parliamentary records
  • National government records
  • Local records
  • Maps/Images


  • Mixed (80% free and 20% subscription)

Time Period



University of London and History of Parliament Trust

Cite this page:

"British History Online" © University of Hertfordshire, University of London, University of Sheffield, 2011-2018; University of Sheffield 2019 (, version 1.0, 24 June 2024),