Skip to main content

Primary sources: a guide for historians

Guides to primary sources: UK archives

Guide to the contents of the Public Record Office. London, H.M. Stationery Off., 1963-68. 1. Legal records, etc.--v. 2. State papers and departmental records.--v. 3. Documents transferred 1960-1966. History Reference (SH) CD1043.A553

National Archives Research Guides
These are brief but extremely helpful guides to the National Archives's holdings on many subjects at Research Guides: A to Z

Olney, R. J. Manuscript sources for British history: their nature, location, and use. London: University of London, Institute of Historical Research, 1995. IHR guides, no. 3. Firestone Library (F) DA1.O46 1995
and at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/4684/

Rodgers, Frank. A guide to British Government publications. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1980. RECAP Z2009.R62

Storey, Richard. Primary sources for Victorian studies: a guide to the location and use of unpublished materials. London: Phillimore, 1977 and Primary sources for Victorian studies: an updating. Leicester: Victorian Studies Centre, University of Leicester, 1987. Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP): Z2019.S8 and Z2019.S84

The lists and indexes of British documents published by the Public Record Office begin at Firestone CD1042.A2 L5782q.

Guides to sources for British history series volumes:

  • No. 1. Papers of British Cabinet Ministers, 1782-1900 Z2018 .P36 1982
  • No. 2. The Manuscript papers of British scientists, 1600-1940 Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP): Z6611.S4 M36 1982
  • No. 3. Guide to the location of collections described in the Reports and Calendars series, 1870-1980 Z2019 .G84 1982
  • No. 4. Private papers of British diplomats, 1782-1900 Z6465.G7 P74 1985: Z6465.G7 P74 1985
  • No. 5. Private papers of British Colonial governors, 1782-1900 RECAP JV1061 .G73 1986
  • No. 6. Papers of British churchmen, 1780-1940 Z6611.C59 P36 1987
  • No. 7. Papers of British politicians 1782-1900 Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP): DA88 .P36
  • No. 8. Records of British business and industry, 1760-1914: textiles and leather Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP): Z7911 .G73 1990
  • No. 9. Records of British business and industry, 1760-1914. metal processing and engineering RECAP Z7914.M5 R426 1994
  • Nos. 10-11. Principal family and estate collections CD1069.5.A1 P746 1996
  • No. 12. Papers of British antiquaries and historians Z988.P36 2003

Records of foreign & colonial affairs

The records of the Foreign Office, 1782-1968. Revised by Michael Roper. 2nd ed. Richmond, Surry: Public Record Office, 2002. History Reference (SH) CD1051 2002

Atherton, Louise. Never complain, never explain: records of the Foreign Office and State Paper Office 1500-c.1960. PRO Publications, 1994. Public Record Office readers' guide no. 7. Firestone CD1051 .A84 1994q

Thurston, Anne. Sources for colonial studies in the Public Record Office.London: HMSO, c1994-. History Reference (SH) CD1043.3 .T487 1995

Moir, Martin. A general guide to the India Office Records. London: British Library, 1988. Firestone Library (F) Z6621.I43 M64

Please see the subject guides at Primary sources for historical research: subject guides for sources on the history of the British Empire in North America, Africa and South and East Asia.

British and foreign state papers. Vol. 1 (1812/14)-v. 170 (published in 1977) London: H.M.S.O., 1828-c1977.
Firestone Library (F) JX103 .B758
Includes treaties and documents. For diplomatic correspondence, see the Parliamentary sessional papers (for items presented to Parliament) or microfilm editions.

Early Canadiana [RECAP MICROFICHE 2090]. This is a very large collection of material on the history of Canada.