Marriage and Morals among the Victorians (History UN3334, Fall 2023): Guide to British Archives

British Archives


Since Great Britain was involved, directly or indirectly, with most of the world at one time or another, many British sources are useful for histories of other countries, and this is a list of some of the sources available in Great Britain.  It does not include the many sources related to the United States; there are so many of these guides, they deserve their own listing.

General Guides

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection is housed at King’s College, London, and consists of the collections of the Foreign and Commonwealth Library.  It includes published and unpublished material relating to foreign countries from the 1600’s.

National Archives Colonial collections

Empire and Commonwealth Records held by other archives (beyond UK National Archives)

Databases that Provide Digital Facsimiles of Archival Materials

Many databases accessible to you at Columbia may provide access to varying quantities of materials held in British Archives. The databases singled out below are listed because they provide truly substantial levels of access.

Archives Direct : Sources from The National Archives, UK    CROSS-SEARCHABLE PLATFORM Icon  (Adam Matthew)
Archives Direct is a suite of collections sourced from The National Archives, Kew, the official archive of the United Kingdom. Containing diplomatic correspondence, letters, reports, surveys, material from newspapers, statistical analyses, published pamphlets, ephemera, military papers, profiles of prominent individuals, maps and many other types of document, it consists of the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the British state’s point of view. (Click on "Nature and Scope" within any given module of Archives Direct for a listing and description of the file classes from The National Archives, Kew that it reproduces.)

Colonial America  Icon (Adam Matthew)
Colonial America will be released in five modules, organized thematically. We currently have access to: Modules 1 and 2.  New modules are scheduled for publication annually through 2019, at which point Colonial America will be complete. The complete database will consist of all 1,450 volumes of the CO 5 series of Colonial Office files held at The National Archives in London, plus all extracted documents associated with them.

Colonial State Papers Icon (ProQuest)
Colonial State Papers provides access to thousands of papers concerning English activities in the American, Canadian, and West Indian colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Colonial State Papers integrates two important research tools as one service: Collection CO 1 from The National Archives (full name: Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers); and Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739. All of the documents from CO 1 have been reproduced as full-colour, high quality images. Users can limit their searches to records that include scanned documents or can search all documents recorded in the Calendar.

The National Archives