Skip to content

Online Primary Sources: University Library

A guide to finding online primary sources available through the Brynmor Jones Library, Hull History Centre and other free portals.

University Library


Digitised material available through the University Library.

Digitised archives

The University Library provides access to a number of databases which include digitised archive material, including documents, photographs, maps, and sound recordings. Click on the title of the resource to access it via the A-Z list of databases. The A-Z list will also tell you whether the resource is included in Library Search.

AM Explorer

Around 100 collections of primary sources which are searchable and browseable, covering subjects including African American communities, children's literature and culture, government papers, medieval life, medicine, warfare, and Victorian popular culture.

American Indian Histories and Cultures

Also available via AM Explorer. Includes manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books from the earliest contact with European settlers up to the mid-20th century.

Archives Unbound

Digitised archival material, grouped into broad topics which you can browse or search. Particularly strong on US material.

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States

A curated selection of around 1600 documents, focused on six chronological phases of Black Freedom from 1790 to the 2000s.

British Association for the Advancement of Science: Collections on the History of Science, 1830-1970

This collection includes digitised material relating to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and several individual scientists including William Thomson, Lord Kelvin; Henry Flint; Samuel Tolansky; and Sir Oliver Lodge.

British Library Sounds

Thousands of sound recordings including oral history, music, literature and drama, wildlife, and environmental sounds.

Chronicle: BBC Northern Ireland's television news from the 60s and 70s

Provides access to digitised copies of selected BBC news and current affairs material covering Northern Ireland and The Troubles (1963-1976).

Churchill Archive

The Churchill Archive includes more than 800,000 pages of original documents, produced between 1874 and 1965, ranging from Winston S. Churchill’s personal correspondence to his official exchanges with kings, presidents, politicians, and military leaders.

Conscientious Objection During World War I

This collection contains material from the No Conscription Fellowship (U DCO) and the Union of Democratic Control (U DDC), both held by Hull University Archives. During World War I, Conscientious Objectors united to oppose the war despite the criticism they faced. Three of these anti-war protest groups included the Conscientious Objector Information Bureau, the Union of Democratic Control, and the No-Conscription Fellowship. The collection includes complete files of key anti-war publications. It also contains rare reports from the Conscientious Objector Information Bureau.

Darwin Online

Includes both publications and manuscripts by Charles Darwin. Some are available as full text or digital images; use the Advanced Search to filter for particular types of documents, and those which have been digitised.

Empire Online

Also available as part of AM Explorer.

This resource includes manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials to inform the study of "Empire" from the 17th century to the 21st century.

Hollywood, Censorship, and the Motion Picture Production Code, 1927-1968

This collection, which documents forty years of self-regulation and censorship in the motion picture industry, contains digitised case files relating to 500 films submitted to the Production Code staff for consideration. The selection includes films from every studio and genre, as well as examples of important foreign productions and independently made films.

JSTOR Primary Sources

This resource has around 140,000 items arranged into three overarching themed collections: 19th Century British Pamphlets; Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa; and World Heritage Sites: Africa. The collections include pamphlets and books, photographs, building plans and scans, 3D models, and more.

Making of the Modern World, Part I

The Making of the Modern World: Part I, The Goldsmiths'-Kress Collection, 1450-1850 offers ways of understanding the expansion of world trade, the Industrial Revolution, and the development of modern capitalism, supporting research in variety of disciplines. Users have access to digitised rare books and primary source materials.

Migration to New Worlds

Access via AM Explorer.

Includes documents and oral histories relating to emigration from the British Isles, mainland Europe and Asia to the Americas and Australasia. It concentrates on the period 1800-1924 but contains some earlier material. It also includes the New South Wales convict database, which contains details of convicts transported between 1780 and 1819.

Papers of Sir Mark Sykes, 1879-1919: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Partition of the Middle East

This collection contains material from the papers of Sir Mark Sykes held by Hull University Archives (U DDSY2), relating to the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Middle East. This collection focuses on Mark Sykes' experience in military intelligence and diplomacy in the Middle East both before and during the First World War, providing researchers with an insight into the roots and role of European colonial powers in the emergence of nation-states from the Arab Revolts of the late and immediate post-WW1 period.

Papers of Thomas Perronet Thompson relating to Sierra Leone

This collection contains material from the papers of Thomas Perronet Thompson held by Hull University Archives (U DTH). Thompson was appointed governor of Sierra Leone in 1808, the year after the abolition of the slave trade across the British Empire. The digitised documents include correspondence and reports relating to Thompson's attempts to enforce the new law, and his later work "A narrative of facts connected with the colony of Sierra Leone".

Perdita Manuscripts

Digitised manuscripts written or compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including diaries, correspondence, commonplace books, and more.

Radio at BUFVC

Archives of Independent Local Radio from 1973-1996, including the LBC/Independent Radio News Archive.

Slave Voyages

Provides access to databases of trans-Atlantic and intra-American slave voyages, and a database providing personal details of 91,491 Africans taken from captured slave ships or from African trading sites. There are also several hundred digitised manuscripts, maps, and images.

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice

A portal for slavery and abolition studies, including digitised documents and maps; there are several items which are held at Wilberforce House, Hull, amongst the digitised material. The collections cover the time period 1490-2007.

State Papers Online – Part I: The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers Domestic

380,000 digitised documents relating to the Tudor state, from the accession of Henry VIII to the death of Elizabeth I.

Virginia Company Archives

Digitised papers from the Ferrar Papers, which include business and family correspondence from the 16th-18th centuries, including material relating to the Virgina Company of London.

Women, War and Society, 1914-1918

Includes charity and international relief reports, pamphlets, photographs, and press cuttings, taken from the collections of the Imperial War Museum.

Digitised printed material

The University Library provides access to a number of databases which include digitised printed material such as newspapers, pamphlets, periodicals, theatre playbills, advertisements, and other ephemera, which you might treat as primary sources, depending on your research. Click on the title of the resource to access it via the A-Z list of databases. The A-Z list will also tell you whether the resource is included in Library Search.

17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers

The largest and most comprehensive collection of early news media, including pamphlets, proclamations, newsbooks and newspapers, containing almost a million pages.

19th Century British Pamphlets

Digitised versions of around 26,000 pamphlets covering a wide range of political, social and technological issues, including subjects such as British imperialism, anti-slavery, and the government of Ireland.

19th Century UK Periodicals

A collection of digitised periodicals, including early children's and lifestyle magazines.

Bristol Selected Pamphlets, 1800-1899

Includes the National Liberal Club collection, with pamphlets from the libraries of Charles Bradlaugh, John Noble, the Liberation Society, the Land Nationalisation Society, the Cobden Club, and others. Bristol's collection is especially strong on 19th century commerce, economics, finance, politics, religion and sociology.

British Library newspapers

Parts I, II, III, IV, V and VI. Includes a large range of regional and local English, Scottish and Irish newspapers and periodicals, dating from 1732-1950. (Parts IV, V and VI available until May 2024.)

British Periodicals

Collection I and Collection II. Includes full text of over 400 historical periodicals, newspapers and scholarly journals, from the 18th to the 20th century. Topics covered include literature, music, drama, architecture, archaeology, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences.

Cowen Tracts

Personal collection of Joseph Cowen (1829-1900). A social reformer and Member of Parliament for Newcastle (1873-86), Cowen's pamphlet collection dates, mostly, from his active years from the late 1840s to early 1880s. The collection reflects his interests in social, educational and economic issues and includes much local material.

Daily Mail Historical Archive

Historical editions of the Daily Mail, from 1896-2004. Includes the Daily Mail Atlantic Edition, which was published on board the transatlantic liners that sailed between New York and Southampton between 1923 and 1931.


Digimap contains a number of different types of maps, including Historic Digimap which includes historical Ordnance Survey maps.

Earl Grey Pamphlets Collection

This collection was largely accumulated by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls Grey. The Greys were particularly interested in parliamentary reform, colonial affairs and Catholic emancipation.

Early American Imprints, Series 1: Evans

This digital collection contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America over a 160-year period between 1639 and 1800.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Contains over 180,000 books, pamphlets and broadsides in all subjects printed between 1701 and 1800. It also contains a small number of earlier printed material, including several pamphlets relating to the English Civil War.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Collection

Contains around 4000 pamphlets collected by the Foreign Office and Colonial Office. Publication dates span 1545-1900, with the majority being 19th century. The Foreign Office Collection consists largely of pamphlets sent back to London by British ambassadors to help with policy formation. The Colonial Office Collection is chiefly comprised of pamphlets sent back from Britain's colonies.

Gale Reference Complete

Allows you to search across multiple databases for primary and secondary sources.

Guardian and Observer Archive

Includes all editions of The Guardian from 1821 to 2003, and The Observer from 1791 to 2003.


Hansard is the official daily report of proceedings in both Houses of Parliament. Historic content on the site dates back to 1802.

Historical Texts

Contains over 460,000 texts published from the late 15th century to the long 19th century. Although many of the texts are books, the collection also includes pamphlets, broadsides and newsbooks.

Hume Tracts

19th-century pamphlets from the personal collection of Joseph Hume (1777-1855), Radical Member of Parliament. The collection covers the major political, economic and social developments and reforms taking place in Britain in the early part of the 19th century along with the causes Hume particularly championed, such as universal suffrage, Catholic emancipation, a reduction in the power of the Anglican church and an end to imprisonment for debt.

Illustrated London News Historical Archive

The Illustrated London News was the world's first fully illustrated weekly newspaper when it began publishing in 1841. The online archive includes all editions of the ILN until it ceased publication in 2003. The publication presented a vivid picture of British and world events (including news of war, disaster, ceremonies, the arts, and science).

Independent Historical Archive

Full editions and supplements of The Independent from 1986-2016. (Available until May 2024.)

John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera

Contains scans of over 67,000 documents from the John Johnson collection at the Bodleian Library. The ephemera includes advertising material, theatre handbills, broadsides relating to murders and executions, and much more. You can search the database or browse through five broad categories: 19th Century Entertainment; The Booktrade; Popular Prints; Crimes, Murders and Executions; and Advertising.

Knowsley Pamphlet Collection

This collection of 19th-century pamphlets reflects the political careers of the Earls of Derby. Edward George, the 14th Earl, was successively Irish Secretary, Colonial Secretary, and three times Prime Minister. His son, Edward Henry, 15th Earl, was Colonial Secretary and later Indian secretary in his father's administration of 1858-59.

The Listener Historical Archive

The Listener was a weekly magazine established by the BBC in 1929 as the medium for reproducing broadcast talks, and was the intellectual counterpart to the BBC listings magazine Radio Times. The Listener is one of the few records and means of accessing the content of many early broadcasts. In addition to commenting on the intellectual broadcasts of the week, The Listener also previewed major literary and musical shows and regularly reviewed new books.

London School of Economics Selected Pamphlets

This selection of 19th-century pamphlets from the LSE includes comprehensive collections of political party materials, including election manifestos and political cartoons, and collections from pressure groups such as the Fabian Society, Imperial Federation Defence Committee, Poor Law Reform Association, Workhouse Visiting Society, Liberal and Property Defence League, and from cooperative movements such as the Cooperative Women's Guild.

University of Manchester British Political Pamphlets Collection

A collection of pamphlets dating mainly from the second half of the 19th-century dealing with politics, economics and finance. Areas covered include the Irish Question (particularly land reform and leaseholding); Free Trade; constitutional and electoral reform; the reform of local government; the nationalization of land; Egypt and Suez; imperial expansion and emigration; Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism; the disestablishment of the Churches; and crime, punishment and the death penalty. Other pamphlets concern women’s suffrage, spelling and currency reform, Unitarianism, atheism and education.

Mirror Historical Archive

Covers 1903-2000. Aimed at a working-class mass-market audience, the Mirror became influential in shifting the course of British newspapers and journalism, starting the dominance of tabloids in the twentieth century—offering researchers a valuable left-wing, populist alternative to the major broadsheets. (Available until May 2024.)

New York Times Historical Newspapers

Contains fully-searchable editions of the New York Times from 1851-1993.

Punch Historical Archive

Contains approximately 200,000 pages from all volumes of the satirical magazine Punch between 1841 and 1992. (Available until May 2024.)

Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture and Law

A collection of digitised pamphlets, statutes, federal and state court cases, and more, relating to slavery in the United States.

Sunday Times Historical Archive

Contains copies of The Sunday Times from 1822 to 2016. (Available until May 2024.)

Telegraph Historical Archive

Contains copies of The Daily Telegraph from its first edition in 1855 until 2016, and The Sunday Telegraph from its inception in 1961 until 2016. (Available until May 2024.)

The Times Digital Archive

Contains fully-searchable digitised issues of The Times, from 1785 to 2019.

Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive

Includes over 120,000 pages of literary criticism, published between 1902 and 2019. (Available until May 2024.)

TVTiP - TV Times Index

TVTiP provides a searchable index to the London edition of the TVTimes, the listings magazine for ITV broadcasts, from September 1955 to March 1985. TVTiP allows users to search for programmes, production staff and performers.

The Vogue Archive

A searchable archive of American Vogue, from the first issue in 1892 to the current month.

Wilson Anti-Slavery Collection

A collection of 19th-century anti-slavery pamphlets collected by Henry Joseph Wilson (1833-1914), the Liberal Member of Parliament for Sheffield. The collection is of particular importance for the study of the activities of the provincial philanthropic societies, such as the Birmingham and Midland Freedmen's Aid Association, the Birmingham and West Bromwich Ladies' Negro's Friend Society, the Glasgow Emancipation Society, the Manchester Union and Emancipation Society, and the Sheffield Ladies Female Anti Slavery Society.