Collections

The Vere Harmsworth Library houses the University's principal research collection relating to the history of the United States. The library has comprehensive collections relating to US history, spanning largely from the earliest colonial period to contemporary history. The collections of 100,000+ volumes of printed materials are impressive by both European and American standards - thanks to the long history of Legal Deposit and active purchasing over many decades. The library has an excellent collection of printed materials, including monographs, journals and editions of documents. Researchers of colonial America also benefit from access to the Bodleian Libraryís extensive collection of early printed books as well as sources on microfilms and important electronic resources, such as Early American Imprints I, 1638-1800.

The library also contains extensive collections relating to American politics, international relations, and social and economic aspects of the United States. Further collections related to these areas may also be found in the Social Science Library (SSL). As a general rule, collections that are primarily focused on domestic aspects, or foreign relations from the point of view of the United States, are covered by the VHL; more comparative and theoretical works are held in the SSL.

For more information on the VHLís collections, please see the online Guide to US History Sources.

Other relevant libraries

The VHL collections are supplemented by the lending and teaching collections in the History Faculty Library (HFL) and Social Science Library.

The Bodleian Librariesí collections relating to US law and legal history are held in the Bodleian Law Library, which are the most extensive such collections in the UK. There are some law holdings in the VHL, particularly on political and historical aspects. The VHL holds the Bodleian Librariesí collection of US government publications, with the exception of various titles related to US law.

For more information, see the Guide to US Government Publications and the US Legal Resources Guide.

American Literature collections are kept in the Bodleian Library (research collections) and English Faculty Library (teaching collections). Material relating to the wider arts and culture of the United States may be found in the Bodleian Library, Sackler Library and Music Faculty Library. The VHL does have supplementary collections in all these areas, particularly for historical aspects.

Relevant Special Collections are largely in the Bodleian Library and Rhodes House Library.

Locating books and journals within the library

Library material is arranged according to the Library of Congress classification scheme and most books and journals are available on open shelf. Pre-1920 material and theses are located in the stack and need to be requested using the hold (stack request) facility on SOLO (please see here for more information on stack requests at the Vere Harmsworth Library). The location of books and journals can be found by searching SOLO.

Electronic resources

Oxford University subscribes to a wide range of electronic resources, including e-journals, bibliographic databases, and collections of digitized primary sources. Electronic resources may be searched for in SOLO or OxLIP+ (the librariesí dedicated e-resource portal). For more on the electronic resources available in Oxford, please see our online guide.

Major electronic resources for the study of the United States include:

Microfilm collections

The library has an extensive collection of primary source materials on microfilm, including historic newspapers and the papers of several major organizations and significant figures. Most microfilms may be found by searching SOLO, or by browsing the subject guide or list of newspapers.

The library has four microfilm readers available, including one that will scan images to a PC. For more information on using the microfilm collections, please see here.

New books

To recommend books for purchase, please email the library or use the Bodleian Libraries' book recommendations form. A list of new books received in the library is published each month on LibraryThing.

Back to top