Finding resources

Image of Gladstone Link tunnel

Our collections

Most of the items in the History Faculty Library are listed within SOLO, Oxford Libraries' catalogue, including all of our lending collections, journals, and items acquired from 2002 onwards. Some of our older and less-used reference books are listed only within the card catalogue, held in the Library.

For a guidance on electronic resources relevant for historians, see the e-Resources pages.


Our collections comprise over 85,000 volumes of predominantly British and European History from the late Roman period to c. 1989. It includes History of the Byzantine Empire, History of Russia and the former Soviet Union, History of India, and History of Australia and New Zealand, and growing coverage of the History of North and South America and the West Indies, and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Historiography, the History of Science, the History of Art, and Palaeography.

A large number of journals are available electronically via SOLO or OU eJournals and a section of printed History journals is shelved in the Lower Gladstone Link. Reference collections include set texts, primary sources, and other older and special materials.

History e-books can be found by searching SOLO or by going to our e-books webpage.

Collection Development Polic for British and Western European History (pdf).

Collection Development Policy for History of Science, Technology & Mathematics (pdf).

Provision of materials for undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations (pdf).

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The main HFL lending collection is classified using the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) scheme.  LCC is subject-based classification scheme that allows the collections to be browsed. Please note that the Local History section is not in LCC though the shelfmark range (KL-KW) looks very similar.

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An online book recommendation form is available if readers have a title they would like to suggest.

To discuss the purchase of a new e-resource for history, please email the Bodleian History Librarian in the first instance, as substantial costs are often involved and discussions with providers are possibly already taking place.

History eresources desiderata and trial lists current resources under consideration or being trialled. You can leave comments and give feedback. Proposals for new resources can be made via eResources recommendation form (on-campus only).

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In general, donations are very welcome and we are grateful for the generosity of our readers. Bodleian Libraries is fortunate in frequently receiving gifts of scholarly history books from members of the teaching staff of the Faculty and Colleges.

If you consider your donation of individual books to be appropriate for the HFL collection, then please email the Bodleian History Librarian or HFL Librarian-in-Charge.

If you consider your donation of individual books to be more appropriate for the Bodleian Library, then email the Bodleian History Librarian directly.

The libraries are in general very pleased to receive individual titles but they will, however, reserve the right to dispose of donated books should they no longer be required. We will normally ask whether you would like us to return and/or try to find alternative locations for surplus materials. Large donations will not be taken without prior consultation.

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New Books

Books recently acquired by the Library but not yet available on the shelves can be fast tracked on request. A New Books Display for browsing is located by the Lower Camera Circulation Desk and is updated on a regular basis. Recent Acquisitions also gives a virtual display of new History books, including eBooks and the Bodleian Library.

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Set Texts & Document Packs

Reference copies of set texts for the Honour School of Modern History are available for use in the Upper Camera only. They must be signed out using the slips in the books and returned to the shelves when finished with. This is a very highly used collection, so please be considerate of other users and only take up to two books at a time and return them when you have finished consulting them. Lending copies of set texts can be found on the open shelves as part of the main collection in the Lower Camera and Gladstone Link.

The HFL has started to digitise Set Texts where it is legally possible to do so under the CLA License. These selections are available to current staff and students of the History Faculty as eSet Texts on the HFL WebLearn space. Login with your Single Sign-On (what is a Single Sign-On?) username and password. See also Undergraduate Collections & Resources for listings by course.

Document Packs

The HFL has digitised Document Packs where ever possible. These selections are available to current staff and students of the History Faculty as eSet Texts on the HFL WebLearn space.

Print document packs are no longer being produced for almost all courses. Some print copies are still available for purchase from the Lower Camera Reserve Desk - please see our list of packs or contact library staff for details.

Documents for the Further Subject The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Prelim Paper IV Foreign Texts on Trotsky that could not be digitised for copyright reasons are still available to purchase from the Lower Camera Reserve Desk in the Radcliffe Camera.

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The HFL keeps a small collection of CD-ROMs for consultation at the Upper Camera staff office. CDs accompanying books in the lending collection can be borrowed, those accompanying reference books and some stand-alone CDs may only be used in the Library.  PCs are available in the Upper Camera. CD-Roms can be searched for on SOLO.

Videos and DVDs

The HFL has a collection of videos and DVDs supporting undergraduates courses. In most cases there are lending as well as reference copies. PCs are available in the Radcliffe Camera for viewing DVDs.  Please ask staff for arrangements to view videos. Videos and DVDs can be searched for on SOLO.

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Browse our list of microfilms (PDF).


A teaching collection of wall maps are available for loan to senior members. A handlist of titles is available to download (PDF).

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Prize Essays and Theses

Prize essays and theses can be searched for on SOLO.

Around 60 theses by Modern History undergraduates from 1995 to 2007 have been catalogued.  They can be searched for on SOLO using the search term ‘Final Honour School of Modern History: undergraduate thesis’, by student candidate number, year or title.  They are likely to be a particular interest to 2nd and 3rd year History undergraduates who are preparing their own theses.

Approximately 70 theses by Chemistry students from 1961 to 2010 on the History of Chemistry have been catalogued.  The theses can be searched for on SOLO using the the search term ‘Oxford University Chemistry Part II: undergraduate thesis’, or by author name, year or title.  These theses are likely to be of special interest to students of the History of Science and Medicine.

The prize essays and theses are for reference use only and cannot be photocopied.  To consult them, please ask library staff.

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Rare Books at the Bodleian History Faculty Library

The Bodleian History Faculty Library has a small collection of antiquarian books, which are available for consultation on request. Details of the majority of the collection can be found on the HFL Rare Books blog. HFL's 2010-11 trainee, Clare Bristow, undertook the task of recording the items in order to help HFL and Bodleian Rare Books staff take decisions concerning the future of the collections. The project also aimed to make readers aware of the underused working rare book collection, as the majority of items are not in SOLO.

Please be aware that there are still some books in the HFL which are neither catalogued nor in the Rare Books blog.

About the collection

The collection consists of some 250-300 titles in over 500 volumes.The majority of items date from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are also a dozen 15th- and 16th-century items, and some 20th-century books are included for special provenance interest.

The collection has been assembled in the Bod HFL from a variety of sources. It can be seen from stamps, inscriptions, and the HFL’s accessions records that many of the books were formerly owned by other libraries in Oxford, especially the Bodleian Library. Others were purchased from public libraries and booksellers, or donated to the Bod HFL by members of the History Faculty. Some books show signs of a colourful life before this, with bookplates from stately homes, marginal notes, or newspaper cuttings found inside.

The books cover an assortment of subjects in British and European history. A large proportion is early modern British source material, including long runs of parliamentary papers and statutes.

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