Finding online resources

Historians benefit from an increasing amount of digital content or online finding aids for their research. There is good coverage for all periods, medieval to modern. One of the advantages of using electronic resources is that Oxford users can access them 24/7 and usually even when off campus.

Finding books

Use a library catalogue or a bibliographical database to find books. Good starting points are:

  • SOLO - search online catalogue for Oxford libraries
  • Explore the British Library - the BL catalogue includes the newspaper catalogue of Britain's national library
  • COPAC - over 70 UK and Irish academic, national and specialist library catalogues
  • WorldCat - major union library catalogue with details of hundreds of US and international library catalogues, incl. Library of Congress
  • Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog - German national and regional libraries but also European national library catalogues
  • eBooks

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Finding journal articles

An increasing number of journals are now also available electronically. Use OU eJournals to find out which ones the Bodleian Libraries has subscribed to. [please tell me more about ejournals for history.]

We strongly recommend that you use a bibliographical database to find journal articles.

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Finding primary sources

For information how to find electronic primary source materials, see a listing of databases on Databases A-Z. [please tell me more]

For information how to find online newspapers, see Newspapers and other online news sources from the 17th – 21st centuries

The Weston Library has extensive information on finding aids and catalogues to their collections (early printed books and archives.)

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Finding websites

Many websites offer free access to quality information resources. Very few are listed in Databases A-Z > History. For a listing of some recommended websites, see the HFL Diigo website.

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eAlerts and RSS Feeds

In an age of rapidly increasing rate of publication the need to keep up-to-date with research is becoming ever more important. Make use of electronic alerts and RSS feeds to help you stay informed about subjects are you are particularly interested in.

» Video: RSS feeds in Plain English (CommonCraft via YouTube)

» Bodleian iSkills Getting information come to you: presentation & handout 

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Bodleian History Librarian: Isabel Holowaty, Bodleian History Librarian, 01865 277294, Upper Reading Room, Old Bodleian Library

Bodleian History Faculty Library: 01865 277262, or email, Upper Camera Office, Radcliffe Camera

Use the Ask an Oxford Librarian

Bodleian Library Main Enquiry Desk: 01865 277162, or email, Lower Reading Room, Old Bodleian

Bodleian Libraries eResources helpdesk:

IT Services for technical support via the IT Help Centre (VPN, etc.):

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Training in electronic resources

The History Librarian and staff of the HFL run regular training sessions on behalf of the Faculty for students. In addition, the Bodleian iSkills programme offers a comprehensive training programme in the selection and use of many e-resources including remote access and keeping up-to-date. The sessions are open to all staff and students of the University.

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Recommending & subscribing to new e-resources and trials

Before you propose a new resource, please first check Databases A-Z that it is not yet in Oxford and then the History database desiderata where you can also leave comments. The desiderata will also advertise details of trials for British & Western European History and history of science & medicine eresources.

Please note that the costs of eResources van be very high and usually cannot be purchased or subscribed without funding and without discussion about prioritising the desiderata at the Committee of Library Provision & Strategy for History.

Enquiries relating to eresources on the history of other countries or History of Art, please contact the relevant subject librarian.

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Terms and conditions

Oxford subscribes to a wide range of e-resources, e-journals and e-books to support your research and study. Use of these is governed strictly by licence agreements.

Please remember that 

  • E-resources may be used for study and research but NOT for commercial purposes.
  • You may NOT share your password or pass content from e-resources to anyone else.
  • Systematic downloading or viewing of excessive amounts of data is strictly forbidden

Failure to comply may result in:

  • Referral to the University Proctors
  • Publishers withdrawing content from the whole university

Remote access to British Library databases

Those students and researchers with a registered British Library Reader Pass can access a small selection of their databases remotely. The following resources are included:

  • British Online Archives all collections including
    • African Blue Books, 1821-1953
    • BBC handbooks, annual reports and accounts, 1927-2001/2
    • BBC Listener Research Department, 1937-c.1950
    • British Records on the Atlantic World, 1700- 1900
    • Colonial and Missionary Records
    • Communist Party of Great Britain
    • Industrial Revolution
    • Records of the Raj
    • War diaries from the Imperial War Museum: The Great War
  • The following Readex collections:
    • African American Newspapers, 1827-1998
    • Caribbean Newspapers 1718-1876
    • Early American Newspapers, Series 1
    • World newspaper Archive: African Newspapers, 1800-1922
    • US Congressional Hearings Digital Collection, 1824-1979

For more details, see BL's About Remote Eresources. Learn more about registering with the British Library as a reader.

A list of databases held in the British Library but which are not available to Oxford researchers is on the HFL Blog.

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