History Collections |

North American collections

This information has been brought together in collaboration with the North American Collections Group for the History Day American Trail. The North American Collections group was set up to provide opportunities for engagement across a vibrant research network for the study of North America in London. Information about collections and resources that are available in London are listed below to support your research.

This guide is designed for researchers involved in North American Studies in the widest sense; encompassing subjects as diverse as history, literature, social sciences, gender and disability studies, art and music to broader interdisciplinary research. The collections encompass Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

American Resources in London:

The Archives and Records Association (ARA) Section for Business Records aims to be the professional body of choice for archivists and records managers working with business records.

The Business Archives Council promotes the preservation of business records of  historical importance; supplies advice and information on business archives and modern records; and encourages interest in and study of business history and archives.

The British Library holds one of the largest European collections of material relating to the Americas, from manuscript to music, books to digitised collections, as well as a packed-programme of academic and popular events organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies.

Dr Williams’s Library: The collection includes some early American pamphlets dating from the 1650s and correspondence concerning the early native Americans. There is also an important anti-slavery collection including the celebrated self description by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library encompass national, international and comparative law across a wide range of jurisdictions and legal topics from the 18th century to date. The North American collections include monographs, legislation, law reports and journals for many individual states and provinces.

The Institute of Historical Research Library consists of published primary source material covering the Americas in the Colonial and Post-colonial periods. Comprehensive runs of official records, colonial assembly debates, diaries and journals, travel writing and correspondence, particularly strong for the 17th-19th centuries.

King’s College London Archives and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives hold published collections of official US government papers on 20th century international defence policy. The Foyle Special Collections Library’s collections include an extensive coverage of the American Revolution, War of 1812, 19th century British emigration to N. America and the history and topography of Canada.

Lambeth Palace Library holds sources on North America including 17th-century accounts of the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia; records of the Bishops of London and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel on the Church, especially 18th-century; and visits by the 20th-century Archbishops as heads of the Anglican Communion.

Library of the Society of Friends: Material includes official records of the Quakers’ national body in Britain, archives and papers documenting transatlantic visits and correspondence from the 17th century onwards, and American Quaker publications.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine archives date from the mid-19th century to the present. They consist of the papers of scientific, medical and public health professionals involved in the search for preventative measures and cures to tropical diseases and public health issues. They hold some material on North America, including the archives of Sir Donald Ross and Peter Piot.

LSE Library’s collection has a range of resources for the study of various aspects of 19th and 20th century American history. This includes one of the largest collections of US Federal Government documents outside of the United States and access to a number of electronic resources.

The National Archives library holds a selection of material relating to North America. There is a strong focus on the colonial period. Later periods are covered; including titles on the cold war and foreign relations.

Senate House Library: The US Studies research-level holdings offer a broad interdisciplinary coverage of the history, institutions and culture of the United States. SHL Special Collections have considerable strengths in U.S. Material. Canada remains a major element of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies collection which extends back to the end of French rule.

TUC Library Collections at London Metropolitan University have a small collection relating to North America, including a considerable collection of periodicals going back to the 1920s from the American Federation of Labor.

UCL Institute of the Americas, Library Services and Special Collections: UCL Institute of the Americas offers programmes of study for MPhil and PhD degrees in the history, politics and sociology of Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean. UCL Library has good collections of print and e-resources on the history of these regions.

UCL Institute of Education Library has two of the most eminent American educators represented in the Newsam Library’s Special Collections; John Dewey & Jerome Bruner. Almost every special collection has some ‘Americana’ but the History of Education Collection has a large number of 18th and 19th century texts representing American education at all educational levels.

The Wellcome Library has several hundred monographs and serials published in North America between 1720-1820 The collection includes publications on yellow fever in Philadelphia, midwifery, materia medica and a Royal Charter.

American Online Resources:

The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) covers the American Colonies (the original 13 and Canada) and relations with the USA (diplomatic, cultural and commercial).

British History Online has a strong collection of colonial materials. The highlights include the 41 volumes of the Calendar of State Papers Colonial for America and the West Indies, which detail papers covering the period of 1574 to 1739, and the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations.

Reviews in History has nearly 200 reviews of books and digital resources covering North America.

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