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Manuscripts electronic resources

Owing to licensing restrictions, these resources can only be accessed from British Library workstations within our Reading Rooms and Business & IP Centre.

Titles are available in all the Library's London Reading Rooms, except where indicated; we have a small selection of CD-ROMs that can only be read on a stand-alone terminal in Carrel 9 of the Manuscripts Reading Room. Please ask for further information at the Reference Enquiry Desk or at the Superintendent's Desk.

Manuscript exhibtion& information links provide access to exhibitions and current projects related to the Manuscript Collections. Also provided is a list of other useful Websites.

See also the Library's complete listing of electronic resources, including electronic journals.

Title Brief Description Format
Acta Sanctorum
Online / CD-ROM
An electronic version of the works published over a period of three hundred years by the Société des Bollandistes.
America: History and Life Historical coverage of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Article abstracts and bibliographical citations of books and dissertations. Indexing, which originally covered publications from 1964 onwards, is being extended retrospectively to the late 19th century. Click here to search America: History and Life alongside Historical Abstracts.
Anglo-Norman Dictionary Revision of the Anglo-Norman dictionary, first published between 1977 and 1992.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
Antique Map Price Record This regularly-updated catalog of antiquarian map sales contains price records back to 1982, with bibliographic descriptions, information on suppliers, condition reports, and links to digitised versions where available. Contents reflect the merging of two resources: Antique Map Price Record and, in 2012.
online subscription resource
Bible in English, The Contains 21 different versions of The Bible. In addition to 13 complete Bibles, there are 5 texts that comprise just the New Testament, 2 that contain just the Gospels, and Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch, Jonah, and the New Testament.
Bibliography of the History of Art Indexes and abstracts art-related books, conference proceedings and dissertations, exhibition and dealer's catalogues, and articles from over 1,400 periodicals. The product of collaboration between the Getty Research Institute of the J. Paul Getty Trust and the French Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. It includes and extends the coverage of its two predecessor art indexes: Répertoire d'Art et d'Archéologie (RAA) from 1973 to 1989 and International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA) from 1975 to 1989.

Online resource

Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI) A.K.A. Bio-Base A comprehensive index to nearly 12 million biographical sketches in more than 2700 volumes and editions of current and retrospective reference books, covering both contemporary and historical figures throughout the world.
British Library Digitized Manuscripts Digitised copies of manuscripts and archives in the British Library's collections, with descriptions of their contents.
This site is freely available on the internet.
British Literary Manuscripts Online c. 1660-1900 An extensive digital archive, comprising more than 400,000 manuscript pages, includes complete facsimile copies of poems, plays, essays, novels, diaries, journals, correspondence and other manuscripts from the Restoration through the Victorian era.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Manuscripts or Humanities Reference Enquiry desks.
British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval and Renaissance An extensive digital archive of more than 375,000 manuscript pages, including complete facsimile copies of letters, stories, poems, plays and other literary material in Middle and Early Modern English, c.1120-1660.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Manuscripts or Humanities Reference Enquiry desks.
British Medieval Library Catalogues Links to PDF files containing information relating to the Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, including the List of Identifications, which forms an index to identified texts mentioned in documents printed in the Corpus, published by the British Library in association with the British Academy.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
British Online Archives Access to digitised copies of archives held in Britain, with a detailed finding aid for each archive held. Collections held include Parliamentary Labour Party papers, BBC Handbooks and Listener Research, and World War One diaries. Other collections cover missionary records, the industrial revolution, and records of Britain's relationship with the Americas, Asia and Africa.
Remote access is available for registered Reader Pass holders.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Humanities, Rare Books & Music or Social Sciences Reference Enquiry desks.
Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Site with links to fully digitised medieval European manuscripts available on the web.
This site is freely available on the internet.
The Cecil Papers The Cecil Papers are a privately held archive, consisting principally of the correspondence of William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598) and his son, Robert, the 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612). These two men dominated the administration of government during the reign of Elizabeth I.  The database offers full-colour images digitised directly from the original Cecil Papers manuscripts at Hatfield House Archives and a digitised version of the Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Salisbury.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry desk.
Cetedoc Christian Latin Texts This database contains the complete Latin texts of the Corpus Patrum Latinorum (including the Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, and the Continuatio Mediaevalis), as well as the Vulgate, Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, the complete works of Augustine, Jerome, and many others.
Chamberlain Papers Papers of major C.19 and C.20 political figures Joseph, Austen and Neville Chamberlain accessed via Cengage’s Archives Unbound platform. This is a subscription based service and can only be accessed from the reading room.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry desk.
Online resource
Chatham House Online Archive, 1920-2008 Enables users to explore research, expert analysis and commentary from the eminent think tank, the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Includes unique access to thousands of hours of audio recordings of Chatham House lectures and their fully searchable transcripts offering valuable insight into the thoughts of key figures.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry desk.
Online resource
Churchill Archive Over 800,000 pages of digitised primary source material, including Churchill's papers (owned by the Churchill estate) - correspondence, speeches, and official documents - as well as ancillary and secondary materials related to the career of Churchill.
Online resource
Codex Sinaiticus Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript - the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity - is of supreme importance for the history of the book.
The Codex Sinaiticus Project is an international collaboration to reunite the entire manuscript in digital form and make it accessible to a global audience for the first time.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Humanities or Manuscripts Reference Enquiry desks.
Online resource
Columbia Gazetteer Including both modern and historical place names, this site gives locations for places throughout the world. It usually includes a description of the place and its history as well.
Dictionary of National Biography Contains over 40,000 biographical articles on British figures.
Dictionary of Old English / Old English Corpus The Dictionary of Old English electronic corpus is a complete record of surviving Old English except for some variant Manuscripts of individual texts.
Dictionary of Renaissance Latin from Prose Sources An online version of the first dictionary of Renaissance Latin, based on its second revised print edition. It records the vocabulary of over 230 Latin prose authors from different regional backgrounds who wrote between c. 1300 and c. 1600, and gives translations in French and English in approximately 11,000 entries.
NB: We have accss to this database for a trial period up to the end of December 2015.
For help with this resource: see staff at the Manuscripts Reference Enquiry desk.
Online resource
Encyclopaedia Britannica EB Online includes the complete encyclopaedia, as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the Britannica Book of the Year and an Internet directory that includes more than 130,000 links to selected Web sites.
English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) A bibliography of the printed output of the hand press era (1473 -). Lists the whereabouts of surviving copies and notes the existence of facsimiles from over 1,500 libraries worldwide. Geographically ESTC covers: 1. All relevant items printed in the British Isles in any language. 2. All relevant items printed in Colonial America, the United States (1776-1800) and Canada in any language. 3. All relevant items printed in territories governed by Britain during any period (to 1800) in any language. 4. All relevant items printed wholly or partly in English, or other British vernaculars, in any other part of the world. Also items purporting to be British but with fake London imprints.
Gospels of Peresopnytsya The "Peresopnytsya Gospel" is the first known translation of the Gospel text into the Ukrainian language, the illuminated manuscript dating from the years 1555-1561. It is located at the Institute of Manuscripts at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. This is a digital facsimile edition.
Grove Dictionary of Art Online An online reference resource for all aspects of the visual arts from prehistory to the present day.
Grove Dictionary of Music Online The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians.
Historical Abstracts Historical coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada). Article abstracts and bibliographical citations of books and dissertations. Indexing, which originally covered publications from 1954 onwards, is being extended retrospectively to the late 19th century. Click here to search Historical Abstracts alongside America: History and Life.
In Principio In Principio is a searchable database of Latin incipits--the opening words that identify manuscript texts.
India Office Select Materials These catalogues cover the holdings of India Office Private Papers, Prints and Drawings, and Photographs within the Library's Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections. Their main focus is on the countries of South Asia, although there are also considerable holdings relevant to other parts of Asia and the Middle East.
International Medieval Bibliography This bibliography of the European Middle Ages (c. 400-1500) aims to provide a comprehensive, current bibliography of articles in journals and miscellany volumes (conference proceedings, essay collections or Festschriften) worldwide 1968-.
Italian Academies The Italian Academies themed collection provides a detailed searchable database for locating printed material relating to the Italian learned Academies active in Bologna, Naples, Padua and Siena in the period 1530-1650 and now held in the collections of the British Library.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance


Provides access to:
  • Iter Bibliography - a massive bibliography of more than 1.2 million citations for secondary source material about the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, 400-1700.
  • Iter Italicum- the most comprehensive finding list available of previously uncatalogued or incompletely catalogued Renaissance humanistic manuscripts in libraries and collections all over the world.

Online resource

Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts A digital resource aiming to reunite all the known holograph surviving manuscripts of Austen’s fiction in an unprecedented virtual collection. Provides full descriptions of, transcriptions of, analysis of, and commentary on the manuscripts in the archive, including details of erasures, handwriting, paper quality, watermarks, ink, binding structures, and any ancillary materials held with the holographs as aspects of their physical integrity or provenance.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
JSTOR Digitised backfiles of more than 100 core scholarly journals in 16 fields. For each journal there is a "moving wall", a fixed period of time ranging, in most cases, from 2 to 5 years, that defines the gap between the most recently published issue and the date of the most recent issues available in JSTOR.
Libraries Directory Detailed information on national, university, special, and public libraries, and archives and record offices in the UK and Ireland. Information on contacts, departments, special collections, electronic resources and general information is given.
Literature Online A fully searchable library of more than 200,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, plus biographies, bibliographies, secondary sources and web links.
Literature Resource Centre Provides access to biographies, bibliographies, and critical analysis of authors from every age and literary discipline. Covers more than 90,000 novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, and other writers, with in-depth coverage of 2,000 of the most-studied authors.
Medieval Family Life Includes full colour images of the original medieval manuscripts and full text searchable transcripts from the printed editions, where available. The original images and the transcriptions can be viewed side by side. Online resource
Medieval Travel Writing This project provides an extensive collection of manuscript materials for the study of medieval travel writing in fact and in fantasy. The core of the material is a magnificent collection of medieval manuscripts from libraries around the world and dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The main focus is accounts of journeys to the Holy Land, India and China. The manuscripts are sourced from the British Library; Bodleian Library; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Cambridge University Library; Trinity College, Cambridge; Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg; Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen; the Beinecke Library at Yale University, Trinity College, Dublin and about 15 other Libraries and Archives to make a truly international collection.
Middle English Compendium Designed to offer easy access to and interconnectivity between three major Middle English electronic resources: an electronic version of the Middle English Dictionary, a HyperBibliography of Middle English prose and verse, based on the MED bibliographies, and a Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries When complete, the collection will include more than 150,000 pages of primary materials spanning more than 300 years; it also includes biographies and a bibliography of sources.
Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present Electronic textbase on the history of women's writing, primarily focused upon the British Isles, with biographical entries, from 8th century AD to the present.
Oxford English Dictionary Online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Oxford Reference Online
Consists of 100 specialist and general reference dictionaries covering a wide range of subjects from social sciences, business, science, language, the arts, and history.
Palmer's Index and Full Text Contains the Index to The Times from October 1790 to December 1905. The Full Text component (online only) spans the years from 1800 to 1870.
Parliament Rolls of Medieval England The rolls of parliament were the official records of the meetings of the English parliament from the reign of Edward I (1272 - 1307) until the reign of Henry VII (1485 - 1509), after which they were superseded by the journals of the Lords and, somewhat later, of the Commons. The rolls, which amount in total to over four million words, were first edited in the eighteenth century and published in 1783 in six folio volumes entitled Rotuli Parliamentorum ( RP) under the general editorship of the Reverend John Strachey. This new edition reproduces the rolls edited in RP in their entirety, plus those subsequently published by Cole, Maitland, and Richardson and Sayles as well as a substantial amount of material never previously published, together with a full translation of all the texts from the three languages used by the medieval clerks (Latin, Anglo-Norman and Middle English). It also includes an introduction to every parliament known to have been held by an English king (or in his name) between 1275 and 1504, whether or not the roll for that parliament survives. Where appropriate, appendices of supplementary material are also provided, including information about the parliament in question derived from sources other than the roll. Much of this supplementary material consists of petitions to parliament.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
Past Masters Full text electronic database covering philosophy, the history of political thought and theory, education, religious studies, economics, classics, history and German studies.
Patrologia Latina An electronic version of the first edition of Jacques-Paul Migne's Patrologia Latina, published between 1844 and 1855, and the four volumes of indexes published between 1862 and 1865.
Perdita Manuscripts: Women Writers, 1500-1700 This resource is produced in association with the Perdita Project based at the University of Warwick and Nottingham Trent University. “Perdita” means “lost woman” and the quest of the Perdita Project has been to find early modern women authors who were “lost” because their writing exists only in manuscript form. The manuscripts in this site were written or compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and they have been sourced from archives and libraries across the United Kingdom and the USA.
Project Muse Provides online access to the full text of over 100 scholarly journals in the arts and Humanities, social sciences and mathematics. Coverage for selected titles now begins with volumes as early as 1993.
Registra Vaticana Registra Vaticana (Reg. Vat. 1-523), contains the texts of papal bulls and letters from John VIII (872-882) to Pius II (1458-1464). The registers reproduced belong to one of the largest and most commonly consulted series in the Vatican Archives Registers and consist of digital image reproductions of the manuscript registers of papal letters housed in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano. For help with this resource: see staff at the Humanities or Manuscripts Reference Enquiry desks.
Roy Military Survey of Scotland A joint project of the National Library of Scotland and the British Library, this free interactive mapping tool allows searching and viewing of the 18th-century manuscript treasure.
This site is freely available on the Internet.
Royal Irish Academy of Celtic Latin Literature Contains texts from important authors such as St. Patrick, Augustinus Hibernicus, Columbanus, Sedulius Scottus, John Scottus Eriugena, Peter Abelard. Over one hundred saints' lives are included as well as many theological works, liturgical, legislative and penitential works and inscriptions. More than 400 Latin works from over 100 known and unknown authors are included.
South and Southeast Asian Literature Searchable collection of fiction and poetry written in English by authors from South and Southeast Asia, focusing on works composed during the late-colonial and postcolonial eras.
State Papers Online. Part I: The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers Domestic A collection of English government documents originating from the sixteenth century – when the King or Queen acted as Prime Minister as well as Monarch. The papers feature the office archives and correspondence of the secretaries of state serving the Monarch as facsimile manuscript documents accessed directly or via the fully searchable Calendar entries (abstracts or transcriptions). This collection contains information on every facet of English government, including social and economic affairs, law and order, religious policy, crown possessions and intelligence gathering.   Offers the ability to cross search the Calendars and access the documents directly from their individual Calendar entries. By overcoming the difficulty of matching an individual Calendar entry to the original facsimile document, State Papers Online, 1509–1714 marks a huge advance for historians in all disciplines, both as a research tool and as a teaching resource. Online resource
State Papers Online. Part II, The Tudors, 1509-1603: State papers foreign The office archives & correspondence of secretaries of state relating to foreign affairs from 1509-1714 as facsimile manuscript documents accessed directly or via the fully searchable Calendar entries (abstracts or transcriptions).
For help with this resource: see staff at the Humanities or Social Sciences Reference Enquiry desks.
Online resource
Virginia Woolf This research tool for literary scholars presents the complete works of Virginia Woolf in a flexible and accessible format. Including variant editions, reading notebooks and typescript drafts, this disc supports an in-depth study of language, character refinement and plot development throughout Woolf's oeuvre.
Who Was Who 1897 - 2007 This database is available within Credo Reference and contains the entire Who Was Who archive. The interface enables the user to navigate the entire archive by occupation, company or institution, education, address, birthday or decoration.
Who's Who 2008 Full text of the 2008 edition of the British Who's Who.
World Biographical Dictionary of Artists Presents biographical information on approximately 270,000 artists based on articles in the major printed biographical works Thieme and Becker, and Vollmer, plus all articles from the first 16 volumes of the Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon.


These titles are available on a stand-alone PC in Carrel 9 of the Manuscript Reading Room.  Please ask for further information at the Reference Enquiry Desk.

Title Brief Description
Beowulf An electronic facsimile and edition of BL Cotton MS Vitellius A xv.
Beowulf Supplementary CD Additional high resolution images of BL Cotton MS Vitellius A xv, with a codicological interface.
Domesday Explorer Searchable tool providing images of the Domeday facsimile of 1869, together with extracts from the Philimore translation and maps.
eVK: Scientific & Medical Writings in Old and Middle English An electronic reference.
Exultet Rolls Text and images from southern Italian liturgical roles.
Iter Italicum: Humanistic manuscripts of the Renaissance Finding list of Renaissance humanistic Manuscripts found in libraries, museums and archives throughout the world. Originally published in hard copy by EJ Brill, 1963-92.
The Hartlib Papers A complete text and image database of the papers of Samuel Hartlib (c.1600 - 1662).
Unique Balkan Manuscripts Images of manuscripts from the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library of Bulgaria. CD needs to be installed by staff.

Useful Websites

Access to Archives
AMARC (Association for Manuscripts & Archives in Research Collections)
Bible, Parallel text Versions (Hebrew, Septuagint, Vulgate and King James)
British Library Cotton Manuscripts
Electronic Sawyer (Anglo-Saxon Charters)
GENUKI - UK & Ireland Genealogy
The Heritage Image Partnership
Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary
Liddell & Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon
M25 Consortium of Higher Education Libraries
Manuscript sources for British History
National Register of Archives
Orbis Latinus Online
The National Archives
WATCH (Writers & Their Copyright Holders)
York Doomsday Project