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Social Sciences reference enquiries

Here are three examples of the kind of enquiry that the Social Sciences Reference Team can help you with.

If your enquiry requires in-depth research or more specialist help than we can provide we will forward your enquiry to the appropriate person, refer you to our Research Service or suggest alternative sources of help.

Where can I find UK agricultural statistics covering the first fifty years of the 20th century?

Historical agricultural statistics can be found in agricultural reports derived from census returns. These can be found in our collection of parliamentary papers. We have a complete set of parliamentary papers in hard copy format and also electronic access via Parliamentary Papers Online. The government publication Annual Abstract of Statistics can be used for later years. There are also a number of reference books in the Social Sciences reading room that provide historical statistics at a glance.

Who were the residents of a small village in Suffolk before and after evacuation during the Second World War?

The answer can be found by searching Electoral Registers for the years 1937-38 and 1947-48.

Electoral registers are lists of names of those entitled to vote at an election and are produced for each parliamentary constituency. The British Library holds electoral registers for all parliamentary constituencies from 1947 to date. Prior to this date our holdings are incomplete but we do have some.

You need to identify the constituency and the period for which the registers are needed. There are over a dozen constituencies for Suffolk, East, West and Central covering different periods. Boundary commission maps in the Social Sciences reading room on open access may help you. This process can be time consuming.

Once you have identified the constituency that you want, you need to consult the book Parliamentary constituencies and their registers since 1832 by Richard Cheffins. This guide tells you if the British Library has the register and gives the relevant BL shelfmark. A copy of the guide is available on open access in the reading room. Registers were suspended in both World Wars and there were no registers from 1940 to 1944.

Example holdings: West Suffolk PC Bury, St Edmunds Div Period of existence 1918-48, BL holdings 1937-38, 1947-48 BL shelfmark BL.S.120

The registers are requested on manual tickets in the Social Sciences reading room. Registers pre 1984 are held offsite normal delivery 6 hours. Registers post 1984 are held onsite, normal delivery being 70 minutes if requested by 16.00pm. The registers are then collected from the Social Sciences Issue Desk for searching. Some earlier registers are on microfilm held onsite. Up to 10 consecutive years can be ordered on one ticket.

Further information about electoral registers can be found on our website.

Where can I research cases relating to domestic violence?

There are a number of legal databases available for readers to research cases. These include Casetrack and Westlaw. A keyword search of these databases will retrieve cases relating to domestic violence. In addition to subscription databases there are a number of freely available sites giving access to cases. For example, recent judgements can be found on Her Majesty’s Court Service site or at the site of the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting. A further option is to browse the section for domestic violence in the open access collection of law books in the Social Sciences reading room. Any key texts shelved here will give details of landmark cases on domestic violence.