Thomason Tracts

Image from Thomason Tracts

These are a vast collection of printed pamphlets, books, and newspapers, printed mainly in London between 1640 and 1661, originally brought together by George Thomason, an important London bookseller and the friend of John Milton (1608-1674).

About the collection

Among the British Library's unrivalled collections for the study of British history are the Thomason Tracts, one of the most important sources relating to the turbulent period of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century. These are a vast collection of printed pamphlets, books, and newspapers, printed mainly in London between 1640 and 1661, originally brought together by George Thomason, an important London bookseller and the friend of John Milton.

The collection consists of over 22,000 printed items, bound in 2,000 volumes: not only are many now unique, but these copies also offer extra evidence in the form of Thomason's own annotations with publication dates and attributions of authorship.

The news pamphlets and newsbooks, which number over 7,200 and form just one part of the collection, provide detailed accounts of battles, negotiations, and political machinations.

What is available online?

Much of the material is now fragile and the original pamphlets are restricted from general Reading Room use. Full digital facsimiles are now available via Early English Books Online (EEBO) which is accessible onsite at St Pancras.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

A complete set of preservation microfilms exists and reels can be ordered at St Pancras only from on-site storage.

Microfilms of the broadside materials are kept on the open shelves in the Rare books and Music Reading room. Bound photocopies can also be ordered at St Pancras from on-site storage. Staff at the Rare Books Reference Enquiries Desk can advise about this.

What is available in other organisations?

In 1977, University Microfilms International of Ann Arbor, Michigan, published a microfilm edition of the collection under the title The Thomason Tracts, 1640-1661. This microfilm series is often held by larger research libraries.

How to guides

Researching newspapers

There are online newspaper resources available in the Newsroom, including both UK and international newspapers.

Researching television and radio news

We have been recording television and radio news programmes broadcast in the UK since May 2010 - only accessible in our Reading Rooms

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