Books / Text

A wealth of books and texts can be accessed for research purposes, both online and onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. The diverse collections available for use include Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, Renaissance scriptures, India Office Lists, Privy Council Papers, as well as some 65,000 digitised volumes of 19th century books, including literature, historical and philosophical works.
Books / Text | 19th Century Books | Playbills (Single Sheet Digitisation) | Electronic Journals | Management and Business Studies Portal | Social Welfare Portal | Prakrit Manuscripts | Early Imprints from South East Asia | Punch Contributor Ledgers | Bibliotheca Laureshamensis by Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg | The Book of Margery Kemp | Europeana 1914-1918 Project | School of Salamanca | Stainforth Volumes | Privy Council Papers | John Gower Manuscripts | David Livingstone Correspondence | Wrongdoing in Spain | Ramayana Digital Reunification Project | Anglo-Saxon Cartularies | BL-Yale Indian Papers Collaboration | Irish Manuscripts | Romances of Chivalry Microfilms | India Office Lists | Peter Lombard’s Sentences | Italian Exultet Rolls | King John's Papers | French Manuscripts Project | Yale Digitally Enabled Scholarship with Medieval Manuscripts (DESMM) | Aelfric Anglo-Saxon Project | Henryson's Textuality | Anglo-Norman Project | Piero Della Francesco | Digitised Newspapers | Shakespeare Documented | Acuerdo Dialogyca | SE Asian Digital Library | Piers Plowman Electronic Archive

19th Century Books

68,000 digitised volumes (around 25 million pages) published between 1789 and 1914 cover a wide range of subject areas including philosophy, history, poetry and literature. The nineteenth century books are on a 30TB storage device with the original JP2000, PDFs, XML and OCR files in Alto format. We are currently in the process of extracting all OCRd text from the 25 million pages.

Here is a presentation given by Adrian Edwards from the British Library at our launch event:



Possible ideas: Text mining

If you require some basic metadata for this collection, please contact us.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Playbills (Single Sheet Digitisation)

Single sheet digitisation project aims to improve access to rare material such as play bills, printers’ samples, illustrations or articles.100,000 ‘single sheet’ collections within British and Early Printed Collections, bound into approximately 500 collections(placeholder)

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Electronic Journals

The British Library has over 8000 subscriptions to electronic journals for use on-site at the British Library. We have negotiated text-mining for research purposes for over 40% of these journals. If you have an interesting research idea in mind, please contact us and we will give you further details of the journals we have available for text mining and the conditions by which they can be used.

Management and Business Studies Portal

Contains full text research reports, summaries, working papers, videos and exclusive articles by leading researchers and consultants to help you get timely access to emerging research findings that you can download and read immediately. As well as these digital documents, you'll find details of books, journal articles, reports, websites, datasets, sound recordings, videos and other resources from the British Library's collections that are relevant to your search - all in one easy-to use results list. Please feel free to browse this collection here.

Collection level metadata for all the free to use PDF document for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Possible ideas: Text mine the corpus of 1000s of .pdf documents stored in the portal

Access Conditions

Please email labs@bl.uk

Social Welfare Portal

The portal includes a high quality collection of full text research and evaluation reports, Parliamentary papers, consultations and policy proposals selected by our social policy curators and available for immediate download.As well as these digital documents, you’ll find details of books, journal articles, official papers, theses, archived websites and datasets in the British Library’s collections. Our monthly current awareness bulletin, Welfare Reform Digest, keeps you up to date with the latest policy debates, controversies and developments through abstracts from research monographs and articles in academic journals, professional magazines, and quality national newspapers. Please feel free to browse this collection here.

Collection level metadata for all the free to use .pdf document for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Possible ideas: Text mine the corpus of 1000s of .pdf documents stored in the portal

Access Conditions

Please email labs@bl.uk

Prakrit Manuscripts

Concieved in 2007, this project aims to raise public awareness about the Jain faith and facilitate research into the history of the Jain faith and the civilisation that gave rise to it. To this end Jainpedia hosts a large digital collection of manuscripts relating to the Jain faith along with detailed contextual material. Please feel free to browse this collection.

Access Conditions

cc-0 logo.png
The British library's contribution is under a Creative Commons: Public Domain licence.

Early Imprints from South East Asia

A collection of digitised books form Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam printed between the early 19th century and 1922. This collection is hosted at the South East Asia Digital Library, an online repository administered by the Northern Illanois University Libraries. Please feel free to browsethis collection here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
The British library's contribution is in the public domain in most countries.

Punch Contributor Ledgers

Unlike many of the periodicals of the periodicals writen in the Victorian era, punch magasine kept ledgers of its contributors. Introdced in 1843 these ledgers provide rare insight into the social and professional networks surrounding the litterary marketplace of the 19th century. The digital archive is part of a project by Liverpool John Moores University aiming to faclitate research into the ledgers.Please feel free to browse this collection here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.pngcc-0 logo.png
This material has been cleared for access under CC-PD or CC-0 licences. For details of a specific item's copyright status please contact us.

Bibliotheca Laureshamensis by Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital: Virtual Monastic Library of Lorsch is a project that aims to virtually reconstruct the library of Abby Lorsch, a UNESCO world heritage site from the early middle ages. The virtual library contains over 300 mediaeval manuscripts of which the British Library contributed 10. Two more manuscripts that, according to
Bernhard Bischoff and/or Hartmut Hoffmann are not connected with Lorsch, are available as well. Please feel free to browse this collection here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
The British library's contribution is in the public domain in most countries.

The Book of Margery Kemp

This project aims to provide a complete digital facsimile and transcription of the book of Margery Kemp, a manuscript that has become a major text in mediaeval studies. Please feel free to browse this item.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.pngcc-0 logo.png
The both digital facsimile and the transcription are in the public domain in most countries.

Europeana 1914-1918 Project

A very detailed collection focusing on material from the First World War, hosted by the British Library and aggregated by Europeana.

Digitised content consisting of 240,000 images from 15 collection groups including - Printed fiction and non-fiction; ‘Official’ histories; song-sheets; Troop magazines; Internment camp programmes etc; propaganda, recruiting posters; Troop photos prior to embarkation; propaganda maps & post-cards; poetical and composers’ MSS; MS papers & correspondence relating to civil society and to Military leaders, Politicians, and Newspaper Editors in Britain during the War; propaganda dropped by balloon over Germany; scrap-books of ephemera (leaflets, Christmas cards, in memoriam cards, satirical pieces, caricatures); RLF applications during the War and plays submitted for censorship during the War.

You can access the collection here.

Access Conditions

88x31 (1).png
The collection is avalable under a CC-BY-SA license

School of Salamanca

The digitised collection consists of 2 books for The School of Salamanca. A Digital Collection of Sources and a Dictionary of its Juridical-Political Language online resource.

The name is referring to the University of Salamanca where Spanish and Portuguese addressed the concept of man’s relation to God, a notion which during the 16th century was assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences. These new problems were addressed through studies on the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria.

Information about the project can be found here. The collection is available at the British Library's Reading Rooms.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Stainforth Volumes

Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866) is known for owning the largest digital private library of books by women authors. This digital collections holds 3 of Stainforth’s scrapbooks. In collaboration with University of Colorado Boulder Libraries.

Information on the Project can be found here. Access to the manuscripts can be obtained through this link. One of the manuscripts can be browsed here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Privy Council Papers

Digitised ‘Printed Papers’ of Appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), which was the final court of appeal for the British empire and later, for several countries of the Commonwealth. The ‘Printed Papers in appeal’ are detailed ‘case-records’ associated with appeal cases heard by the JCPC, which supplement the judgements.

Information and a list of the Privy Council Papers can be found here. In the same website a database is under construction. The Privy Council Papers can also be accessed on request in the British Library's
Social Science Reading Room.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain in most countries.

John Gower Manuscripts

John Gower (1330 - 1408) was an English poet. He is remembered primarily for three major works, the Mirour de l'Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis, three long poems written in French, Latin, and English respectively, which are united by common moral and political themes.

Information about the John Gower Manuscripts can be found in the John Gower Society Website. Some of his manuscripts can be found on the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain.


David Livingstone Correspondence

David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a missionary, doctor and African explorer. Throughout his life he had explored the interior of central and southern Africa. His initial aim was to spread Christianity and bring commerce and "civilisation" to these regions but his later missions were more concerned with exploration. Livingstone was a keen and accurate observer; he was also a prolific writer and his journals, letters and published narratives provide observations on African diseases such as tropical ulcer, scurvy and malaria.

The collection can by browsed here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png88x31(2).png
The published material of the collection belongs to the Public Domain but the unpublished material is under a CC-BY license.

Wrongdoing in Spain

Usually referred to in English as chap-books, and in Spanish as sueltos, or pliegos sueltos (loose leaves or folded loose leaves), these predecessors of the yellow press provide a fascinating bird’s eye view of popular culture from the 18th century onwards. They show us, among other things, versions of how forms of wrongdoing (of different kinds, and of different degrees of severity) were perceived, or were presented to the populace as constructed forms of wrongdoing.

The sueltos were digitised by the British Library on behalf of the University of Cambridge.

Please feel free to browse the collection.

Access Condition

CC-PD.png
This material is in the public domain.


Ramayana Digital Reunification Project

The Ramayana – “Rama’s journey” - is one of India’s oldest stories. It was first told in the Sanskrit epic poem of Valmiki some two and a half thousand years ago. Since then it has been retold over and over in different forms in many languages of India and beyond. The Ramayana is India’s best-loved story, full of poignant moments and fascinating characters. ad the frantic search for her.

Ramayana story embodies the Hindu idea of dharma – duty, behaving correctly according to one’s position and role in society. The Ramayana is therefore both a great human story and a central text of Hindu devotionalism.

The original of the Mewar Ramayana, one of the manuscripts of the collection, was prepared for Maharana Jagat Singh, the ruler of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar in Rajasthan, in the middle of the seventeenth century. Most volumes of the manuscript are now in the British Library. They were presented by Maharana Bhim Singh of Mewar to Colonel James Tod who brought them back to Britain in 1823. Other parts have remained in India, held today in three separate institutions and one private collection.

View the reunified Mewar Ramayana in British Library's Turning the Pages here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Anglo-Saxon Cartularies

Cartularies are medieval manuscripts and are considered one of the best sources for life in Middle Ages. Typically compiled by religious communities, secular corporations or wealthy families, the books in question contain copies of charters and related documents, supplying evidence of landholding, legal transactions and day-to-day business.

Information on the project can be found here. The collection is available in the British Library's Reading Rooms.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

BL-Yale Indian Papers Collaboration

A bound collection of deeds of land conveyance signed by Indian Sachems between 1659 and 1711. A collaboration between the British Library and Yale University.

Information about the project as well as a link to a Beta edition of a database can be found here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Irish Manuscripts

A catalogue of Irish Manuscripts created by Staindish Hayes O'Grady, Robin Flower and Myles Dillon.

The manuscripts are available to browse online.

A link to the collection will follow.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC0 license.

Romances of Chivalry Microfilms

A collection of 9 British Library microfilms of pre-1601 Hispanic books containing early Spanish romance. The project has been completed for the University of Wisconsin - Madison Library.

A corpus of the books can be found here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

India Office Lists

Digitised by the British Library are 124 printed volumes of India Office Lists (1860-1947) from the India Office Records.

The collection can be accessed through the British LIbrary's Reading Rooms.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Peter Lombard’s Sentences

Of the writings of Peter Lombard (born in Lombardy c. 1100, died as archbishop of Paris in 1160) the most famous was his Sentences, a systematic compendium of theology in four books.

A link to the collection is to follow.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Italian Exultet Rolls

The Exsultet (Exultet) or Easter Proclamation is the hymn of praise sung, ideally by a deacon, before the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. The British Library has contributed in digitising an Italian Exultet Roll in collaboration with the University of Bari.

You can browse the digitised exultet roll here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

King John's Papers

King John (1199–1216) is best remembered for granting Magna Carta in June 1215, although he sought its annulment almost immediately. The youngest son of Henry II, John succeeded his brother, Richard I, as King of England in 1199. His reign was marked by a string of unsuccessful military campaigns, a prolonged struggle with the Church and the baronial rebellion which led to Magna Carta.

Please feel free to browse.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

French Manuscripts Project

French Literature has been known to extend outside the borders of France. Francophone manuscripts can be found all over Europe.

Information on the project can be found here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Yale Digitally Enabled Scholarship with Medieval Manuscripts (DESMM)

The collection the British Library holds consists of manuscripts that were collected by Robert Harley (d 1724) and Edward Harley (d 1741). 1st and 2nd Earls of Oxford. The collection numbers 2 manuscripts.

In order to browse the collection please follow this link and after clicking on 'load window' select the British Library's collection.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Aelfric Anglo-Saxon Project

A project conducted by the University of Stanford in collaboration with the University of Glasgow. The collection includes 5 manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon homilies. A homily is a commentary usually following the reading of the scripture usually given during Mass.

Information on the project can be found here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Henryson's Textuality

Robert Henryson (1439-1506) is known as the 'Scottish Chaucer'.
One of his manuscripts can be found here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Anglo-Norman Project

Includes an anonymous treatise on the love of God, followed by three religious poems written as prose: a prayer to Christ, beginning 'O douz dieu, verray lyesse'; a hymn to the Virgin, beginning 'O ne doit pas estre ublie'; a poem on the Cross, beginning 'En deduaunt au mois de may'.
Scott (2008) associates the initials with the artist of Oxford, All Souls Library 10, a New Testament produced between 1415-1430, probably in London.

The manuscript is available here.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Piero Della Francesco

De Prospectiva Pingendi (On the Perspective for Painting) is a Renaissance mathematical book about perspective inpainting, written by the Italian master Piero della Francesca. The scripture was written around 1480 by Piero della Francesca, but was released in bookform first in 1899.

The digitised manuscript is available at the British Library's Reading Rooms.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a CC-PD license.

Digitised Newspapers

Please see our News Media collection guides.


Shakespeare Documented

35 items from the British Library collections

The items from the British Library collections can be found here:
www.shakespearedocumented.org

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material is under a PD license with copyright notice for unpublished material.

Acuerdo Dialogyca

Early Hispanic printed books (digitisation).

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material can be accessed under a public domain license.

SE Asian Digital Library

Online publication of 19th SE Asian published books via Northern Illinois University project - Southeast Asia Digital Library (SEADL).

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material can be accessed under a public domain license.

Piers Plowman Electronic Archive

Digitisation of 4 medieval manuscripts of Piers Plowman texts.

Access Conditions

CC-PD.png
This material can be accessed under a public domain license.