Library resources for history students


The University Library houses the current working collections of printed material for historians. There are also older resources held in closed access stores but they can be requested on PRIMO or the catalogue.

Janet Mackay on Floor 4 of the Sir Duncan Rice Library is available during office hours to give advice and instruction on databases and finding print resources in the library. E-mail:

Special Collections

The Special Collections Centre on the Lower Ground Floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library houses the rare book collections, manuscripts and archives. Most of these collections are reference only and must be fetched for you. The opening hours are 09.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday.



Currently undergraduates and taught postgraduates can borrow 20 items, while research postgraduates can borrow 30. Students may have their borrowing allowances increased by obtaining a letter from their supervisor or a relevant member of academic staff in their department, and presenting it at the Information Centre on Floor 1.

Check your e-mail account regularly as we send you e-mails whenever someone requests a book you have on loan. If you don't, you could run up hefty fines which are £1.00 a day (75p a hour for Heavy Demand).

Undergraduates and postgraduates wishing to use other university libraries can join the SCONUL Access scheme and postgraduates may be allowed to borrow. Ask at the Information Centre on Floor 1 of the University Library for more information about the scheme.

You may also apply for a reader's ticket to consult material in the British Library (BL) or National Library of Scotland (NLS).

Binding of dissertations

A range of binding formats is available from the Print Shop in the University Library. Details of their prices and timescale are available on their web site. Please remember that it may take a little longer at submission times in May when hundreds of honours students are using the service. Do not leave it till the last day of submission as you may not get your thesis bound in time. The Print Shop is located on the Ground Floor of the University Library.



is the integrated way to search for printed, electronic and physical objects and archives from our various libraries, Special Collections and seven museums. PRIMO allows you to search the catalogue for printed material and our databases for electronic resources such as journal articles.

AU Library catalogue

Should you still wish to search our catalogue it is available either for searching separately or by clicking through from PRIMO.


This provides simultaneous access to the top university library catalogues in the UK Plus those of the British Library and National Library of Scotland. When our catalogue is unavailable (02.00 - 03.00), you can search it via Copac.


Finding Books and Journals

As a History student you will need to use books and journals, both in print and electronically. Books and journals tend to be kept together by subject on the same floor. Journals have Per (periodical) in front of their shelfmark to distinguish them from books.

Floor 3 of the University Library (UL) contains most of your needs for History. In addition to the History section, however, you should make use of resources in politics, sociology, economics etc. on Floor 6. The other floors in UL can also have relevant material.

  • Floor 5 has the history of science and medicine collections, marked SC in the catalogue.
  • Floor 4 has literature, sport, art, music and film.
  • Floor 7 has religion and philosophy.

Occasionally you will also have to use the Taylor Library which has law and official publications of the UK and the EU.

Find Databases
This is a link option from the Advanced Search page in Primo. Use this to identify databases in your subject area and link through to them to search across journal articles and electronic books.There are nearly 80 databases listed under History.

Access to online databases is restricted to Aberdeen University staff and students. Most are accessible with your University username and password using the Shibboleth authentication system. A very few however use the IP address of the university network so you must use either a campus networked PC or set your home PC to the University proxy server.

Secondary Sources


Over 1000 History e-books from reputable publishers. The databases has over 40,000 titles in all. Unlimited access so an entire class could access the same book simultaneously. You can print up to 40 pages per book, save highlights and notes and store books on your virtuall bookshelf. Copying and pasting is also possible and a full citation comes with the pasting. You cannot download books onto your own computer but instead store them on your Ebrary virtual bookshelf for as long as you need them. Access off campus is via Shibboleth so all you ahave to do is logon with your University username and password.


Journals in print have Per as a prefix in the shelfmark to distinguish them from books. Print runs going back to 1970 are on Floor 2. History journals have the shelfmark Per 900.

The majority of journals are now available electronically so often are not available on the shelves. There is a guide to finding e-journals.

Over 130 top History journals from the start to within 3 or 4 years. There are other sections that can also be useful so don't necessarily restrict your searching to History journals. Use other databases for up-to-date issues.

Cambridge Journals Online
Ignore the buttons saying institutional or free. We have access to all their journals. Back runs to back 2-5 years.

One of the biggest publishers who include Routledge and Cass among their group.

Oxford Journals Online
We have full-text access to those titles from OUP that we have print subscriptions including English Historical Review. Back issues are 2-8 years.

Full back files from this major publisher.

This has titles from Elsevier such as Journal of Medieval History.

This has back files as well as current issues.

Wiley/Blackwell Interscience
Usually only the last 2 years.

Primary Sources & Newspapers

Special Collections

The Special Collections Centre is located on the Lower Ground Floor and houses our rich collections of early printed material and manuscripts. Most of their material is for reference only and has to be fetched for you. Staff will also do the photocopying for you. Opening hours are restricted to 9.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday. Staff can be contacted in advance of a visit either by e-mail or by phone on 01224 272598.

British Periodicals parts I & II
This replaces many of the printed 19th century journals and magazines in our Lower Ground Floor which are so difficult to use quickly. A number of Irish journals are included in this collection. However, there will still be a need to consult the printed versions of the following as they are not covered by BP. British Periodicals can also be searched with the content of the Periodical Archive Online. PAO has 80 journals from the mid 17th century to the late 20th.

Burney Collection of 17th & 18th Century newspapers
Some newspapers and pamphlets which were the earliest form of newspapers in the UK.

Defining Gender
This full-text access to thousands of documents relating to gender studies from 1450 -1910. We have Part 1 ONLY.

Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Full-text access to most of the material published in English between 1470 and 1700. In includes the Thomason Tracts. While the main searching page suggests full-text access is to 12600 items this is misleading. Those titles have been keyed in in a certain way to allow fuller searching. Select Items with images(110,000 items) to search for the full-text of items which have been scanned in their original form. The entire database, over 126,000 items, is also searchable by keyword in title and subject term but will find items not available in full-text.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Access to around 150,000 works in English and some foreign languages published in the 18th century.

Empire Online
Primary documents covering British activities overseas from 1492-1967.

A free site devoted to primary sources for all European countries. There is a section on Europe itself.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
Full-text of papers from 1688-2004

Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Another excellent free site for primary sources. It subdivides into Ancient, Medieval and Modern with specialist sections on women, Islam, LGBT, Jews, India, Africa etc.

Jstor has over 8000 19th century pamphlets from British collections. In the Advanced search option tick the box for pamphlets to search this collection. It also has a few Irish journals form the 18th and early 19th centuries.

A gateway to free sources on medieval history

LION (Literature Online)
Around 350,000 works of prose, poetry and drama since 600 AD.

Medieval Sources Online
15 titles providing primary sources on themes such as the Black Death.

Another medieval source gateway.

New York Times
The archives are available in a drop down menu on the main NYT page. 1851-1922, 1987- articles are free. For material between 1923-1986 use the reference provided to look up our microfilm version. The reels are kept in brown boxes in the Microform Room on Floor 1. Machines to read and print the reels are found there.

19th century British Library newspapers
48 newspapers including the Aberdeen Journal covering the 19th century in all regions of Britain including a couple from Ireland

19th century periodicals
This is part 1 covering the topics of women and children and satire. Over 100 magazines are covered.

1817-1917, 22-24, 65-93. on microfilm
These are in the Microform Room on Floor 1 of the University Library. Please contact the Information Centre for further help. The online version is available to members of Aberdeen Public Library.

State Papers Online
Only parts 1 & 2 have been published so far out of 4. SPO provide access to English state documents and letters covering 1509-1603.

Statistical Accounts of Scotland
The two important surveys of Scotland done by parish. The first survey was conducted between 1791 and 1799 and the second between 1834 and 1845.
Click on the login button via UK Federation and then select University of Aberdeen as your institution. You will then be asked to logon with your university username and password. You can search either statistical account by parish or by keyword in the full-text.

Around a 350,000 images, old photographs, text from over 300 Scottish institutions which gives the database a strong but not exclusive Scottish flavour.

1785- 1991 on microfilm.
The reels are kept in brown boxes in the Microform Room on Floor 1 of the University Library. Machines to read and print microfilm are also found there. Please contact the Information Centre for further help. The online version is available through Aberdeen Public Library.

Reference Works


Art & Humanities Citation Index
This is part of the Web of Science which in turn is part of the Web of Knowledge from ISI. it is a general bibliography covering all Arts subjects and is vast. The SFX link button will search for an electronic or print version of what is listed.

International Medieval Bibliography
IP access only. This covers history from 400 to 1500.

Iter: gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Lists articles and books on medieval and Renaissance topics.

Before searching, untick the Science subject boxes at the bottom, retaining only the Social Science option as this contains History.


Dictionary of National Biography
Both online and in print in the General Reference area of QML. You don't need to know of a particular person. Use the text search or the Search - People option to search by date, occupation and keyword. Click on the References link on the left hand side when you have an article and you'll be able to check online if we have any of the suggested further readings.

Oxford English Dictionary
The OED is "the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium". It provides the meaning and history of over half a million words.

Reference management

RefWorks is an online bibliographic management package that allows you to create a personal database of references. In addition to storing your references you can create footnotes within your written work and create your bibliography in any citation style such as Harvard, Chicago etc.
Register first time to create you personal space on the system.