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The Easter Rising 1916-2016 in the IHR Library


This post was compiled by the IHR Library’s Collection Librarian Michael Townsend and Graduate Trainee Siobhan Morris

Over the fine building of the G.P.O. floated a great green flag with the words “Irish Republic” on it in large white letters…and a big placard announced “The Headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic”‘ (Correspondence of Mrs Hamilton Norway, 25th April 1916 in The Sinn Fein Rebellion as they Saw It, p. 39)

Over the last couple of months, communities throughout Ireland and across the world have been marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. This post will highlight some of the works available in the IHR library not only recounting the events of those days in April 1916, but also those that consider the subsequent impact the Rising would have on Irish historiography and the historical culture of modern Ireland.

Eye Witness Testimony
Within the library’s Irish collection there are an array of diaries and memoirs from individual authors, for example: the account of Joe Good, a Londoner who enlisted as an Irish Volunteer and who would be stationed in the General Post Office throughout the course of the Rising, the Irish volunteer W. J. Brennan-Whitmore and the diaries of Seosamh de Brún and British officer, Major S. H. Lomas included in Mick O’Farrell’s The 1916 Diaries of an Irish Rebel and a British Soldier. Civilian accounts can be found in the letters of Mrs Hamilton Norway, who had recently moved to Dublin with her civil servant husband and in the accounts of women recorded within Women in Ireland, 1800-1918: a documentary history compiled by Maria Luddy. In addition, although neither a diary nor a memoir, researchers can gain some insight into one of the leaders of the Rising, James Connolly, by consulting a selection of his writings.
The library also has a selection of published collective accounts of the Rising. The accounts published in Keith Jeffery’s The GPO and the Easter Rising give voice to not only the Irish Volunteers who commandeered the building as their headquarters, but also to the bystanders who were working and using the post-office on that Easter Monday. In addition, a number of general source collections have been made possible in recent years when in 2003 the Irish Government’s Bureau of Military History released a multitude of witness statements taken in the 1940s and 50s by participants in the Rising. This forms the basis of the works Witnesses: inside the Easter Rising by Annie Ryan and Rebels: voices from the Easter Rising by Fearghal McGarry who both present selections from this newly available body of source material.







The Trials of 1916

Although the Rising was swiftly quelled by the British Army, the subsequent court-martial, executions and imprisonments and the way they were conducted, would help ensure those executed became seen as martyrs of the Irish Republic and change public attitudes towards the Rising – not only in Ireland, but also Britain, the United States and beyond. General accounts of the Court Martial proceedings can be found in Seán Enright’s Easter Rising 1916: the trials, Brian Barton’s From Behind a Closed Door: secret court martial records of the 1916 Easter Rising, and Piaras Mac Lochlainn’s Last Words: letters and statements of the leaders executed after the Rising at Easter 1916. Not all who were arrested, however, were executed. The prison account of the nationalist journalist, Darrell Figgis, gives an insight into the life of those would be interned in Ireland and Britain in the aftermath of the Rising.

The Rising’s Influence after 1916
The rising has both been, and continues to be, a contested issue in the historiography of modern Ireland as well as a focus for commemoration and national identity. A number of works in the library’s Irish historiography collection consider both the scholarly debates about the Rising and its impact on Irish society as a whole throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Recently published, Who’s Afraid of the Easter Rising? 1916-2016 by James Heartfield and Kevin Rooney charts the impact of the rising both in Irish historiography and Irish collective memory over the past century, while Richard Grayson and Fearghal McGarry’s work, Remembering 1916: the Easter Rising, the Somme and the politics of memory in Ireland compares perceptions of the memory of the Rising with another event of 1916 that would have a profound impact on parts of Ireland, the Battle of the Somme. Mark McCarthy’s study, Ireland’s 1916 Rising: explorations of history-making, commemoration and heritage looks at how the Rising has been presented and re-invented over the last century with a special focus on the commemoration years of 1966, 2006 and 2016.

– For further details of the library’s holdings concerning the Easter Rising of 1916 please click on the interactive image gallery below.

– The IHR library has also compiled a guide to Irish History in the collections of the library, with additional information concerning the collection more generally.

-A special virtual issue of Historical Research drawing together a series of articles and podcasts on the theme of Anglo-Irish relations is also available for a limited period.






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Highlights from the Scottish Local History Collections in the IHR Library


Following the completion of the reclassification project for the Scottish local collection, the IHR Library team have discovered some exciting volumes within the library’s holdings. Examples of some of these are detailed below.

The Book of DumbartonThe Book of Dumbartonshire: a history of the county, burghs, parishes, and lands, memoirs of families, and notices of industries carried on in the Lennox district.

This three volume work by Joseph Irving dates from 1879 and comprises a comprehensive history of the region, complemented by in-depth parish reports and intricate maps. The work encompasses genealogical history, ecclesiastical notes and architectural observations on the area. In addition, the volumes include multiple images and illustrations beautifully documenting the history of Dumbartonshire.

Caledonia: or, A historical and topographical account of North Britain, from the most ancient to the present times with a dictionary of places chorographical and philological. 


This eight volume work by George Chalmers includes maps of the country, a dictionary of places and also documents civil, agricultural, ecclesiastical, and trade history. The library’s copy of the work also contains a wonderful array of ephemeral sources including marginalia, newspaper cuttings and letters. Of particular interest, is a letter dating from June 1900 from Paisley-based publisher Alexander Gardner detailing the trials of attempting to publish for the first time an index volume to accompany the work and the time-scale of publication for the final volume.

List of the Deans of Guild of the city of Edinburgh from M.CCCC.III to M.DCCC.IC: with introductory remarks. 

deansDespite being just eighteen pages long, this work is nonetheless a valuable and rare holding in the library’s collections. Drawn up by Thomas George Stevenson in 1890, only fifty copies were printed for private circulation. The volume is an insight into the trading history of Edinburgh from 1403-1890. It includes an introduction to the origins of the word ‘Gild (with its varieties, Gield, Gilde, Gulde, Gyld)’, the origin of the gilde of the city of Edinburgh, a list of the ‘Denes of Gilde’ of the city of Edinburgh, and ‘a list of publications as to the guildry’. The library holds copy number one and the volume also bears an inscription from the compiler Thomas George Stevenson, who was then secretary to the Council of the Guildry of the City of Edinburgh, to the Right Honourable John Inglis Lord Justice General.

Map of the Environs of Edinburgh


This single map of Edinburgh published in Edinburgh and Glasgow by John Menzies & Co. was an intriguing find during the reclassification project. Whilst the map itself unfortunately bears no date, the work has been in the IHR Library collections since 1922 when it was gifted to the library as part of the Martin Conway bequests. Measuring 56cm x 44cm with a scale of 2 miles to an inch, the map encompasses not only Edinburgh but also as far as Peebles in the south, Fife in the north and Alloa in the west.








For more information on holdings, click on the additional illustrations and maps from the works detailed above.

For more information on the Library’s Scottish and Scottish local collections more generally, please refer to the Scottish History collection guide.

More information on the Martin Conway Bequest is available on the collections pages of the IHR website: 

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Library Trial of Bridgeman Education Picture Library


Bridgeman Education homepage

Bridgeman Education homepage

Until 30 April, readers in the IHR library will be able to access a trial version of Bridgeman Education, an online database of over 1.5 million images cleared for educational use. It’s not necessarily the sort of resource that we usually look at for the online collections, but we are aware of how difficult it can be to search for historical visual materials, either for research or for use in teaching, talks, theses and other educational contexts. This may be one solution to that need. And even if not, it’s certainly interesting to look at (for a topical search, try [Easter Cards]).

The trial can be accessed via the library PCs at this address

We will be looking at other potential new resources from time to time, so please let us know what you think of this database or suggest other resources via

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Albert Gallatin and the politics of the early United States


This documents the exhibition held at Senate House Library 1 Oct – 27 November 2015 with items from Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research collections. The exhibition was curated by Benjamin Bankhurst, Postdoctoral Fellow in North American History at the School of Advanced Study 2014-2015 with assistance from Mura Ghosh and the conservation team at Senate House Library.

Front leaf from Laws of the Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaRepublished by Alexander James Dallas, Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1793 Vol. 2.

Several items in the US collections once belonged to prominent early American statesman Albert Gallatin (1761-1849). These works came to the libraries as part of the Conway bequests of the 1920s and 30s and represent a selection of Gallatin’s – much larger – personal library. This small exhibition celebrates items in our collections relating to Gallatin’s political career. Gallatin played a significant role in the political and economic debates of the United States during the Antebellum period.



Gallatin portrait

From The life of Albert Gallatin Henry Adams Philadelphia; London: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1879 – SHL

Albert Gallatin was born into a prominent merchant family in Geneva where he spent his childhood and adolescence. Orphaned at an early age, he spent much of his youth as a student in residency at the Geneva Academy. His enthusiasm for French philosophers, especially Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the magnetic draw American revolutionary ideology led the young Gallatin to consider sailing for the United States. In 1780, at the age of 19, Gallatin arrived in Boston and later settled in western Pennsylvania.

It was in Pennsylvania that he first became embroiled in the fractious politics of the new nation. In 1790 he won a seat in the state senate before becoming a US senator for Pennsylvania in 1793. He was later elected to the House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 12th district, an office he occupied from 1795 to 1801. Gallatin was instrumental in negotiating the peaceful resolution of the Whiskey Rebellion, a protest movement in western Pennsylvania. As a resident of the western counties with a track record of opposition to the Federalist bloc in congress, Gallatin and helped to convince many of the movement’s leaders to stand down before the arrival of Federal troops.

He became the Republican party leader in the House and was a leading critic of the Adams administration and the national debt. Following the spectacular electoral victory of Thomas Jefferson and his Republican allies in 1800, Gallatin was appointed the fourth Secretary of the Treasury. In 1816 he helped charter the Second Bank of the United States. He then spent most of the subsequent decade abroad, first as the US Minister to France (1816-1823) and then to Britain (1826-27). Upon returning to the United States, Gallatin spent the last twenty years of his life in Astoria, New York.

Throughout his career Gallatin pursued projects to promote learning and the Arts in his adopted country. He first developed an interest in the ecology and geography of North America as well as Native American culture while studying at the Geneva Academy. He maintained an interest in these subjects throughout his career in the United States. In 1803 and 1804, he helped plan the Lewis and Clark expedition to the lands acquired by the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. During his New York years, after he had retired from political office, Gallatin became involved in several civic and national improvement campaigns. In 1831 he backed efforts to found a university for New York’s growing commercial classes. The result was the establishment of New York University. Gallatin also became the President of the American Ethnological and New York Historical Societies. He published two works on Native American culture: A Table of Indian Languages of the United States (1826) and Synopsis of the Indian Tribes of North America (New York, 1836). Finally, he continued to write pamphlets and deliver speeches on national economic and political issues, many of them having to do with the western expansion of the United States (for example, he published a pamphlet on the peace with Mexico in 1848).


The United States and the French Republic, 1794-1800

General Report of such vessels of the United States as have been taken... by the French, 1796, bound with other pamplets in: ‘Reports Etc., 1 Session, 7 Congress – 1801-2’ (vol. 1)

General Report of such vessels of the United States as have been taken… by the French, 1796, bound with other pamplets in: ‘Reports Etc., 1 Session, 7 Congress – 1801-2’ (vol. 1) – IHR

The French Republic, suspicious of America’s policy of neutrality during the wars between Britain and France following the signing of the Jay Treaty, begun to attack American shipping in the Atlantic. This official report was published by the government of the United States and shows where US ships were captured, where they were taken, and what happened to them. The foreign policy pursued by the John Adams Administration was central to partisan political atmosphere of the late 1790s.




The relationship between the French Republic and the United States deteriorated throughout the late 1790s. In 1794, the US and British governments signed the Jay Treaty, an action that undermined the proclaimed neutrality of The United States in the ongoing conflict between Britain in France. In 1796, the French Republic refused to receive American envoys unless they were willing to pay bribes. When this was revealed to the American public during the “XYZ Affair”, a firestorm of anti-French sentiment swept the nation, temporarily increasing support for the Federalist Administration of John Adams. Gallatin, and other immigrants were singled-out as foreign sympathisers during this period. This pamphlet outlines the instructions of the American envoys that were originally sent to negotiate with the French Republic.




Politics and the New Nation


The federalist: a collection of essays New-York: printed and sold by J. and A. McLean, 1788 Porteus Library RDb/Ham – SHL

In March and April 1788, New York publisher J. & A. MacLean, published the first bound collection of the Federalist papers. The two volumes held in Special Collections at Senate House Library were published by the MacLeans and date from the period of the ratification debate. Albert Gallatin sided with the Anti-Federalists during the ratification debate. Like many in the Anti-Federalist camp, he argued that the document did not provide adequate safeguards for the preservation of liberty. Many of his concerns would be addressed with the passing of the first ten amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights) after the Constitution was ratified.


The 1790s were a turbulent decade for the early American Republic. The passions that raged during the debate over the ratification of the US Constitution were channelled into increasingly partisan political debates in the years that followed. The decade also witnessed the spread of radical ideologies throughout Europe as a result of the French Revolution, a development that many in the Federalist Party thought might ultimately destabilize the United States. In this tense political environment, prominent immigrants, especially those with radical sympathies, became targets of the Federalist Press. William Cobbett, a pro-British writer and publisher, attacked Gallatin for his support of Jefferson and the Republicans, his “French” manners, and his questionable loyalty to his adopted country. Gallatin is depicted as a luxurious Frenchman (he was actually from Geneva) representing “Whiskeyland” (western Pennsylvania, where an armed rebellion against federal taxes took place in 1791). There is some controversy over the image depicted here, it either represents Albert Gallatin or, more likely, Thomas Paine in front of a Guillotine – a reminder of the fate that might befall the United States if Jefferson and the “friends of France” ever came to power.


The Republicans in Power


Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury accompanying a report Published by the order of the House of Representatives [s.n.], 21st December 1801. Bound in volume Reports of the Treasury 1801-13 – IHR

Thomas Jefferson and his supporters swept into power during the election of 1800. In 1801, Albert Gallatin was appointed the 4th Secretary of the Treasury and was responsible, in large part, for the implementation of Jefferson’s economic policies. Land and the western expansion of agriculture were key to Jefferson’s vision for the country as an agrarian republic. The sale of western lands, one of the central revenue-raising measures pursued under Jefferson’s leadership, therefore had the dual benefit of spreading republican virtue, a quality the Jeffersonians believed was rooted in land ownership while simultaneously providing the government with money. These government reports show the sale of government land in Ohio.


An Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States Philadelphia: Printed by order of the Board of directors (William Fry, printer), 1816 [G.L.] E.816 – SHL

The establishment of the Bank of the United States became another issue over which the two main political parties of the 1790s (Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans) clashed over. The Federalists argued that the Bank was crucial to the encouragement of American industry, while the Republicans argued that it benefited rich merchants over the majority of population and that it eroded the republican virtue of the agrarian republic. In 1811 the senate allowed the charter of the first Bank of the United States to expire. While he had initially opposed the Bank while in congress, Gallatin changed his mind and became a supporter of the re-establishment of the bank in 1816.


The Northeast Border Dispute


Maine North Eastern boundary Pamphlets vol. 1 . Bound in volume Resolutions of the legislature of the State of Maine – IHR

This 1832 map, one of five in a bound volume containing fifteen pamphlets relating to the Northeastern Boundary Dispute (1783-1842), shows three proposed borderlines between Canada and the United States. The red line represents the British/Canadian claim and the green the American position. The yellow line denotes the compromise solution recommended by the third party arbitrator in the dispute – William I, King of the Netherlands. Though rejected by the American negotiators when it was first proposed in 1831, the Dutch compromise (with a few alterations benefiting the British) was ultimately accepted by the United States in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. This volume was once owned by Gallatin.

This pamphlet calling for the reform of the Bank of Upper Canada was sent to Gallatin in 1830 by controversial Canadian politician, William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861). Mackenzie is best known as the first mayor of Toronto and for the role he played in the failed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8. During the rebellion Mackenzie led an expedition of rebels to the outskirts of Toronto in 1837 and later declared himself the head of the ‘Canadian Republic’ before the rising was put down by British troops in January 1838. The inscription on this pamphlet reads, ‘To the Honourable Albert Gallatin, New York. York, Upper Canada, June 26, 1830. With W.L. Mackenzie’s Compliments’.


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History of Scotland in the IHR Library


– New research guide for the Scottish and Scottish Local Collections –

Frank E Jamieson, Scottish Lake Landscape in front of Mountains

Frank E Jamieson, Scottish Lake Landscape in front of Mountains

The Institute of Historical Research Library team have recently compiled a guide to the Library’s Scottish history holdings. The guide gives an overview of both the Scottish and Scottish local collections, provides details of classmarks and locations of materials, and highlights selected themes within the collections.

The Library’s Scotland holdings contain significant collections of travel diaries, private correspondence and diaries. In addition, the collection also holds a large selection of the records of Scottish government dating from the medieval period to the end of the seventeenth century alongside a collection of biographical reference works.

The collections also comprise strong holdings in Scottish local history, as well as a selected collection of journals and periodicals relating to the history of Scotland. Diaries-Image

The guide complements and refers to other collections within the Library, most notably the general British collection and the Colonial Africa and North American collections – both of which contain several items relating to the emigration and exploration of Scots around the world. The guide concludes with details of other relevant libraries and institutions with extensive holdings on the history of Scotland.

1747 La Feuille Map of Scotland

1747 La Feuille Map of Scotland


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Overruling the duke in the IHR Library


Dr Stuart Handley of the History of Parliament writes about an eighteenth-century pamphlet in the IHR Library. This collection of pamphlets was bound using a donation to the conservation fund.

Collection-of-papersAmong the IHR’s holdings of historical pamphlets is one from the early eighteenth century called, simply, A Collection of Papers. As the library catalogue shows, it was published in 1712 and starts by reprinting Bishop William Fleetwood’s preface to his “Four Sermons” (first published in the same year); running on from that, however, are some papers of interest to me as a historian of parliament which relate to debates of 1712 concerning the war with France. The IHR was given this copy of the pamphlet by Dr Doreen Milne, whose doctoral thesis on The Rye House Plot is in the library.

divisionDr Clyve Jones, formerly a librarian at the IHR, has already drawn attention to one of the items, a division list for a vote in the House of Lords of 28 May 1712. The matter at issue was whether to address Queen Anne with a request that she overrule the orders sent to the duke of Ormonde in Flanders not to engage with the French army. No political historian had previously realised that the pamphlet contained such important material. Clyve published the division list in his article on ‘The vote in the House of Lords on the Duke of Ormonde’s “Restraining Orders”, 28 May 1712’, in Parliamentary History, 26 (2007), pp. 160-183.

The pamphlet could not easily be made available to readers in the library as it needed conservation. I knew about it from my previous role in the IHR library, and have recently paid for the pamphlet to be conserved. It has now been placed into a secure binding and is kept in the IHR library’s special collections store. The pamphlet can also be viewed on Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), available at the IHR through JISC Historic Texts.


The IHR is extremely grateful to Dr Handley for his generous support of the library. If you would like to give to the library’s conservation fund, there is much material on the open shelves in need of conservation. Further information about giving to the IHR library is available at

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Archaeology in the Collections of the IHR Library


Following work from Daniel Cesarani during his time volunteering within the IHR Library, the Library team have recently compiled a guide to the Library’s Archaeology holdings.

Brough Castle Keep

Brough Castle Keep

The guide provides a general overview of the Library’s archaeological holdings, details where the collections can be located and documents selected topics within the collection. The themes that are highlighted include archaeological dig reports, guides to excavations and archaeological society reports and proceedings. In particular, the collection holds works detailing the archaeology of the city of London. The collection guide also provides details of the Library’s holdings on the theory of archaeology and the study of material culture more generally.

The guide complements and refers to other collections within the Library, most notably the Maps and British collections, whilst also suggesting other relevant libraries and institutions with extensive holdings on archaeology.

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A Tour of the IHR Library’s North American Collections


Last week the IHR Library welcomed a group of final year undergraduate students from Kings College London for a tour of the Library and an introduction to the collections. The students were all researching North American history, with most currently undertaking dissertation projects surrounding the American Revolution. Therefore, the North American Collections Library was booked for the group in order to allow for an extensive tour of the North American collections and a subsequent discussion of the remit and scope of the collections.

Collection Librarian Michael Townsend providing an introduction to the classmark arrangement of the North American collections


Following this introductory overview, each student discussed their personal research topic with relevant source materials in the IHR Library’s collections suggested by both our Collection Librarian, Michael Townsend and KCL Teaching Fellow in North American History, Dr Angel-Luke O’Donnell.

Items of interest and significance were also brought down from the IHR’s onsite store ahead of the visit in order for the students to engage fully with the collection and to allow them access to a selection of the Library’s rarer holdings.

Examples included The George Washington Atlas: a collection of eighty-five maps including twenty-eight made by George Washington, seven used and annotated by him and eight made at his direction and Exploring with Lewis and Clark: the 1804 journal of Charles Floyd. William Wirt Henry’s, Patrick Henry: life, correspondence and speeches was also made available from the Library’s Special Collections.

Tower Rock, by Karl Bodmer in Lewis and Clark’s Expedition Journal

George Washington’s sketch map of the country he traversed in 1753-4

Dr Angel-Luke O’Donnell suggesting sources in the IHR collections for students to use during their dissertation research

To round off the visit, the group were afforded the opportunity to browse the shelves and ask library staff any remaining queries. We wish all the students well with their respective research projects and hope to see them all back using the Library’s extensive North American holdings in the near future!

For more information on the Library’s North American collections please consult the collections guide for United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library.

In addition, information on locating and researching North American resources across London is available on the dedicated North American section of the History Collections Blog.

Tours of the Library are available for groups of any size and can encompass a general introduction to the Library or focus upon a specific area of the collections to suit research interests and needs. Please contact the library with any queries or to arrange a tour:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7862 8760         Email:

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History of Colonial Africa in the IHR Library


Following on from the work of the Library’s previous Graduate Trainee David Phillips, we have recently been able to complete a guide to the Library’s collections on the history of colonial Africa.

Nova Africa Descriptio, 1660

The guide provides an overview of holdings, details the locations of relevant materials and identifies selected themes and strengths within the collection. The IHR holds significant materials on the early European exploration of the continent, with journals and correspondence from explorers and missionaries as well as reports from expeditions. In addition, governmental reports and colony yearbooks also form a significant strand of the Library’s holdings. The collections also include a number of maps documenting the continent and its changing territorial boundaries.

The guide is designed to help researchers new to the IHR’s collections but those already familiar with the collections may also discover something new. The guide complements and refers to other related collections within the Library, most notably the Military and International Relations collections, as well as other organisations around London with significant holdings on the history of colonial Africa.

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New Exhibition in the IHR Library


A new exhibition of the Institute of Historical Research Library’s collection of poll books has gone on display in the IHR Library. This small exhibition highlights the diverse nature of the collection with items documenting electoral registers and rolls, how constituencies polled and an example demonstrating the way in which popular songs and speeches were appropriated during election campaigns.main

The exhibition also features an exceptionally rare example of an electoral register from the county of Somerset which contains extensive marginalia, hand-written letters and notes throughout. Each voter has their place of abode, nature of their qualification to vote and their parish carefully recorded and marked by hand.

In addition, the last known poll book to be published is also displayed. Despite the introduction of the secret ballot in 1872, poll books continued to be published for the three university constituencies of London, Cambridge and Oxford. The last known published poll book, for the election held in Cambridge for the constituency of the University of Cambridge in 1882 is featured within the exhibition.



The exhibition can be found on the first floor of the Institute of Historical Research Library, located within the Foyle Library. We hope that you enjoy the display and learn a little more about the wealth of resources that poll books have to offer historical researchers.

For more information on the Library’s collection of printed poll books please consult the blog post on the IHR’s British Poll Book Collection. The IHR Library’s website also features an exceptionally useful guide to both locating and using British Parliamentary historical sources, as well as an introductory guide to using the poll book collections.

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