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.
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.