By Professor Jo Fox, Director, IHR

In this post Jo Fox announces the creation of the IHR’s new guide to Open and Free Access Materials for Research.

The new IHR guide provides links to freely accessible research materials and resources, and allows you to contribute your recommendations for extra resources. The guide is aimed principally at students working on MA and PhD theses but will, we hope, prove useful for all researchers.

Importantly, the guide also enables you to contribute your recommendations for extra resources to add to the listing. This will ensure it remains as useful as possible for researchers.

The IHR’s new guide provides listings of freely accessible online resources

Like others, we are very aware of the challenges now faced by historical researchers recently denied access to libraries and archives because of the COVID-19 health emergency.

This is a significant obstacle for all researchers, at every career stage. But it’s particularly challenging for MA students (and their tutors) and all those working to fixed deadlines to undertake and complete research projects in the coming months.

There is now much information circulating on social media and in professional communities about new materials coming online. This is extremely welcome. But it can also be difficult to keep abreast of the changing landscape, and to know where to look for information.

In response, the IHR has created a new online resource which we’re launching on Monday 6 April. Our new resource seeks to consolidate available information on research materials, and bring it together in a single place.

Our new guide to Open and Free Access Materials for Research provides a selection of curated links to online research resources that can be used for Master’s dissertations, as well as historical research of all kinds.

From digitised archives to oral histories, newspapers, maps and printed collections, we hope that here you’ll find some materials that help with your work or — if you’re a dissertation advisor — provide some additional ideas and options for your students.

Some of this material has been selected by IHR librarians and colleagues at the Institute, while other items have been suggested by historians and researchers. 

Details of records are listed by content type and period, with drop-down lists within each section

*This Guide remains a work in progress and now we seek the help of the wider historical community.*

So far we’ve included those resources we know about, but there will be many others known to you. We’re therefore reliant on further suggestions from those with specialist knowledge of research materials in your field.

If you’d like to recommend a freely accessible online resource, please do send your suggestions to Alternatively, you can submit your recommendations via this online suggestion box.

We’ll then review submissions and add them to our Guide. We’ll be keeping this new information under constant review, making sure it remains up-to-date and as useful as possible.

Use the Online Suggestions Box to send us information about a free resource to add to the list

Our new guide to free online resources is one way the IHR seeks to help all historians and researchers at this difficult time. We’re also thinking hard at the Institute about new initiatives, for helping with research and bringing people together, some of which I outlined in a recent blog post and which we’ll be bringing forth in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, IHR colleagues are making additional research content freely available over the coming months, as with our recent announcement on free access to all British History Online content. And via the Twitter tag #VirtualIHR we hope too that our shared scholarly life will take on new, online forms.

 Thank you for contributing to out new Guide for historical research.

We hope that this will prove useful.

Jo Fox is Director of the Institute of Historical Research and Professor of Modern History at the University of London.