By Michael Townsend

Like many places, the IHR has had to temporarily shut its physical doors to staff, students and visitors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This does not diminish our commitment, however, to serving communities worldwide with a shared passion for historical research. Our digital doors are still open.

To give a handful of examples, the IHR Fellows’ Seminars are now conducted online as well as a growing number of seminars for this term. Also, if you are free on Wednesday afternoon, a ‘Shut Up and Write!’ session takes place over Zoom. Moreover established research resources such as Layers of London and British History Online (all material free to individual users until the 30 September) continue to provide access to cartographic and textual research material as well as staging workshops.

Among all this activity, in April teams across the IHR, including the library, IHR Digital and the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, compiled and published a new directory, the ‘Open and Free Access Material for Research’ guide. In the absence of access to the IHR’s physical library collections (as well as most other research libraries and archives) it is the intention of this guide to consolidate on one page as many of the growing number of freely available historical research materials available.

And since its launch we are heartened by the positive feedback we have received from academics, students and private researchers. Also we have welcomed the many suggestions of further resources to be included on the guide. Among the recent additions are links to the Extensive Urban Surveys project as well as three new sections devoted to resources on African, LGBTQ+ and rural history.

A Structure Emerges

The rapid growth of the guide is welcoming. Understandably though we do not want it to become too cumbersome to use. Therefore as new resources and sections are added a structure has begun to emerge.

Hopefully this has whetted your appetite to explore this new directory. However you can also contribute. If you have any suggestions contact us via the links below.


Online suggestion box

Michael Townsend is Collections and Metadata Librarian at the Institute of Historical Research. Follow him @MichaelRTownsend