Searching for local history on the web

These are websites with search facilities known to have local history material

that have been useful to an amateur local historian

ordered as general web search engines then archives in Essex, UK, and worldwide

(words in italics are quote from the website)

General Web Searches

Google           [ about these... external links on this page]

Use more than one word and try enclosing two or more words in parenthesis

Google Books

Search the world's most comprehensive index of full-text books

Go to Search tools and select Preview available to find books that can be read in full

Restrict the search with a date range:  1800..1900  (2 dots only between the years)

use this advanced search to search titles only, etc.

Google books - catalogue of titles - Essex page

Google Images

Hits are based on the filename of the image, the link text pointing to the image and/or text adjacent to it.

One can select a thumbnail image, view the full-sized image or browse its website.

By 2010 the index reached ten billion images and the service receives over one billion views a day. (wiki)

A picture is worth a thousand words.

It can be more effective to cast an eye over hundreds of images than to read pages of text based hits.

When a humbnail is selected similar images are also show, which can be useful.

Google Scholar

Search scholarly papers (mainly academic articles)

Other search engines are available

However, most, if not all, general web search engines do not have access the full catalogues of many major on-line archives.

The internal search mechanisms of these sites can be very productive, and in many cases display actual books in full...


Essex Based

Essex Record Office SEAX - Essex Archives Online

suggest always tick the search full catalogue box

Select/click an item to see a summary

Most the items can only be seen in full by visiting ERO in Chelmsford

A few images can be viewed on-line

Some genealogy related items can be viewed on-line with a fee

The Searchroom contains an extensive reference library of local history publications and books,

an electronic catalogue of this material is (only) available at the Searchroom help desk.


Essex County Council - Reference library online

These useful sites identified here need a library card number for home use...

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - needs a library card number

ODNB includes biographies of 59,879 men and women who died in or before the year 2011

The Times from 1785 to 2010 - needs a library card number

Guardian and Observer from 1791 to 2003 -

19th Century British Library Newspapers

British Library Newspapers consists of two major collections from the British Library

which span three hundred years of newspaper publishing in the U.K - 17th and 18th and 19th Centuries.

The collections contain full runs of 48 newspapers, nearly 3 million pages and 40 million articles.

The articles are available free of charge with a library card number.


Essex Public Libraries catalogue

Search for library books anywhere in Essex, or at a specific library location, by title or author.

Items found may be Reference - Not Loanable copies and require a journey to the particular library.


Unlocking Essex's Past - Archaeology - home page

Identifies and describes all local Listed Buildings and Listed Monuments.

In the Where? box, Choose a location from the Find Area pull down list, and then Search

or, enter a location into the Name? box (gives less results)

In the results list - select/click on the Monument Name column (for listed buildings and monuments)


The Essex Society for Archaeology and History - about the library - catalogue

One can search the catalogue but then need to visit the Albert Sloman Library at the Essex University


The Plume Library in Maldon

The Thomas Plume Library was founded in 1704. Dr Thomas Plume bequeathed to his native town

his collection of some 8,100 books and pamphlets. Although they may no longer be borrowed,

books from the Library may be consulted without appointment during normal opening hours

and the catalogue may be consulted online. - home page ...general search + Complete subject list


The Essex Field Club Archive

Individual books, articles and papers: 2,444 (all Essex based)

Essex Field Club Bulletins & Newsletters, Essex Naturalist, etc. From 1880 onwards   . . text search   . . choose a volume from pull-down list


UK Based


Discover England's archaeological and architectural heritage. PastScape is a quick and easy way to search over 420,000 records held in the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE). You'll find information on archaeological, architectural and maritime sites. This holds similar material to Unlocking Essex's Past but also links directly to


The British Newspaper Archive

In partnership with the British Library    561 newspaper titles with 12,685,425 pages online, covering 1710-1959

Search for text, or browse by title, place, date, etc.

Snippet results only are shown and free - registration and fee is required to view the full articles


Archaeology Data Service

Archive Search

Search for Goldhanger (45 results)

Search for blackwater essex (47 results)

Unpublished Fieldwork Reports

Search for Goldhanger (3 results)


Search for Essex (25 results)

The Archaeological Journals 1844-1963


Nation Library of Scotland - maps

This website has many maps for both Scotland and England, including a large number of Ordinance Survey maps. There are both ancient and relatively modern maps plus many types of specialist maps. It is a large complex time consuming site that requires practice for best results. See Old Maps Online below for an easier to use site. is an historic map archive and a joint venture with Ordnance Survey

with maps dating from 1843-1996. There are eleven very detailed historic maps to choose from.

Enter a location, select a map and Enlarge View, wait for high definition map to appear,

Select full-screen, and remove blue box if necessary, zoom & pan.

There is a fee for printed copies.


British History Online

British History Online is a not-for-profit digital library based at the Institute of Historical Research. It brings together material for British history from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and academics. Our collection currently contains over 1,250 volumes and is always growing. - browse


British Library Catalogue

Over 13 million items in the British Library's collections.

Anyone can search the catalogue free of charge.

One can also order copies of parts of many items and pay by credit card.


Connected Histories 1500-1900

Connected Histories is a partnership between the several UK universities.

It provides integrated access to electronic content already available on distributed websites.

Some content is free, some is via a subscription.



Internet Archive

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books -

- search the history of over 549 billion pages on the on the internet

The Internet Archive and Open Library offers over 8,000,000 fully accessible public domain eBooks.

Good search facilities, can display actual book or just text, needs practice to use. - also searches texts



The HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries

working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.

6,910,806 book titles currently digitized.

Has a FULL-TEXT search and a CATALOG: with author, title, etc. and a search

Find a book and then search for text again within the book. Some books are text search only.


Old Maps Online

Old Maps Online indexes over 400,000 maps from all around the world.

For most of the UK maps it links into Nation Library of Scotland maps (see above).

Easy to use.



WorldCat is the world's largest library catalogue, helping you find library materials online

2 billion items available here through a library - find items in libraries near you

WorldCat only identifies a library sources.


The Online Books Page

of the University of Pennsylvania

The archives area vast range of online literature beyond what we index individually,

we list some of the major sources and indexes of free online texts,

in all languages, both general and specialized.


The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Search books, journals, authors and subjects

172,495 volumes available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.


The Zoologist journal from 1843-1916 is available here.

A monthly journal of natural history (later succeeded by: British Birds) at...



In January 2012, Ron Unz launched the website called

Many Millions of Pages of Readable, Searchable Content at Your Fingertips

high-quality content material, mostly published over the last 150 years in America and England,

Periodicals, Books, and Authors


Forgotten Books

The world's largest online library with 484,473 books available on demand.

All of our books can be read online with our online book reader.

This feature is available even to unregistered users.

Includes10783 UK and Ireland Medieval to Early Modern History books.


Amazon Books

Amazon has an incredible database of historic book titles and authors, not all of which are available.

Some items found will be on-demand re-prints. The search facility finds a full title and author with minimal words.



Ebay has a very large number of historic items of interest, such as postcards and rare books.

100 year old Local postcards occasionally appear with views never seen before.



external links            Search this website                 home