New resource now available: Mass Observation 1980s and 1990s

We’re delighted to announce that the Library has now bought the latest instalment of the Mass Observation Online collection, covering the 1980s and 1990s.

About Mass Observation

Mass Observation is a pioneering project which documents the social history of Britain by recruiting volunteers (‘observers’) to write about their lives, experiences and opinions. Still growing, it is one of the most important sources available for qualitative social data in the UK. This latest instalment is a great resource for anyone researching aspects of late twentieth century Britain. It complements our existing access to the original Mass Observation project archive, which covers 1937-1967.

1981-1999 collection

The 1980s and 1990s modules include hundreds of directive (survey) responses from observers on a wide range of issues, covering major political and social themes of the period from Thatcher to Blair, as well as everyday life. There are also photographs, leaflets, and other ephemeral materials, as well as contextual essays and timelines to help you interpret the collection.

Searching and browsing

Filtering options

You can browse or search Mass Observation in various ways.

Browse by directive: browse the different directives (surveys), which are arranged chronologically and by topic.

Browse all documents: browse all the individual documents, and then further filter your search as required.

You can also use the Advanced search box at the top of the screen to search for specific topics.

Help

Research tools

We’d recommend you start by reading through the Introduction (top menu) which explains more about the project and the different document types. If you’re looking for ideas about how to make use of it, take a look at the Research Tools, which includes essays, videos, exhibitions and chronological timelines.

Note that as over half the materials in these collections are handwritten, the database enables Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) to help you search. We would recommend you read about how HTR works, to help you get the best out of the database, in the Introduction section.

New resource now available: Bloomsbury Popular Music

We are pleased to announce that the Library has bought access to Bloomsbury Popular Music (soon to be renamed Bloomsbury Music and Sound), following a well-received trial. This wide-ranging resource comprises:

  • All twelve volumes of the landmark reference work, Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.
  • All 170 short books in the 33 1/3 series, focusing on significant LPs from a wide range of genres and eras.
  • A selection of over 100 scholarly ebooks on popular music published by Bloomsbury, including biographies and historical overviews.
  • Interactive features, including a pop music timeline back to 1900 and world map.
  • Biographies of hundreds of artists.
  • Personalisation features to help you cite, share, search and collaborate.

You can search or browse it in various ways, such as by artist, genre or location. All books included in Bloomsbury Popular Music are also individually catalogued on Library Search, and new content is added twice a year.

Watch the short trailer for an overview, and enjoy exploring, from Cab Calloway to Cabaret Voltaire and beyond!

BAR Digital Collection for archaeology now available

We’re pleased to announce that the Library has bought access to the new BAR Digital Collection, following a successful trial earlier this year.

This online collection, from one of the world’s largest academic archaeology publishers, gives full text access to over 3,100 titles published from 1974 to date. The collection includes both BAR’s British and international series, and covers archaeological research, excavation reports and other important series from around the world. Publications are mostly in English, as well as some in Italian, German, French and Spanish.

BAR browse options

You can browse or search the entire collection in various ways (e.g. by location, author, subject, time period or series). Each report is also individually catalogued on Library Search (here is an example).

Get the latest news and features about this collection on Twitter.

New e-book collection: Oxford World’s Classics

OWC logo

We’re pleased to announce that the Library has bought the new Oxford World’s Classics e-book collection, following a well-received trial earlier this year.

This provides access to 301 novels and other works from the 18th and 19th centuries from around the world, including novels by writers such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as works such as Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.

OWC authors

Each work is accompanied by extensive hyperlinked notes, introductions, bibliographies and commentaries. You can browse or search the entire collection in various ways (for example: by author, subject, keyword or time period). Every book in the collection is also individually catalogued on Library Search (here is an example).

When reading a book, you can highlight text and make and save annotations (you’ll need to create a Personal Profile first).

Text highlight and annotation

Get the latest news and features on this platform from Twitter or via the Oxford World’s Classics blog.

Resource in Focus: The Listener Archive

The Library has access to The Listener Historical Archive for its entire run from 1929-1991.

The Listener was a weekly magazine established by the BBC in 1929 under its director-general, Lord Reith. It was initially developed as the medium for reproducing broadcast talks on the radio, but in later years, television as well, and was the intellectual counterpart to the BBC listings magazine, Radio Times. It is one of the few records and means of accessing the content of many early broadcasts, and also regularly reviewed new books.

The Listener developed a reputation for outstanding writing, with contributions from the major writers, artists, commentators and thinkers of the twentieth century, including E.M. Forster, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf. It’s an invaluable resource for those researching the critical reception of culture in the twentieth century, and the response of the public.

You can browse The Listener by date to find a specific issue, or search in various ways (choose Advanced Search to see all options, including searching by section of the magazine, author or date.)

Additional search features on the home page include Term Frequency, to trace how often a word, phrase or person has featured in The Listener over the years, and Topic Finder, to explore and visualise connections between topics.

As the Listener archive is published by the company Gale, you can cross-search it with any of the other Gale archives to which we have access, via Gale Primary Sources.

Resource in Focus: Punch Historical Archive, 1841-1992

The Library has access to the entire digitised archive of Punch from 1841-1992.

Punch was a famous satirical magazine which played a central role in the formation of British identity, and how the rest of the world saw Britain. This archive covers all volumes of Punch between 1841-1992, including special numbers, prefaces, epilogues, indexes, images and other specially produced material from the bound volumes. It’s an excellent resource for researching nineteenth and twentieth century political and social history, through provocative and entertaining satirical commentary.

To find out more about Punch, click Research Tools to read a selection of essays about different periods of its history.

Menu screenshot

You can browse Punch by date to find a specific issue, or search in various ways (choose Advanced Search to see all options, including searching by section of the magazine, illustration type or date.)

Additional search features on the home page include Term Frequency, to trace how often a word, phrase or person has featured in Punch over the years, and Topic Finder, to explore and visualise connections between topics.

As the Punch archive is published by the company Gale, you can cross-search it with any of the other Gale archives to which we have access, via Gale Primary Sources.

Resource in Focus: Picture Post Historical Archive 1938-1957

We have access to the complete digitised archive of Picture Post from 1938-1957. Picture Post was a British magazine (seen as the British equivalent of Life magazine) which was renowned for its use of photojournalism, in an era before television. It covered social and political issues, as well as providing a visual record of everyday life in Britain during and after World War Two.

You can browse the full colour archive by date to find a specific issue, or search in various ways (choose Advanced Search to see all options, including searching by section of the magazine, illustration type, or by date.)

Additional search features on the home page include Term Frequency, to trace how often a word, phrase or person featured in Picture Post over the years, and Topic Finder, to explore and visualise connections between topics.

As the Picture Post archive is published by the company Gale, you can cross-search it with any of the other Gale archives to which we have access, via Gale Primary Sources.

Student guest post: resources for your English literature/language studies

We’re delighted to welcome a guest blog post from Leanna Thomson. Leanna is a second year undergraduate English Literature student, and a blogger for the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics.

Leanna Thomson
Leanna Thomson

“This semester, I studied the module ‘Independent Research Project Preparation’, which included a guest lecture from the Library all about their resources. I found the information about databases so useful that I wanted to share it with students outside of the module, because I think it could really revolutionise their remote learning! I hope you find these resources as useful as I did.”

Our top eight sites for finding secondary and specialist sources

The search for relevant, high quality secondary sources to reference in your assignment can seem like a challenge, especially during remote learning. Sometimes your online search can yield so many texts that you don’t know where to start; other times you struggle to find anything at all. However, our top online database picks will help you find the perfect text in no time! All you have to do is use Library Search or your library subject guide to access the databases.

1. Library Search

A search on the University library catalogue, Library Search, not only fetches up results from the Library’s huge range of books, articles, newspapers, audiovisual content and more, many of which you can either access online or order for click and collect or home delivery. It will also find papers from the hundreds of journals and databases that the Library subscribes to, including both interdisciplinary and SELLL specific titles. Library Search also has advanced search setting and filters, which can help you find exactly what you need. You can also access specialised guides about finding secondary sources for your subject.

2. Literature Online (LION)

LION is a literature-specific database, perfect for seeking content such as literary criticism, works of literature to use as comparisons to your primary texts or enforcements of your argument, reviews, periodicals and audiovisual content, to name but a few of its elements. Its advanced search engine can be modified so that it only finds what you are looking for, and it is a perfect database to turn to when you can’t find quite enough literary-focused content on your topic.

3. JSTOR

JSTOR offers full text online access to scholarly journals, books and book chapters across all subject areas. It has basic and advanced search options that allow you to search by topic keyword, author, subject area, title or publisher.

You can also download JSTOR texts as pdf files, meaning you can store them on your computer or print them off.

4. Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

LLBA focuses on academic resources for the study of language: including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, and descriptive, historical, comparative, theoretical and geographical linguistics.

LLBA thesaurus

It also features a specialised linguistics thesaurus, which you can use in advanced search to refine and focus your search. The thesaurus provides a searchable list of all the subject terms used in the database, and highlights links between broader, narrower and related terms, helping you to select all of the keywords relevant to your topic.

5. Scopus

Scopus is a large, interdisciplinary database of peer-reviewed literature, including articles, book chapters and conference papers. It includes a range of smart tools that can help you track the research in your area. You can search for documents, sources, authors and institutions, and compare and contrast them using a variety of different tools.

It includes full reference lists for articles, as well as lists of texts which have cited a particular article. This allows you to uncover all the information relevant to your research. You can also set up citation alerts, so you can be informed of new, relevant material automatically.

6. MLA International Bibliography

The MLA international bibliography is produced by the Modern Language Association, an organisation dedicated to the study and teaching of language and literature. It indexes books and articles published about modern languages, literature, folklore, and linguistics. It contains many links to full texts, and as its title suggests, it includes texts from all over the world. The electronic version of the bibliography dates back to 1925 and contains over 2.2 million citations from more than 4,400 periodicals (including peer-reviewed e-journals) and 1,000 book publishers. It’s an ideal database for any SELLL student!

7. Google Scholar

A search on Google Scholar is just as simple and fruitful as an ordinary Google search, but the results will be peer-reviewed, academic sources, so it’s a much more reliable search engine for your university work. It will also bring up references from a range of different information sources, including Google Books, online journals, downloadable pdf files and even many of the databases discussed on this post!

What’s more, there are lots of useful filters: you can search by relevance and by time period, which is really useful for when you are looking for sources from a particular moment in time. There are also “cited by” lists, so you can track research forwards in time, and suggestions of similar texts for each source.

8. Accents and Dialects

Accents and Dialects is a searchable database of English accent recordings from the British Library Sound Archive.

Recordings include early spoken word snippets from the 1890s onwards, Opie’s collection of children’s songs and games, an evolving English word bank, and a survey of English dialects. Each recording includes a detailed description, with some containing linguistic information too, and most can be downloaded for academic use. You can browse the database by project, county, or date: the search box on the top right of the page can be used to look for specific keywords, including dialects or places.


Thanks Leanna: some great tips there! If you are a student, and would like to write a guest blog post for us about any aspect of the Library and its resources, please just get in touch with us: we’d love to hear from you!

Finding and using historic books online

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Library has access to thousands of contemporary books online, but did you know we also have online access to almost every work published in the English language from the invention of printing in the fifteenth century to the start of the nineteenth century?

Read on to find out about five of our major historic book collections online, and how to get the best out of them.

1. Early English Books Online (EEBO)

EEBO gives access to the full text of almost every book published in the British Isles and British North America between 1470-1700. It contains over 146,000 titles, including literary works, royal and parliamentary documents, ballads, tracts, and sermons, giving a unique insight into the cultural and political life of that period. You can read works by major figures such as Shakespeare, Newton and Galileo, as well as many lesser-known works. EEBO displays digital facsimile images of every page of content, and full text transcription is available for many of the texts.

You can search, browse and export from EEBO in various ways, and all the individual works are individually catalogued on Library Search as well. If you are likely to be making frequent use of EEBO, we’d strongly recommend you spend some time exploring this EEBO guide, as it gives tips on key aspects such as searching for spelling variants.

2. Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

ECCO gives access to the full text of every book printed in the United Kingdom, and territories under British colonial rule, in the eighteenth century. It contains over 180,000 titles, including literary works, royal and government proclamations, schoolbooks and petitions.

As with ECCO, digital facsimile images of every page are provided, and optical character recognition enables full text searching. All items are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching directly from the ECCO interface to benefit from advanced search options, and special features such as term frequency and topic finder. As ECCO is part of the Gale Primary Sources platform, you can cross-search it along with other Gale resources, such as historic newspapers.

3. Early European Books

The Early European Books collection complements EEBO, and aims to encompass European printed material from circa 1450-1700.

Content comes from major European libraries, and is being added to regularly (we currently have access to over 25,000 titles). Facsimile images scanned directly from the original printed sources are provided, and detailed catalogue records help you search (we recommend choosing Advanced Search to see the full range of options).

These books aren’t individually catalogued on Library Search, so you’ll need to search directly from the Early European Books interface.

4. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO)

OSEO enables you to explore old works in new ways. It brings together authoritative editions of major works, so you can explore variations between editions, annotations and extensive notes side-by-side with the texts, or you can just read the texts on their own.

We have access to 272 Oxford editions, containing 344 works, including poetry, prose, drama, essays and correspondence, in the following categories: Romantics Prose; Romantics Poetry; 18th Century Drama; 18th Century Prose.

You can browse by work, edition or author, or search in highly specific ways (e.g. just search within notes or stage directions) to pinpoint exactly what you want.

The editions are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching for works and editions via the OSEO interface itself. If you haven’t used OSEO before, we’d strongly recommend watching this introductory video, so you can understand its potential and how to get the best out of it.

5. Oxford World’s Classics

Stop press! We’ve just bought access to this new online collection of over 300 works from the 18th and 19th centuries. Read our separate blog post to find out all about it.

Resource in Focus: Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice brings together a huge range of primary source materials relating to slavery and abolition studies from across the world, covering the time period between 1490 and 2007.

Primary source content

The content includes thousands of digitised sources, including images, maps, manuscripts, registers, ships’ logs and court records. It is arranged into sixteen broad themes, including Slavery in the Early Americas; Resistance and Revolt; Slave Testimony, and Urban and Domestic Slavery. Contemporary sources include materials from Anti-Slavery International, and submissions to the UNCHR.

Getting started

If you’re using Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice for the first time, we’d strongly encourage you to click on Introduction and take a little time to read about the content and themes, so you can get the best out of it: it is an extensive resource.

You can browse or search the content in various ways: we’d recommend choosing Documents from the top menu, as you can then browse by theme, geographic region, document type, date or more.

You may also find it useful to click REGISTER, so you can personalise your searching experience, including saving searches, documents and creating your own image slideshows.

Help and context

The primary sources are complemented by essays, tutorials and timelines to help you interpret the content: click on Further Resources from the top menu.

Have you used Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice? Please feel free to post your comments and tips by clicking Leave a comment below.