Mike Petty’s Guide to Websites for Researching Cambridgeshire’s history

Cambridgeshire History on your Computer: the Library on your Laptop - revised March 2009.

There are thousands of books, periodicals, newspapers, maps and pictures now available online. This list has no claims to be comprehensive and excludes Family History sites. Please tell me of others you discover.

Books and Monographs

The Cambridgeshire Collection is the major resource of printed material. I catalogued each book, pamphlet and periodical article acquired between 1855 and 1997 in a series of card indexes some of which form the basis of the Collection’s online catalogue: Despite its failings it remains the most comprehensive record of published information. See my guide to Cambridgeshire Collection Catalogues and Indexes.

Cambridge University Library also includes much local material:

Two published bibliographies are available online

Robert Bowes - A catalogue of books printed at or relating to the University, town & county of Cambridge, from 1521 to 1893 : with bibliographical and biographical notes (1894) – digitised as part of the Internet Archive -

Melbourne University Library Catalogue of the collection of Cambridge material acquired by Pierre Gorman:

Digital Books

Once you have identified material you wish to see, then you need to visit the library to consult it. However many out of print items are being published in digital form and can be read on your computer at home

The Victoria County History is the main starting point for any research and may be read on the British History Online website -

County Directories list tradesmen at various dates: the Historical Directories website has many volumes for around the country -

Google Book Search has digitised thousands of out-of-print books. You can search by any topic and download copies. I recommend this heartily.

Internet Archive is a similar project good for Cambridge titles.

The above websites are open to all, others are available through Cambridge University Library. These sites are listed in italics

Early English Books Online –thousands of books 1473-1700. - //
Eighteenth Century Collections Online - many rare Cambridgeshire items –
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers – complete texts 1801 and 2000 including Charity and Agricultural Labour Gang reports – //

Periodicals and Journals publish articles on millions of topics some of which can be read online

JSTOR is an archive of important scholarly journals –

British Periodicals - hundreds of article from 1600s –

19th Century UK Periodicals - articles in 100 Victorian periodicals -


Newspapers are the most comprehensive record of local life and times. The Cambridgeshire Collection has files from 1764 to date together with various indexes and newspaper cuttings from 1958. See my guide to Cambridgeshire Newspapers and the Local Researcher and consult Newsplan – //

Most current newspapers can now be read online and some have digitised their old files

The Times digital archive 1785-1985 enables you to search and read stories. Their website - //times_digital_archive.htm is available via the Cambridgeshire Libraries website

British Newspapers 1600-1900: the most significant digital collection of British historic newspapers -

17th and 18th Century Burney Collection - the largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news media. -

19th Century British Library Newspapers - full runs of 48 national and regional titles including the Morning Chronicle and includes many Cambs stories -

Overseas newspapers searchable online include

American newspapers, 1880-1910 -

Australian papers 1803-1954 - Australian Newspapers Beta:–

New Zealand newspapers from 1839-1920 – Paperspast -


Ordnance Survey Maps. There are a number of sites offering access to early Ordnance Survey maps. Modern maps are available at

Old Maps - has maps at various dates and scales

Digimap, allows you to compare different periods. //

Genmaps - has older maps of the county


The Cambridgeshire Collection has the largest selection of illustrations of Cambridgeshire. There are various indexes, part of one of which is available on the Collection’s website.

Cambridgeshire Explorer CD-ROMs of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire each contain over 1,000 images. I strongly recommend you buy these from Hugo Brown at

Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network is scanning local photos -

Sites that include numerous historic images of Cambridgeshire include:

The British Library ‘Online Gallery’ for engravings -

Steve Bartrick Antique Prints -

Old-print. com features engravings from Illustrated London News - ‘

The Francis Frith Collection -

U.S. Historical Archive includes photographs of Cambridgeshire -

Norfolk Picture Search includes pictures the fen -

Buildings and archaeology

The Historic Environment Record at includes links to listed buildings and archaeological data


State Papers Online, 1509-1714 is a searchable archive of 16th- and 17th-century documents with hundreds of Cambridgeshire items -

Cambridgeshire County Record Office is the major resource for non-published material -

Janus provides access to catalogues of archives held throughout Cambridge. -

The National Archives index has many local items

Access to archives searches a variety of archive sources across the country -

Other Sources

Dictionary of National Biography, accessible via Cambridgeshire Libraries electronic sources gateway, can be searched by place as well as person

The BBC website enables a search for programmes of local interest –

Cambridgeshire Association for Local History and Martin Edwards have websites –


But remember – whatever you find online there is far more in the Cambridgeshire Collection

Mike Petty, March 2009