Primary Sources: British Online Archives

British Online Archives (BOA) consists of eleven thematic series, each containing individual collections of archival contents. The series are largely oriented toward British and British colonial history and new collections are added as they become available. The eleven series comprising BOA are:

  • Anglo-American Relations
  • British Broadcasting Corporation
  • British Records on the Atlantic World, 1700-1900
  • Colonial & Missionary Records
  • Communist Party of Great Britain
  • Industrial Revolution
  • People & Protest in Britain and Abroad, 1800-2000
  • Twentieth Century Political History
  • Records of the Raj
  • Religion
  • Science & Medicine

Some of the collections are listed in more than one thematic series.

The digital collections have been converted from microform sets distributed by Microform Academic Publishers, a few of which the Library already owns. There are guides associated with each collection, which will assist researchers in browsing. Basic and advance searching are offered; the advanced search function allows a choice between searching “all collections” or selecting only one collection at a time. Search results can be frustrating, because while the system will indicate where in a document the search terms appear, the terms are not highlighted in the document.

A major inconvenience is that the documents currently can only be printed or downloaded one page at a time. With Adobe Acrobat (free to all students, faculty and staff, remember) individual pages can be stitched together into one PDF, but I’m well aware of the extra effort that entails.

Despite these drawbacks, these collections can be of great value to researchers here. In future posts, I’ll be describing a few of them in more detail.