History at Leicester

Online sources for Leicestershire history

The interests of many readers of this guide will lie elsewhere, but those interested in the history of Leicestershire’s towns and villages may find the following websites useful:

  • Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. Find online copies of the society’s Transactions from 1913 and of the Leicestershire Historian (containing articles on aspects of Leicestershire’s history and archaeology), with a searchable index. Note that the most recent issues of these publications are not online.
  • Leicestershire History. A series of research guides (farming, schools, parish churches and maps), and two projects (in progress) on Leicestershire’s schools and nonconformist churches and chapels.
  • Special Collections Online. An umbrella site which includes the following resources:
    • East Midlands Oral History Archive (a wide selection of recordings from the archive). If your interest lies in oral history, you should also look at the EMOHA website, which contains a catalogue of many recordings.
    • Ghost Signs of Leicestershire (photographs of over 250 hand-painted advertisements on buildings in Leicestershire)
    • Gorrie Collection (political memorabilia relating to the Labour movement in Leicestershire, c. 1889-1909)
    • Historical Directories of Leicestershire (collection of trade and street directories – also accessible direct – see previous section of this guide)
    • Leicestershire Industrial History Society (small section of articles and photographs relating to the county’s industrial history, including mining and quarrying)
    • Manufacturing Pasts (digitised sources for the history of manufacturing in Leicester, including press cuttings, building plans, photographs and oral history interviews)
    • Manufacturing Pasts Learning Resources (bringing together the material in Manufacturing Pasts within themes, introduced by short videos. There is also a photographic tour of sites)
    • Media Archive for Central England (selection of historic films about Leicester and Leicestershire)
    • Rothley Heritage Trust (digitised copies of maps and documents relating to this village in the Charnwood area of the county)
    • Rothley Garden Suburb (plans for houses proposed to form a new garden suburb in the early 20th century)
    • University of Leicester Special Collections (a huge variety of material, including digitised copies of John Nichols’ History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, John Flower’s sketches of Leicestershire buildings, William Marshall’s Rural Economy of the Midland Counties, John Monk’s Agriculture of Leicestershire, Curtis’s Topographical History of Leicestershire, and much else besides)
    • Vanished Leicester (over 1,000 photographs of streets and buildings that have now been demolished)
  • The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland. Find opening times and the online catalogue. Please be aware that only part of their collections are included in the online catalogue.
  • Victoria County History. The aim of the Victoria County History (VCH) is to produce a reference history of every town, village and hamlet in England from earliest times to the date of publication. Five volumes have been completed for Leicestershire: three general volumes cover county-wide topics, such as Leicestershire’s religious houses, political history and agrarian history, volume IV covers the history of the individual parishes in the city of Leicester and volume V provides parish histories for Market Harborough and 48 villages around it (the former Gartree Hundred). This site provides links to the digitised text of some published volumes, including the whole of volumes IV and V. Draft parish history sections for future volumes are added to the Work in Progress pages as they are completed.
  • VCH Explore. This national site includes transcripts of more than two hundred 17th-century probate inventories relating to parishes currently being researched for future Leicestershire volumes of the Victoria County History. There are also short pieces about the history of some of Leicestershire’s towns and villages.

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