Research tools

We have online resources that you can access with a National Library of Scotland (NLS) login. If your main address is in Scotland, you can use many of these from any computer.

To register for access, go to licensed digital collections.

17th- and 18th-century Burney collection newspapers
A full-text digital archive of 17th- and 18th-century newspapers, broadsides and news pamphlets from the Burney Collection. Gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney (1757-1817), this collection represents the largest single collection of early English newspapers from London, the British Isles and the colonies, containing almost one million pages and 1,270 titles.

19th-Century British Library Newspapers
A full-text digital archive of 19th-century newspapers, with the complete runs of 48 national, regional and rural daily and weekly publications originating in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

19th-century UK periodicals
A full-text digital archive which covers the events, lives, values and themes that shaped the 19th-century world. Consisting of a multi-part collection, subjects range from art to business, and from children to politics. The periodicals are presented in their original published context.

British Online Archives
An online gateway to historical full text archives. The National Library of Scotland provides access to 'Correspondence of Arthur C Murray, 3rd Viscount Elibank', and 'Papers of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1694-1709'.

Correspondence of Arthur C Murray, 3rd Viscount Elibank
A full-text digital archive of the papers of Arthur C Murray (1879-1962), solider, Scottish Liberal MP, foreign secretary, military attaché and close friend to Franklin D Roosevelt. The highlight of the archive is the correspondence between Murray and Roosevelt leading up to and during the Second World War.

Credo Reference
Credo is an online reference tool with trusted content sourced from academic publishers including full-text entries from encyclopaedias, dictionaries, reference works and more. It has image databases and topic pages giving overviews of hundreds of subject areas.

Search for items from:

  • Museums including Rijksmuseum and Louvre
  • Galleries
  • Archives
  • Library collections, including the British Library site, includes:
    • Images
    • Film
    • Audio
    • Text. Captions are often in the language of origin.

The Economist Historical Archive
Site with searchable editions of every issue of 'The Economist' between 1843 and 2006. Site recommends that students and teachers can also use supplements, special reports and surveys for their project work and research.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
Site which provides full-text access to House of Commons Parliamentary Papers between 1801 and 2000. Includes 'my archive' feature to save items you have found, and 19th-century subject index in which you can look for key issues debated in Parliament and studied in the history curriculum.

Scotsman Digital Archive
Search the archive of 'The Scotsman' newspaper for full-text articles from issues between 1817 and 1950. Also has a 'my research' feature where articles you have recently viewed are stored. May be useful to source primary evidence/contemporary commentary for events studied in the history curriculum.

Times Digital Archive
Search the archive of 'The Times' for full-text articles from issues between 1785 and 1985. May be useful to source primary evidence / contemporary commentary for events studied in the history curriculum.

Infotrac Custom Newspapers
Search for articles from newspapers across the world from 1980 to present day, including 33 Scottish titles. May be useful to source primary evidence / contemporary commentary for events studied in the history curriculum.

Sabin Americana
Searchable database of works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's. Site has a 'browse works' area where you can browse lists of works organised by topic. May be useful to source primary evidence if studying 'USA 1850-1880' at Standard Grade, The Atlantic Slave Trade at Higher, The American Revolution 1763-1787, The House Divided, USA 1850-65' at Advanced Higher.

Papers of the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies
Collection of documents relating to the Darien Company which can be viewed online. May be useful for sourcing primary evidence if studying 'The Treaty of Union, 1689-1740' at Higher level.

19th-century British Library newspapers
Search an archive of 19th-century national, regional and rural publications from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. May be useful to source primary evidence/contemporary commentary for events studied in the history curriculum.

Early American Imprints
Searchable database of works published in America between 1639 and 1800. May be useful to source primary evidence if studying The Atlantic Slave Trade at Higher and The American Revolution 1763-1787 at Advanced Higher.

Electronic Enlightenment
This online project collects together correspondence from the Enlightenment period and includes lots of background information on the period. May be useful to students and teachers studying the Enlightenment element of Georgians and Jacobites: Scotland 1715-1800 at Advanced Higher.

India, Raj and Empire
Searchable resource showcasing collections from NLS relating to the history of South East Asia between the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 and the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947. Site also includes biographies of key figures, chronology of the period, glossary and build your own slideshow feature. Useful for teachers researching and identifying primary evidence for teaching India 1917-1947 at Standard Grade, or teachers and students researching Migration and Empire, 1830-1939 at Higher.

A full-text e-book collection providing access to 3,500 titles, including 'Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia'.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
An online dictionary containing in-depth descriptions of the lives of over 50,000 men and women who have shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond.

Statistical Accounts of Scotland
Online access to the Statistical Accounts of Scotland in the 1790s and 1830s. The accounts include detailed reports for the whole of Scotland on topics including agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. Searchable by county and place name. Useful for teachers searching for primary evidence for 'Changing Life in Britain and Scotland, 1750s-1850s' at Standard Grade and the 'British Historical Study' at Higher.

Scots Abroad Database
Search this collection of databases to find details material from our emigration archive, including letters, diaries, emigration handbooks and more. We recommend this resource for independent student study at secondary level and teacher research to identify primary and secondary resources for topics relating to 'Emigration and Migration'.

Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900
An online bibliographic database of 50,000 Victorian newspaper and periodical publications, with 48,000 personal names, 4,572 issuing bodies and 756 subjects.

Who's Who and Who Was Who
A full-text reference work containing the current 'Who's who' - with over 33,000 short, continually updated, biographies of living noteworthy and influential individuals, from all walks of life worldwide - plus the entire 'Who was who' archive from 1897.


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Library video guides

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Watch our video guides to find out how to access National Library of Scotland resources from home, school or in person.

Emigration from Scotland

Home away from home

Find out about six Scots who started a new life abroad. Go to 'A home away from home'.

Scottish Enlightenment

Illustration of a group of men

Explore the Scottish Enlightenment – a remarkable period of change in Scotland's history. Go to 'Northern lights'.

Library favourites

Iain Brown

Find out about the 18th century version of the gap year, known as 'The Grand Tour'. Watch video.

NLS learning for you

If there's a topic you'd like more information about or if you have any suggestions for learning, email us.

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