The Best Free Online Archives for History Bloggers


 As someone who loves to research history it's pretty essential to have access to archives. However, as I'm currently in full time employment in a non-history related field and don't live in a large city, it can be difficult to access archives physically. Likewise, as researching history is currently a hobby it's not something I can afford to spend a great deal of money on, meaning online archives that are behind a paywall remain inaccessible to me. 

For those in a similar situation to me, I thought it would be beneficial to compile a list of the best free online archives so that all us history bloggers can continue to make the most of our hobby and have access to invaluable historical resources and collections.

The National Archives - You can either peruse their online digital archive guides or simply search for the topic you're researching and select "Available for Download Only" in the filters as this shows you what is available online and sometimes for free or a small fee. TNA are currently letting people download documents for free if you are a registered user which you can do completely for free! It's worth spending some time exploring the TNA website as there are lots of sub-sections containing free access to documents such as their page dedicated to Cabinet Papers

German History Documents and Images is run by the German Historical Institute and has hundreds of translated documents available all for free looking at the history of Germany from 1500 to the present day. This website was a god send for me during my dissertation!

Marxists.org has a comprehensive history of Marxism and Communism in Russia. At the bottom of each page there is a list of primary sources relating to that topic.

Parliament Online Resources - Here you can find documents relating to Parliament, Houses of Commons and any legislation that has been passed. 

Archive.org - The Internet Archive has so many digitised books and documents in addition to images and videos. 

The National Portrait Gallery has a wide range of paintings, drawings and photographs, many of which have creative commons licensing.

King Henry VIII after Hans Holbein the Younger oil on copper, probably 17th century, based on a work of 1536 NPG 157 © National Portrait Gallery, London

 The British Library - Some documents on the British Library website are only available either through Institution Access or by purchasing an Individual User License. However, don't let that put you off as there is still so much accessible for free. You can explore their digital collections pages or search their entire library but make sure to select the "available online (beta)" search tab.

Imperial War Museum Collections is particularly good for images

U.S. National Archives have a whole page of online archives many of which have digitised collections readily available

British Political Speech Archive contains political speeches from 1895 to 2018

Institute of Historical Research has an amazing list of archives that are  providing free digital access

British Cartoon Archive holds over 200 years' worth of history and documents relating to British cartooning. 

British History Online's online catalogue holds a great deal of digitised documents relating to...well you guessed it...British history!

Hansard holds digitised editions of Commons and Lords Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament from 1803-2005.

Euro Docs is an a database for online sources relating to European History throughout the ages.

Art UK has access to thousands of pieces of artwork, many of which have creative commons licensing.


These are all of the best online archives that I have come across so far but I'm always coming across more and more so will continue to add to the list. 

If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments below!

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