University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
National Endowment for the Humanities

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Selected and annotated websites
on the British Industrial Revolution

  • Institute of Historical Research
    London University’s Institute for Historical Research has the best resources for information on the historical profession in Britain.  It contains links to on line resources for research and teaching history.
  • H-Albion Links
    The links page of H-Albion, a professional discussion group of British historians, has links to research tools in British and Irish history.
  • H-Net Humanities and Social Science on Line
    Edited by academic professionals, there are list-serves for almost every field in history. These list serves are often the first place historians turn to for conferences, book reviews, and professional discussions and opportunities. They offer searchable logs of discussions.
  • The World History Association
    This is the association that seeks to make world history world history rather than western civilization warmed over. It contains many links useful for teaching and bibliography.
  • Virtual Library
    Originally founded at the University of Kansas, this excellent guide to history resources is now maintained by the European University in Florence.
  • Center for New Media
    The Center for New Media at George Mason University is probably the best center whose purpose is to make historical material available electronically for teaching and student research. It has an excellent scholarly reputation and its reviews of historical web sites are first rate.
  • Voice of the Shuttle
    A searchable database of web sites at the University of California Berkeley.
  • EDSITEment
    The National Endowment for the Humanities peer reviewed lesson plans and resources in the Humanities as well as information on NEH grant opportunities.
  • Intute
    This is a project by a group of British academic institutions that provides access to a large number of carefully selected and described web sites of academic substance and value.  It can be searched as a whole or in part (Arts and Humanities or more specifically history) or browsed by period or other subdivision in history. It includes a very useful set of tutorials, Internet for Historians, which includes a tour of the "best" sites on the Internet, a guide to searching effectively, and advice on evaluating the reliability and quality of web sites. The quality of the sites listed is very high.
  • The Victorian Web
    George Landow, a pioneer in the theory and practice of hypertext in the humanities, has created in The Victorian Web a splendid teaching and reference tool in the form of a growing encyclopedia of Victorian culture. Visitors to the site will find capsule summaries of many events, movements, and themes, with an emphasis upon Victorian literature and religion, written by leading scholars in the field. This informative and well-designed site, a product of many hands, is by far the most comprehensive and widely praised Victorian resource on the Web.
  • Victorian Research Web
    A collection of scholarly resources on nineteenth century Britain by Patrick Leary at the Indiana University History Department. It includes links to websites across the Internet. A facility for searching the Victoria archives puts at your fingertips almost twenty years' worth of scholarly discussion by Victorianists around the world, while other features include a portal to dozens of reviews of books of 19th-century interest and tips for planning a research trip to Britain.
  • The British Library Online Gallery
    The British Library website offers virtual exhibits and digitized artifacts that highlight some of the Library's world-renowned collections. The Online Gallery has an interesting exhibit, Early Photographically Illustrated Books, which has 1,500 original illustrations from the Victorian period. In addition to browsing collections, temporary exhibits, and themed tours, users may conduct user-friendly searches to find documents or images for any number of potential classroom uses.
    This is a gateway site for teaching and research in economic history sponsored by the Economic History Association (US) and the Economic History Society (UK). The website includes free public access to a book review library, which is searchable by keyword, author, title, time period and geographical location. It also includes a section of extended reviews of classic books in economic history and an encyclopedia section that contains scholarly accessible articles on important topics in economic and business history. The site includes a collection of important datasets for economic history as well as an extensive list of scholarly external web pages in economic and business history.
  • e-ReFresh
    The e-Refresh pages are part of the Economic History Society’s website. At this site, Pat Hudson has produced an excellent illustrated essay for secondary and college students: “The Industrial Revolution: Change and opportunity in Economy and Society, c.1750-1830.” It includes a section on recommended reading.
  • McMaster University Archive of the History of Economic Thought
    A large archive of important sources for the history of economic thought, which includes many works by British economists during and about the period of industrialization.
  • Romantic Circles
    An ambitious site devoted to Byron, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Keats, and "their contemporaries and historical contexts." Designed for scholarly interaction and featuring reliably edited e-texts and other resources.
  • The Blake Archive
    A hypermedia archive of William Blake text and images sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, and other institutions and foundations.
  • William Morris
    A site devoted to William Morris, the Arts and Craft Movement, and other artists of the period. It includes links to Morris’s writings as well as to Victorian culture in general. The William Morris Society maintains the site.
  • Images of the Industrial Revolution
    A site created by Laura Nicholls, a participant in my 2002 NEH seminar, that explores images created by artists of the period of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Yale Center for British Art
    Yale has the largest collection of British Art in the United States. The site includes a virtual exhibition of representative works and research links to resources for the study of British art.
  • Modern History Sourcebook
    An extensive collection of historical sources organized by Paul Halsall at Fordham University. It includes a good selection of primary documents on British industrialization and its social consequences.
  • Primary Documents-United Kingdom
    This is the British part of a large collection of Western European primary historical documents. It contains several good sources on the period of industrialization.
  • Internet Library of Early Journals
    Includes such early journals as Blackwoods, the Annual Register, the Gentleman’s Magazine, and the Builder. The latter was published during the 1840’s and is particularly interesting as a source for economic and social history.
  • Penny Magazine
    “Penny Magazine” published between 1832 and 1835 by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. These magazines were aimed at the working class and provide a wealth of interesting information on subjects of interest to the English common people.
  • A Vision of Britain Through Time
    Humphrey Southall and the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System Tcreated this very large historical statistics site for Great Britain. It is based in the Department of Geography at the University of Portsmouth in collaboration with the centre for Computational Geography at the University of Leeds, and the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at the Queens University of Belfast, and the University of Edinburgh. Its data is searchable by places, such as Great Britain as a whole; or a region, such as Scotland or the West Midlands; or by administrative units, such as counties, cities, towns and parishes. The site includes learning tutorials for subjects such as agricultural change and land utilization surveys, franchise reform and changing constituencies, numbering the people-history of census making, traveling through a changing nation (for historical travel writing), and beating the bonds (for defining and mapping boundaries). The statistical atlas provides information on particular places or for Britain as a whole in such categories as population, language and learning employment and poverty, politics, industry, agriculture and land use, and housing. There is an historical map section beginning with the first Ordnance Survey maps of 1805 to the present. Census reports are available from 1801 to 1971.
  • Directories database, 1772-178, Economic and Social Data Service
    This research website contains a dataset for the study of urban occupations in Britain in the early Industrial Revolution. The determination of Britain’s occupational structure provides crucial evidence for the nature of Britain’s economic development during the Industrial Revolution.  The dataset is an analysis of entries in 16 early urban directories. Local town directories were produced in increasing numbers from the 1760s onwards. They were ad hoc works, generally providing listings of leading local inhabitants, with their names, addresses and occupations. The sources used for this database were selected from all large urban centers in the British Isles, which had relevant sources available. The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), based at the UK Data Archive University of Essex, hosts the site. The data can be ordered as a tab delimited texts and DBF databases after following a registration process. From this Web page you may download a PDF of images of the study’s documentation.
  • The Victorian Census Project
    Based at Staffordshire University, the VCP aims to make available to scholars a number of hard-to-find source documents about mid-nineteenth-century British society in computerized form. These include census abstracts, reports of the Poor Law Commissioners, and many others that shed valuable light upon Victorian social history, from health to literacy to employment. The page includes links to such related projects as the Historical GIS Program, with its innovative experiments at mapping nineteenth-century data.
  • Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Trade Database
    This collaborative project among Harvard University, Emory University, the University of Hull, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and the Victorian University of Wellington, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, has created a comprehensive web site where you can search a Voyages database, examine estimates of the slave trade, and explore its African Names database. The site also includes maps, a timeline and a chronology.
  • Monuments and Dust: The Culture of Victorian London
    An international group of scholars, at the University of Virginia and University College, London, has assembled a large collection of visual, textual, and statistical representation of Victorian London—the largest city of the nineteenth-century world and its first urban metropolis.
  • The Nineteenth-Century City
    This is a good resource for secondary students interested in the development of London and Manchester during the nineteenth century, two of Britain's most dynamic cities during the Industrial Revolution. The site uses maps, images, quotes, and statistics to define the cities. The site is organized in ten sections, each one focusing on a major aspect of the city and its dwellers. These topics are Population, the Railway, the Great Exhibition, Housing and Health, Work, Education, Law and Order, Fashion, Architecture, and Women/Wives/Widows. Maps illustrate the exponential growth of population in London and Manchester, while descriptions of conditions and statistics are taken from Henry Mayhew's study "London Labour and the London Poor." Phillip Mallet at the University of St. Andrews developed the site.
  • Industrial Revolution & the Railway System
    The site was created by Julia Lee and maintained by Robert Schwartz of Mount Holyoke College. It presents a wide variety of information on the railway system of nineteenth century England and Wales. The website includes primary source material in the form of extracts from prominent Victorians voicing their opinions on the railways and articles from the Illustrated London News. The newspaper articles are divided into different categories relating to the railways, such as: accidents and disasters; stations; personalities; and politics and economics. The images section of the site contains a large number of Victorian images (unfortunately, they are not annotated). The data analysis section includes maps showing the growth of the railways and population and natural resources distribution. Robert Schwarz provides a commentary on the data analysis
  • Women, work and trade in the English industrial revolution, 1773-1828.
    This is a research site on the context, range and availability of work for women during the period 1773-1828. It is an example of the sophisticated economic and social history research made possible by digitization of sources and computer technology. The dataset is hosted by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), based at the UK Data Archive, University of Essex (formerly part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service - AHDS). The data is available to order from the HDS as a tab delimited texts and DBF databases. To make use of this dataset you must first register with the HDS, and further information is supplied giving instructions. From this Web page you may download a PDF of images of the study’s documentation. The database records details of women's trade and business activities in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield between 1773 and 1828. The data is drawn from trade directories and newspapers published during sample years between these dates. This study aims to show that businesswomen were central to urban society and to the operation and development of commerce in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century northern towns. It presents a rich and complicated picture of lower-middling life and female enterprise in three northern English towns: Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. The stories told by a wide range of sources - including the trade directories and newspaper advertisements that form the basis of the database - demonstrate the very differing fortunes and levels of independence that individual businesswomen enjoyed. Yet, as a group, their involvement in the economic life of towns and, in particular, the manner in which they exploited and facilitated commercial development, force us to reassess our understanding of both gender relations and urban culture in late Georgian England. In contrast to the traditional historical consensus that the independent women of business during this period-- particularly those engaged in occupations deemed 'unfeminine' --was insignificant and no more than an oddity, businesswomen are presented by the project findings not as footnotes to the main narrative, but as central characters in a story of unprecedented social and economic transformation.
  • The Glasgow Story
    This website contains is an accessible online resource on the history of Glasgow, Scotland’s most important industrial city. The authors of each of its major sections are faculty members at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. The site is published by a partnership of Glasgow based institutions and organizations. It is based around a large number of well-written essays on Glaswegian history, which document the city from its beginnings until the present day. These, and a substantial number of images from libraries, museums and archives, can be searched by keyword. Alternatively users can access the resources by period, or by theme. These include everyday life, culture and leisure, learning and beliefs, trade and communication, industry and technology, buildings and cityscape, neighborhoods, and personalities. A substantial part of the site is on Glasgow’s economic and industrial history.
  • Ramble ‘round old Birmingham
    This is a scholarly illustrated tour of the ‘toy’ (button and ornamental metal-ware) making industry in Birmingham as it was in October 1829. The text was originally part of a 2008 University of Michigan Press book Good Money by George Selgin, but it was not included in the published print edition. His study examines the emergence of private coinage in the city of Birmingham, England, between 1775 and 1821. This chapter is a delightful introduction to the Birmingham ‘toy’ trades through a history of trade tokens in the early nineteenth century. The ‘toy’ trades of the Black Country played a crucial role in British industrialization. It is also an interesting introduction to the role of entrepreneurship in eighteenth-century Britain. The Ludwig van Mises Institute, a major proponent of classically liberal economics in Europe, hosts the site.  Selgin is Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia (USA).
  • BBC British History in Depth—Victorians
    The British Broadcasting Corporation has a good history section on the Victorians suitable for secondary school students, which contains some good explanatory material on topics, such as an overview of the industrial revolution, technology, daily life, and welfare and health. Such experts in the field as Professor Pat Hudson wrote some of the essays.
  • Sites of memory: The Slave Trade and Abolition
    English Heritage, a large government owned preservation trust in England, investigated the connections between the transatlantic slave trade and the properties it manages. This special ‘Sites of Memory’ website is a guide to a selection of the many historic buildings and sites owned by English Heritage that have a link to the history of the slave trade. The site’s main sections are the Slave Trade and Plantation Wealth, Black Lives in England, and Abolitionists. Each of these sections contains an essay, with illustrative pictures, which deals with the impact of slavery on how these buildings and sites owned by English Heritage were related to the slave trade.
  • Industrialization and Its Consequences 1750-1914—a Teaching Unit
    History for All of Us at the San Diego State University in collaboration with the National Center for History in the Schools has created this world history unit on the Industrial Revolution. It places the British industrial revolution in a broad historical perspective.
  • The Spartacus Encyclopedia of British History, 1700-1960
    This commercial site includes many short but interesting introductory entries for students on such topics as child labour, entrepreneurs and business leaders, the slave trade, Chartism, the railways, socialism and the labour movement.
  • National Waterways Museum
    This is the website of the National Waterways Museum, which is located in three areas of England: at the northern end of the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire; at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire; and at Gloucester Docks. Ellesmere Port was once one of the busiest trans-shipment ports in Britain where goods were moved from canal craft to sea going ships and vice versa. The traditional canal crafts housed at the museum are one of the world's largest floating collections and include narrow-boats, canal barges, river barges, canal and river tugs, icebreakers and a coaster. The exhibits at Stoke Bruerne are housed in a restored corn mill situated alongside the Grand Junction Canal, which was started in 1793 and completed in 1804, in order to provide a direct route from London to Birmingham. The third site is at Gloucester, which has been an important stopping point on the River Severn since Roman times, although it was not until 1580 that Elizabeth I granted Gloucester City port status. With the opening of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, Gloucester was able to expand into international trade, such as the importation of wood from the Baltic, corn direct from Ireland and the Mediterranean, and wine and fruit from Portugal. The website includes research links for teachers and students.
  • Virtual Waterways Archive Catalogue
    The Waterways Archives collects, preserves and make publicly available a over 40,000 records in many forms, including plans, drawings, accounts, photographs and audio-visual recordings. At their core are the archives of British Waterways and the early canal companies, which trace the history of Britain‘s inland waterways from the 17th century to the near present day. It brings together information from 15 archives across the UK and aims to stimulate and encourage wider public use of waterways‘ archives.
  • Steam engines of the eighteenth century
    This website exhibits the work of David K. Hulse, a steam engine model builder in England. Building steam engine models--as well as building operating steam driven model trains, boats and other devices—is a surprisingly widespread hobby. His models show the development of steam technology from Thomas Newcomen's pioneering Dudley Castle Engine, built in 1712, to the beam engines of the nineteenth century. Seven engines are discussed briefly and illustrated by photographs of his scale models. Besides Newcomen's engine, the site describes the construction and mechanics of: James Watt's Smethwick and Lap engines, James Pickard and Matthew Wasbrough's engine, Francis Thompson's Arnold Mill Engine, and Richard Trevithick's Lambeth Engine.
  • Beamish: the North of England open-air museum
    This is the website of the North of England's largest open-air living history museum, at Beamish, County Durham. The museum interprets how the people of the North of England lived and worked in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on 1825 and 1913. At its extensive site, connected by early 20th century trams and motorbuses, the museum houses a large collection of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian domestic, industrial, retail and institutional material culture exhibits in historic buildings from the region. The site not only provides information for the general visitor and the educator, but also provides a virtual experience with images and documents. The museum tells the story of the trans formation of an economy based on agriculture to one based on mining, metals and the railway industry. The site includes a searchable material couture archive.
  • Black Country Living History Museum
    The Black Country Living Museum is situated at Dudley in the West Midlands. It is a large open-air museum of reconstructed buildings on an old colliery site. The Black Country in and around Birmingham was the center of England’s metal manufacturing and engineering industry in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although there were some large factories in the region, such as Matthew Boulton’s and James Watts’ famous Soho works just outside of Birmingham, most of the workshops were relatively small and scattered throughout a wide swath of small industrial towns. On display are all aspects of local work and life with emphasis on metalwork and engineering. The collection also includes canal boats and docks that show how cargoes would have been carried to and from the ironworks in the area. Nearby are famous canal tunnels built under the limestone hills in the area. The site includes an interactive map that can be used for a virtual tour of the museum site. The website promises future access to its extensive industrial revolution era material culture collection.
  • Spinning the Web: The Story of the Cotton Industry
    This site aims to tell the story of the cotton industry in the Northwest of England from its medieval beginnings to its twentieth century decline. Led by the Manchester Library’s information service, it brings together more than 20,000 items from museums and archives in Lancanshire. It is arranged in sections: an overview from 1760 to the present;places-- the impact of cotton on villages, towns, and cities; people--living and working in the mills;industry-- how cotton was made and sold; and clothing and products-- the uses of cotton.
  • Cotton Times: Understanding the Industrial Revolution
    Cotton Times provides a basic outline of some of the events, conditions and personalities of the Industrial Revolution. Although this is a commercial site without good documentation about its authors and sources, it does contain a bibliography. The site has a time-line, which provides an outline of major events from 1730-1870. Other sections provide details on inventors and their inventions, engineers, and reformers. The site also has sections on children and workers and their living conditions. There is a ‘strife’ section that covers uprisings and movements such as the Luddite Riots, the Peterloo Massacre and the Chartist Movement. The site also has a visitor’s guide for visits to historical textile places and museums in the North of England.
  • Cotton Town: Blackburn with Darwen
    This interesting regional website for students intends to present the rapid social and economic rise and more recent decline of the textile industry and its impact on the Lancashire towns of Blackburn and Darwen and its people. This was once one of world's largest weaving and textile centers. Although the site includes material on the twentieth century, most of the site focuses on the period of the industrial revolution. The site is the product of the Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Services working with the community. This local history project's website uses digitized images, print resources, maps and broadsheets with commentary from oral histories and expert opinion. As a local history site, it contains many interesting local stories, which helps the user appreciate that the phenomenon we call the industrial revolution was made up of many regions that specialized in particular industries. The project received funding from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) digitization project.
  • Knitting Together: The Heritage of the East Midlands Knitting Industry
    This site is especially useful for use students. It explains the development of the knitting industry in the East Midlands from the invention of the knitting frame in the sixteenth century and the transformation of the industry from its domestic industry base to the steam-driven factories of the second half of the nineteenth century. Users can access the material through such categories as costume, technology, companies, places, people and organizations and associations. The material can also be accessed chronologically through a timeline.
  • Revolutionary Player--the West Midlands
    This website for students explores the role of people and places in the West Midlands during the Industrial Revolution. The site is owned by the Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries as part of the Digital Midlands Consortium. The site charts the development of the area with a focus on the industrial revolution from 1700-1830.  It displays and interprets a wide selection of primary source material taken from libraries, museums and archives in the West Midlands. This content can be explored by searching the digital library of primary sources, the image gallery or biographies; by browsing through content by county, theme or timeline; or by using one of the interesting ‘learning journeys’ on the site. For all of the sources users can view and enlarge digitized images, and transcripts of the written resources are also available.
  • The Workhouse
     A site created by Peter Higgenbotham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, created this site. It includes manya pictures and documents on workhouses.
  • The People’s History Museum
    The People’s History Museum in Manchester is the national centre for the collection, conservation, interpretation and study of material relating to the history of working people in Britain. The website includes a glossary to help the user search the electronic collection.
  • Iron Bridge Gorge Museums
    The site includes electronic exhibits and a guided and tour of the major museums in the Ironbridge gorge, including the Museum of Iron, Blist Hill Victorian Town and the Coalport China Museum.
  • Timeworks: Made in Sheffield
    A Sheffield City Museum Service site illustrating the history of steelmaking and museum exhibits on waterpower, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and Kelham Island Industrial Museum.  He website includes a virtual tour of the Abbeydale steel making site as well as pictures and explanations on the history of steelmaking in Sheffield.
  • Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
    The museum is in the process of placing many of its resources on line.  The museum includes the first passenger railway station in Britain, a very large collection of steam engines, extensive exhibits with machinery on the textile industry, and an interesting underground exhibit on the nineteenth century sanitation reform movement.
  • National Railway Museum
    The National Railway Museum at York has a virtual tour, a photograph collection, and other resources on line dealing with the history of British railways.
  • National Maritime Museum
    The National Maritime Museum is an extensive museum complex in Greenwich, England, which also includes the seventeenth century National Observatory and the painting collection of the Queen’s Gallery. Its website includes special online exhibits, virtual tours, and a searchable database of its collections,
  • National Science Museum
    The National Science Museum in London site has virtual exhibitions on the history of technology and science and other on-line resources. Material on the industrial revolution period can be found especially in the section, ‘The Heroic Age.’ For the period of exploration and discovery, see “Over the Horizon.’
  • National Coal Mining Museum
    The National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield offers guided tours led by retired miners. Visitors descend 450ft and walk through mine galleries that illustrate the history of mining in Britain. Their website includes online historical material, including documents, pictures and objects on the mining industry, the social history of the miners and their families, and the mining labor unions.
  • Measuring Worth
    This historical economic statistics site is an excellent introduction to historical data on wages, prices, gross domestic product, the rate of interest and the standard of living. The data for the United Kingdom is especially good from 1930 to the present but there is also data from as early as the 13th century. The site is designed for public use and includes an excellent jargon free essay, Measuring Worth, which defines the terms used and how to evaluate standards of living over time. Dr. Samuel J. Williamson and Dr. Lawrence H. Officer, University of Illinois at Chicago run the site and are advised by a board of distinguished British and American economists and economic historians.