We want to highlight a range of e-resources – some general and some subject-specific – that can be freely accessed. What follows is a round-up of online content that we hope may be of use for your research!
Open access (OA) publications
research publications available to readers with no cost, technical or legal barriers to accessing them
Archaeopress Open Access – a large collection of free archaeology books and content published by Archaeopress that can be downloaded as PDFs to your own devices.
Bloomsbury Open Access – free-to-download books published by Bloomsbury Academic across a range of academic subjects.
DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books) – a searchable database of Open Access peer-reviewed monographs submitted by academic publishers.
DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) – an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality Open Access peer-reviewed journals. Almost 15,000 journal titles from over 130 countries are available.
JSTOR: Open Access Content – more than 6,000 ebooks and over 150 journals are available for free download, without the need to register for an account. There are some 3,849 articles and book chapters indexed under ‘archaeology’.
Persée – a portal of open access, mostly French-language scholarly journals covering human and social sciences, established by the Ministry of National Education of France. Over 800,000 documents are available for free.
Online digital libraries and collections
Resource collections that are entirely (or almost-entirely) free to access
ADS (Archaeology Data Service) – a not-for-profit accredited digital repository for heritage data, based at the University of York. It contains a wide range of material, including data-rich archives, unpublished reports, journals and metadata records.
Arachne – the central object database of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne. It aims to provide archaeologists and classicists with a free internet research tool for quickly searching hundreds of thousands of records on objects and their attributes.
BHO (British History Online) – founded in 2003 by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, the BHO contains over 1,270 volumes. Until 30st September 2020, an additional 200 volumes of primary materials have been made freely available for individual users – including the Calendar of Close Rolls (1244-1509) and the Calendar of State Papers Domestic (1547-1704).
Bibliothehe Monasciche Project – directed and coordinated by the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma, this collaborative project with CERL (Consortium of European Research Libraries) and the Polonsky Foundation aims to digitise all 15th-century printed books from 11 monastic libraries in Italy. These libraries preserve very rare material and are often geographically difficult to access. The website launched in February 2020 and features digital and textual content, blogs, and the entire incunable collection of Santa Scolastica.
DS (Digital Scriptorium) – an online catalogue of pre-modern manuscripts (both catalogue records and high-resolution images) from a consortium of American libraries and museums. The DS database enables users to study rare and valuable materials of academic, research, and public libraries.
Gallica – a major free digital library hosted by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) which provides access to a range of material, such as printed documents (books, press and magazines) in image and text mode, manuscripts, sound and iconographic documents, maps and plans. The site can be viewed in French, English or Italian.
Heidelberg University’s Digital Library – access to electronic full text resources licensed by Heidelberg University Library. A vast array of content is available: over 100,000 full-text e-journals, 600,000 ebooks and 900,000 thesis; bibliographic databases; online reference resources; digitised manuscripts, incunabla, archival material, maps… and more!
Project Gutenberg – a library of over 60,000 free eBooks; mostly great works of literature and older works out of copyright.
Manuscripta mediaevalia – this German-language site offers a searchable database of medieval manuscripts held in German libraries (over 90,000 documents), some of which are also digitised. The site also includes digitised copies of print library catalogues for over 100 libraries, including the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, and many others.
UK Medical Heritage Library – funded by JISC and the Wellcome Library, the project digitised some 15 million pages from European medical publications of the 19th and early-20th century. The scope of the subject is broad and includes items about medical sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness, diet and nutrition and historical medical practices.
WDL (World Digital Library) – managed by Library of Congress, the WDL provides free access to manuscripts, rare books, maps, photographs, and other important cultural documents from all countries and cultures, in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Some full-text content is freely available, but access to other content may be limited to certain pages only or abstracts (usually due to copyright restrictions)
Google Books – the world’s most comprehensive index of full-text books scanned by Google.
Google Scholar – broadly searches for scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources.
HathiTrust Digital Library – a collection of millions of titles digitised from libraries around the world (both full books and catalogue entries for those where copyright restrictions still apply). You can filter your initial search by ‘Full Text’ to see only available full-text publications.
An account is required to access this content. Free access may be restricted to certain kinds of material or limited to a set number of publications
JSTOR: personal user account – registering for a personal account on JSTOR will now allow you to access up to 100 paid-content articles a month for free until December 31, 2020.
Academia – a platform for academics to share research papers (requires personal registration to access content). Drafts of book chapters and academic papers are often made available for free download by their authors. Some features require a ‘premium’ (paid) account to access.
ResearchGate - a professional network for scientists and researchers who use it to share, discover, and discuss research. Though ostensibly for physical sciences, its huge membership – with over 16 million members worldwide – covers a wide array of social sciences and other related fields. Unlike Academia all content is free to access after registering for an account.
The National Archives Digital Records – The National Archives have made their digital records free of charge whilst the Kew site is closed. Once you have registered as a user you will be able to order and download up to ten items at a time, to a maximum of 50 items over 30 days. Downloadable digitised material includes the Domesday Book, military and naval records, migration records, wills, records from WWI and II, and 20th-century government documents.
Particular titles relating to the Society’s subject remit that are available for free, either long-term or temporarily during the COVID-19 crisis
CBA (Council for British Archaeology) Research Reports – the Research Reports bring together the research and findings from some of the most in-depth and innovative studies in archaeology. Issues, beginning with the first in 1955, are now digitised and free to download online.
Internet Archaeology – an independent, not-for-profit journal, which explores the potential of digital publication through the inclusion of video, audio, searchable data sets, full-colour images, visualisations, animations and interactive mapping.
The Local Historian – published by the British Association for Local History, the journal, dating back to 1952, contains articles and features for the general reader that may be of a wide (including national) application or may reflect a local subject. It is usually behind a paywall for non-subscribers, but all back issues have temporarily been made available for free during the pandemic.
Vetusta Monumenta online – a complete high-quality digitisation of the Society’s flagship series of engravings of ancient monuments and artefacts, originally published from 1718-1906. Volume 1 is available as a digital edition with scholarly commentary.
Other subject-specific resource compilations
Compiled lists of resources for particular subject areas or curated for educational purposes
AWOL (Ancient World Online) – a guide to freely-available material relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world. A fantastically useful resource with links to over 1,800 e-journals; both digitised paper journals from the 18th-century onwards and recent born-digital content.
Internet History Sourcebooks Project – hosted by the Fordham University, the sourcebooks are a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use. The main collections are the Ancient Sourcebook, the Medieval Sourcebook and the Modern History Sourcebook, but there are many other pages of primary sources relating to particular regions, demographics, and major historical events.
MEMSlib – an initiative of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) at the University of Kent, MEMslib provides the latest tools and websites to help with academic research into areas such as manuscript studies, medieval history of art and architecture, and early modern history.