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Date created: 9/30/2020

The LMA library comprises over 100,000 books covering all aspects of the history and development of the Greater London area. The library aims to help anyone interested in the metropolis or needing facts about specific legislation, buildings, events or people in London. The library is open to everyone without charge for reference only. Only a small proportion of the library holdings are on open access in the Information Area, and you will need a History card to order other items from the collection.

London Government

The holdings of the library are particularly strong in the history of the administration of London. There are sets of printed and indexed minutes for the Greater London Council and the Inner London Education Authority and earlier London-wide authorities, together with a  large series of publications which cover a range of subjects from timetables for workmen’s trains to GLC anti-racist housing policies. There are printed minutes and reports from many London borough councils and their predecessors, and a series of statistical returns for the whole of London from the nineteenth century onwards. The library has good holdings of Acts of Parliament, including local acts and private acts relating to London, and of parliamentary papers.

Local history

In addition to extensive sections on general London history and topography, the library has a wide range of holdings covering the history of individual areas, streets and buildings in London. These include a large number of fine illustrated eighteenth and nineteenth century books.

Family history

A wide range of books covering all aspects of research into your family history are available. Street directories, registers and yearbooks can offer an insight into where ancestors lived and what they might have been doing, as well as holding holds many publications from family history societies and other organisations.

Social history

Books cover many aspects of London life, from public transport to gentlemen’s clubs. The library covers services administrated by the GLC and its predecessors, such as education and parks, and by other major London institutions like hospitals, charities and theatres.


The library holds a large range of journals and periodicals covering a multitude of subjects. It also keeps back numbers of periodicals including the "Illustrated London News" and "The Builder".

LMA Book Group

If you are interested in writing which supports archive research, LMA Book Group meets monthly to explore a range of London writing, with a remit covering fiction and non-fiction for all periods in London's history. Further details may be found on LMA’s Eventbrite page.

  1. London Bridge and its Houses c.1209-1761 by Dorian Gerhold (27.51 LON)
    The latest in the series of publications from the London Topographical Society, this impressive work studies the history of London Bridge in remarkable depth. Assisted by facsimiles of original documents, excellent diagrams, and modern reconstructions, this microscopic study of the individual properties on the Bridge is an impressive example of archival research.
  2. A Family in the Funeral Trade: The Grovers of Ealing by Eileen Sanderson (35.33 GRO)
    This is a history of the business of J. & F. Grover, a family of undertakers from Ealing (their records are held at LMA under ACC/0694). It studies the growth of the trade of undertakers in the nineteenth century, the changing local area and the role of women in the business, and makes good use of the original records.
  3. Very British: A German Point of View by Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (66.6083)
    This publication accompanies an exhibition currently on display at the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik in Bonn which looks at the historical relationship between Great Britain and Germany and the connections between the countries. Collections from LMA were used by researchers compiling the exhibition. This is a well-produced, heavily illustrated guide, which includes serious subjects such as the World Wars, Brexit, Churchill and even more serious subjects such as football, beach towels and the Beatles.
  4. The Parish Atlas of England: An Atlas of English Parish Boundaries by T.C.H. Cockin (65.21 COC)
    Many of you will be familiar with Phillimore's Atlas, which lays out the parish boundaries of England. This is a companion volume which takes Phillimore's concept and creates something more modern and complex. It isn't the easiest volume to use - the graphics which explain how it works are tucked away at the back and you really need to spend time deciphering entries - but it has the potential to be useful for queries regarding parish boundary changes, extra-parochial areas etc; likely to be especially useful in the cramped areas around the City and Middlesex (for which Phillimore doesn't always give very much detail).
  5. Travellers' Children in London Fields by Colin O'Brien (20.176 O'BR)
    Hackney looks like another world in these evocative images of a group of Irish travellers' children that O'Brien befriended for three weeks in 1987. O'Brien was a compulsive photographer of London life for over 50 years and was a resident of Clerkenwell. You can see more work on the Colin's website.
  6. Spitalfields Nippers by Horace Warner (40.2 WAR)
    More photographs - this time the Edwardian photographs of children taken by Horace Warner on the streets of Spitalfields. Commissioned by the Bedford Institute (now Quaker Social Action) for use in their fundraising, these moving images provide a powerful piece of social reportage (though there are interesting questions to be asked regarding the staging of the images). The interesting introduction includes biographical information about Warner and the local context.

  7. The Gentle Author's Cries of London (40.21 GEN)
    Another attractively designed title from Spitalfields Life Books, this title introduces the long history of the cries of London, selecting a series of notable examples to reproduce, and providing details of the artists and the distinctive features of their cries. It also looks at the legacy of the cries in modern times (for example, cigarette cards). A very useful introduction to the genre.

  1. Camden History Review (no. 43) - the new issue includes an excellent article on the playground at Coram's Fields by John Mason, and an extended history of 218 High Holborn by Stephen W. Job. Recommended.
  2. Metropolitan - the Journal of the London Westminster & Middlesex Family History Society - September 2019 includes details of the upcoming changes to the registration of marriages through the creation of a Marriage Document which will replace the church's marriage registers and the marriage certificate. Concerns have been raised as the parties to the marriage will have to ensure their Marriage Document is deposited with the Register Office within 7 days of the marriage. Existing marriage registers will be closed, though there is speculation that the C of E may well develop a register book for marriages solemnized in Anglican churches in the same way as baptisms etc. An issue to keep an eye on.