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Date updated: 3/11/2022

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.

New Books on open access in LMA’s Information Area

  1. The Mercenary River – Private Greed, Public Good: A History of London’s Water by Nick Higham (24.21 HIG)

    A very readable history of London’s water supply, aimed at the general reader but including original research from records at held at LMA (we hold the records of all eight of London’s water companies) by this former BBC journalist. A good place to start for an overview of this subject, which can be dauntingly complex and a useful addition to our library of material on water.

  2. Vagabonds – Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-Century London by Oskar Jenson (40.2)

    A lively history of London’s poor between 1780-1870 which centres the voices of individuals in the narrative. Jenson is interested in the people who plied their trade on London’s streets – hawkers, beggars, sex workers, performers – how they ended up in that situation and what their trades tell us about the economic/social realities of the time; the author makes an attempt to consider the agency of these individuals. A surprisingly accessible read, with lots of links to LMA’s collections, not least graphic and visual collections relating to ‘Cries of London’ and prints of city streets etc.

New Books on open access in LMA’s Information Area

  1. Bollardology by Cathy Ross (27.15 ROS)

    A delightful history and gazetteer of bollards in the City of London. What do they mean? How old are they? What do they say about the Square Mile today? A fantastic book.

  2. The Council House by Jack Young (28.71 YOU)

    A visual guide to 68 of London’s most iconic housing estates (iconic here in terms of architectural importance, I would suggest). Super photography even in a small format, this is a reminder of the creativity of architects and town planners in London’s post-war period.

  3. A Mighty Capital Under Threat: The Environmental History of London 1800-2000 edited by Bill Luckin and Peter Thorsheim (25.061 LUC)

    This collection of essays shows how the nineteenth century’s largest city dealt with new environmental threats from smoke, waste, disease and polluted water. They look at early environmental movements, green space and how areas of rural Middlesex rapidly became urban (Hackney being a case study here).

  4. The Nine Lives of John Ogilby: Britain’s Master Map Maker and His Secrets by Alan Ereira (65.2 ERE)

    The Ogilby and Morgan Map of London is one that many of us refer to in the course of our work, but did you know Ogilby was a poet, soldier, sea captain, shipwreck survivor, barrister and the royal cosmographer? This biography pays close attention to the creation of Britannia, Ogilby’s pioneering and political road atlas of Britain.

  5. In the Shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral: The Churchyard the Shaped London by Margaret Willes (56.5 WIL)

    Willes explores the history of St Paul’s Churchyard, tracing the history of the neighbourhood immediately around the Cathedral that was a theatre for debate and protest, knowledge and gossip. She covers the religious debates at St Paul’s Cross, the bookshops and theatre, the luxury trades that gathered there after the Great Fire and the churchyard’s increasing importance in the English literary world, and how this vibrant community disappeared.
  1. The Margins of Late Medieval London 1430-1540 by Charlotte Berry (67.4 BER)

    This book seeks to explore the fringes of medieval London at the level of individual neighbourhoods, which Berry argues are absent from contemporary and modern representations of the medieval City. She explores the landscape and economy, the networks that existed in neighbourhoods (using wills as a key source to map them), migration to and within the City, the law, control of behaviour and reputations and how people from the margins could be heard. While this is a dense academic text, it is very readable and likely to be useful for those interested in life in the medieval City.

  2. Outrageous! The Story of Section 28 and Britain’s Battle for LGBT Education – Paul Baker (40.451 BAK)

    Readable and occasionally very funny account of the effect of the passing of Section 28 into law in 1988 from a personal perspective. This law – which prohibited local authorities from teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality” – galvanized mass protests and led to the formation of Stonewall and OutRage! Baker looks at the background to the law, its consequences, its repeal and legacy. As you might expect the book includes numerous references to the Inner London Education Authority, as well as to London local authorities who found themselves very much out of step with the Thatcher government on LGBT issues.

  3. Golden Lane Estate: An Urban Village by Stefi Orazi (28.061 GOL)

    The Golden Lane Estate was designed by the same architects who would later go on to create the Barbican (Chamberlin, Powell and Bon) but this development, from the early 1950s, is of a very different character. It was a brave experiment by the City of London Corporation who realised that keyworkers needed to live centrally and its location on the boundary of Finsbury was an affordable compromise. The flats were exceptionally well appointed and designed and are still very much in demand. This book gives an overview of the development, interviews with residents, photographs of flats and the communal areas and plans of flat types. Includes material from the City of London collections.

  4. Building Utopia: The Barbican Centre edited by Nicholas Kenyon (28.061 BAR)

    This lavishly illustrated volume celebrates the 50th birthday of the Barbican Centre and gives the official history of the cultural venues at the Centre (as opposed to the housing development). It explores the history behind the development, its design, graphic identity and the art, music and theatre that has been presented there. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more about the library, given its prominence in the Centre, or the role of the Centre’s open/social spaces, but there is lots of interest in this book for anyone interested in the history of the development.

  5. Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London by Simon P Newman (20.171 NEW)

    In 1655 white Londoners began advertising in early newspapers for information on enslaved people who had escaped. Using the newspaper adverts for these so-called runaways, Newman brings to light this history of slavery in England as revealed in the stories of the enslaved individuals. The book looks at the types of escape attempts made, journeys taken and the networks of support (and informers) that existed. This is an important contribution to our understanding of the lives of enslaved people in Britain, which made use of LMA’s Switching the Lens dataset. (This book is available to download for free via the University of London Press website.

  6. Waterloo Sunrise: London from the Sixties to Thatcher by John Davis (67.8 DAV)

    Davis explores the transformative years of the sixties and seventies, covering a range of topics such as eating out in London, Soho's sex trade, boutique fashion, gentrification, tourism, suburbia and the welfare state. He emphasises the way London built a global reputation for youthful confidence in the 1960s and how this optimism started to decline as London struggled to grapple with the problems of deindustrialisation, inner-city blight and racial tensions. Davis argues that the London that existed by the time of Thatcher's election in 1979 already displayed many of the features that would come to be associated with Thatcher's Britain in the 1980s. As you might expect, Davis makes exhaustive use of the Greater London Council archive held at LMA, and is expert at excavating great quotes and anecdotes.

    Available on open access in the Mediatheque:

    London in Paintings: Guildhall Art Gallery (45.04 GUI)

    An introductory guide to the Gallery’s collection based on 24 images from their holdings, which are well reproduced in this helpful guide.


  1. The London Jubilee Book 1376-1387 edited by Caroline Barron and Laura Wright (60.1 BAR)

    The London 'Jubilee Book' (officially the Liber de Ordinancionibus) was long believed to have been lost. However, a fifteenth century copy of the book has been discovered within a manuscript held at Trinity College Cambridge. This volume is a transcript of the manuscript with modern English translation, introduction and notes. What is the Jubilee Book? In summer 1376 a spirit of reform captured the City, and a number of changes were suggested to make those who governed the City more responsible to the citizens. A committee was set up to examine the ordinances at the Guildhall and to present to the Commonality suggestions for improvement. The committee later went on to produce this text, but it caused an almighty row and to restore order and end the dispute the Jubilee Book was publicly burnt outside the Guildhall in March 1387.

  2. Going to Church in Medieval England, Nicholas Orme (53.01 ORM)

    This book charts the story of the parish church and its role in daily life in the Middle Ages. Orme explores how parishes came into existence, how they were staffed and how buildings were used, the congregation and the staging of worship as well as looking at who didn't attend church. Stuffed with lots of potentially useful material for those interested in parishes, this is very readable (and includes material from LMA).

  3. Courage to Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967-1990, Dr Clifford Williams (40.451 WIL)

    The story of the London Gay Teenage Group, which existed for over 20 years and provided a refuge to teenagers from the commercial gay scene. The author (a former member) sets the context of the groups existence within the challenges faced by young gay people during the period and demonstrates the activity of organised gay youth. Includes numerous references to ILEA and the GLC and makes use of some of their records held at LMA.

  4. Crossing Continents: A History of Standard Chartered Bank by Duncan Campbell Smith (33.22 CAM)

    Standard Chartered Bank (formed from the Standard Chartered Bank of South Africa and the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China) financed the global trade at the core of the British Empire from the 1860s. Campbell-Smith tells the story of the bank's dominance, its declining fortune and its pivot to Asia's emerging markets in the twentieth century. The archives are at LMA which was closely involved in the research which led to this publication (CLC/B/207).

  5. The Photography of Bedford Lemere and Co by Nicholas Cooper (45.8 COO)

    Arguably the pre-eminent firm of English architectural photographers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this English Heritage publication features over 250 photographs from its collection, with images of London and of early cinemas, power stations, department stores etc - an impressive record of commercial spaces, which also include photographs of war work between 1914-1918 (many photographs taken by the firm appear in LMA’s own collections).

  6. Architectural Guide London: Twentieth-Century Housing Projects by Tjerk Ruimschotel (45.6 RUI)

    Gazetteer style guide to London housing estates developments, arranged by date. Editor's choices include the biggest, the best, the most distinctive, and the most innovative, so this includes a large range of historical estates, including those built pre-LCC and a smattering of those built in the 1990s onwards. Includes lots of good colour photographs, and descriptions of developments are short but fact packed. Potentially very useful for anyone interested in housing at specific dates, but who needs to find examples.

  7. Jewish Autonomy in a Slave Society: Suriname in the Atlantic World 1651-1825 by Aviva Ben-Ur (20.177 BEN)

    Ben-Ur explores the Jewish community in Suriname, one of the Dutch colonies on the South American mainland. Suriname was home to the most privileged Jewish community in the Americas, where Jews (most of Iberian origin) enjoyed religious liberty, entered all trades, owned plantations and slaves and had a say in colonial governance. Ben-Ur sets their history in the wider context of Atlantic slavery and colonialism: examining their relations between enslaved and free people of African descent and comparing their settlement with other 'frontier communities'. Ben-Ur made use of materials held at LMA for her research (specifically the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation records at LMA/4521).

  8. The Exeter Cloth Dispatch Book 1763-1765 (Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 63) edited by Todd Gray (35.18 GRA)

    The Exeter Cloth Dispatch book is a volume of cloth samples or swatches, bound into a volume owned by Claude Passavant, a cloth/wool merchant. The book is a remarkable survival for the swatches have been well preserved and are very bright in colour. The conservation of the volume was done by the LMA conservation team funded by the Devon and Cornwall Record Society. This volume brings together scholarship on the volume itself and the wider Exeter/Devon wool trade as well as a full facsimile of the manuscript which should be used in lieu of the original (CLC/B/227/MS09803).

  9. The Fire Court vol. 3 edited by Ian Doolittle and the late Philip Jones (60.1 LON)

    This is the third volume of the calendar of judgements and decrees of the Court of Judicature appointed to determine differences between landlords and tenants as to rebuilding after the Great Fire, covering volumes E and F (CLA/039/01/005 and 006). The two previous books were published in 1966 and 1970, so this has been long-awaited (Ian Doolittle is working on later volumes in the same series).
  1. Black London by Avril Nanton and Jody Burton (67.0 2021)

    What a great idea - a guide to London's black history, arranged by location with a handy set of maps, this highlights the people and places that tell the stories of black Londoners, from the Tudor period to the present day. There's even an entry for LMA, to represent the Huntley Archives.

  2. Black 1919: Riots, Racism and Resistance in Imperial Britain by Jaqueline Jenkinson (20.16 JEN)

    In the aftermath of the First World War, a series of riots broke out in British port cities (including London) where white working class people targeted black workers, their families and black-owned businesses and property. This book sets out the economic and social causes of the riots, and their impact on Britain's relationship with its empire and colonial subjects. It looks at who the rioters were, police procedure, the court cases that followed and longer term consequence for black British workers and their families. Uses sources from LMA’s collections (mainly the sessions records).

  3. London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race by Kennetta Hammond Perry (20.16 PER)

    The Windrush generation came to Britain on the basis that citizenship was theirs by birth-right, but while Britain was seen as a paragon of equal justice, many of those new arrivals found a nation that was hostile and unwilling to incorporate black people into its concept of Britishness. Perry brings together a range of sources such as records of grassroots political organisations, photographs, migrant narratives and calypso music to explore how people navigated the politics of race and citizenship in Britain and the critical role that black people played in the formation of contemporary Britain. Perry uses sources from all over the United Kingdom for this book but makes use of the records of the National Council of Social Services records (ACC/1888) from LMA.

  4. Thomas Kytson's 'Boke of Remembraunce' (1529-1540), edited by Colin J. Brett (60.41 KYT)

    The 54th volume of the London Record Society's series, this is an edition of a manuscript volume of Thomas Kytson's commercial dealings. Kyston was a London Alderman, mercer and Merchant Adventurer and this volume describes his purchases of cloth, his shipments to the Low Countries, the sales of spices and other goods, as well as information about Kytson's fellow merchants and family.

  5. Five Parishes in Late Medieval and Tudor London: Communities and Reform - Gary Gibbs (67.4 GIB)

    This is a forensic study of five parishes in the City of London where Gibbs explores the governance, structure, fraternities and operations of the parishes in minute detail, revealing the unique character of individual parishes and the nature of specific neighbourhoods in the City. A fascinating approach that comes from detailed study. Records of the parishes are all held at LMA, and this could be a useful text for researchers working in this period.

  6. Merchants: The Community that Shaped England's Trade and Empire by Edmond Smith (35.3 SMI)

    Smith traces the lives of English merchants in the century following Elizabeth I's ascent to the throne, when English trade grew spectacularly as innumerable ventures were launched across the globe. His examination of their behaviour, relationships and mutual collaboration form a study of this community of merchants, which Smith argues provide the origins of a globalised Britain. As you might imagine, Smith makes use of the records of the City Corporation and of some of the livery companies held by LMA (the latter accessible via Guildhall Library) in his work.

  7. Living with Shakespeare: Saint Helen's Parish, London, 1593-1598 by Geoffrey Marsh (67.5 MAR)

    It is hard to believe there are any documents left that haven't already been scrutinised and re-scrutinised by generations of Shakespeare scholars, but here Marsh has a go - focusing on Shakespeare's life following the 1593-4 plague, when he was turning 30 and evolving from a newcomer to London's theatre to an established name. He does this through an exploration of the records of St Helen's Bishopsgate, looking at the parish's religious, political and neighbourly intersections and what influence these may have had on the bard. This is a pretty lavish publication, with lots of illustrations.

  8. London Parish Maps to 1900 - Ralph Hyde (65.21 HYD)

    Ralph Hyde, former Keeper of Maps and Prints at Guildhall Library (who died in 2015) compiled this single catalogue of over 470 parish maps. This commemorative volume, including illustrations of 340 of the maps, published by the London Topographical Society has a great deal of potential use for researchers trying to identify maps of specific areas, and as you might expect it includes a large quantity of maps from LMA with reference numbers to the Collections Catalogue and to the London Picture Archive.

  9. London and its Asylums 1888-1914: Politics and Madness by Robert Ellis (26.2 ELL)

    Explores the impact politics had on mental health care in the period through a study of the London County Council. Cleverly structured - it sets the context of London's asylums, then looks at the effect of a range of issues: new forms of administration; finance; architecture; and what Ellis calls the 'politics of difference' in how the LCC treated 'foreign lunatics'. As you might imagine, it has an extensive list of sources from LMA’s collection and a good bibliography.

  10. Idiocy, Imbecility and Insanity in Victorian Society: Caterham Asylum 1867-1911 by Stef Eastoe (26.21 CAT)

    This academic book examines the understudied history of the so-called 'incurables' in the Victorian period, the patients often described as idiots, imbeciles, and the weak-minded, as opposed to those who were thought to have curable conditions. Caterham was England's first state 'imbecile asylum' (later becoming St Lawrence's Hospital, records at LMA under H23/SL), opened to take pressure off London's workhouses and was always designed as a long-stay hospital for 'incurables' (in contrast to other lunatic asylums). Eatoe examines how Caterham came into being, the types of patients, their daily lives and what happened to people who left. There's also an interesting chapter on the photographs of patients, which survive in the casebooks.

  11. Survey of London vol. 53: Oxford Street, edited by Andrew Saint (70.7 OXF)

    Richly illustrated volume on the history and architecture of Oxford Street, particularly strong on the changing nature of the street and individual department stores. As reliably rigorous as you would expect from the Survey, it is also very readable. Highly recommended - a must for anyone interested in the location or the history of shopping.

  12. A Practical Guide to Searching LGBTQIA Historical Records - Norena Shopland (60.0 SHA)

    This guide offers a range of tools for researchers uncovering material from online and hard copy archive sources, including glossaries to keywords used in historical records to identify LGBT+ people, guidance on getting the best out of online newspapers and genealogy websites, and guidance on types of archive collections that can yield results. The sections on archives and museums are thorough and the glossaries are very useful. Recommended for researchers working in this area (LMA gets a mention in the specialist repositories section).

  1. London Topographical Record no. 32 (60.9 LTS)

    The 2021 edition of the London Topographical Society publication is primarily focussed on the seventeenth century, with insights into the way Londoners lived at the time of the Civil War and the Great Fire. An index can be found on their website.

  2. London Journal (July 2021, 67.2 LON)

    A bumper edition including articles on promenading and place-realist theatre; women, guilds and the tailoring trades: occupational training of Merchant Taylor's Co apprentices in early modern London; the uses and congregational experiences of London's Wesleyan Methodist Chapels (1851-1932); and alcohol and personal security in the built environment - student engagement in the night-time economy.

  3. Newsletter of the Camden History Society, September and November 2021 (720 CAM)

    Articles on Rhodes farmhouse and Hawley Lock cottages, Fenton House, Hylda Court, 20 Albert Street and novelist George Macdonald.

  4. The Historian, Autumn 2021 (66.0 HIS)

    Includes articles on old care in the time of crisis - London in the 16C; and South London and public health.

  5. Cockney Ancestor (61.2 EAS)

    Articles on John Wyburd; Scottish families in East London; family bakers and cakemakers; Buckhurst Hill - a Victorian new town for east enders; drain covers and founders; and ordinary east end women and their unknown working lives.

  6. London Journal (July 2021, 67.2 LON)

    Derek Keene obituary; Covid commentaries: London's cultural landscape; Promenading, PAR [practice as research] and place realist theatre; Women, Guilds and the Tailoring Trades: occupation training of Merchant Taylor's Co apprentices in early modern London; the uses and congregational experiences of London's Wesleyan Methodist Chapels (1851-1932); Alcohol and personal security in the built environment - student engagement in the night-time economy.
  7. Metropolitan (Journal of the London Westminster and Middlesex Family History Society, September 2021, 61.2 LON)

    Life of Ignatius Sancho; animals in war memorial; birth records; Holborn's extra parochial areas

  8. London Topographical Society Newsletter (May 21, 60.9 LTS)

    Changing London - North of King's Cross; old London Bridge; Who owned the City of London in 1666; London peregrinations of John Collier; Exploring North East London - new walking routes and maps; Deptford Market Yard scheme; additions of landscaped London sights to the National Register of Parks and Gardens; William Alister Macdonald and his drawings of the Thames

  9. London Landscapes (Summer 2021, 48.1 LON)

    Suffragette gardener Helen Colt; skateboarding and open spaces; development in city green spaces

  10. Camden History Review (No. 44 2021, 72.0 CAM)

    Unrealised railway schemes for Camden and Primrose Hill; Belle Bilton, showgirl; Samuel Wesley, organist and composer; T.S. Eliot and Bloomsbury; The High and Ham; R.D. Blackmore's Camden years

  11. Archives and Records (Spring 2021, 60.8 SOC)

    Transformative justice: transdisciplinary collaborations for archival autonomy; electronic personhood and an evolving theory of archival diplomatics; connecting archives and public history; safeguarding the nation's digital memory, a Bayesian model; records management and archiving in the pharmaceutical industry; what cartography can tell us about archival description