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Researching Historic Great Britain

By Cheryl Bolen

Researching Historic Great Britain:

The Complete Guide to A to Z Bibliographies,

British Museums, Reference Libraries, Local Contacts

Kristine Hughes

Self Published, 1998 (second edition)

First, a disclaimer: I am not acquainted with Kristine Hughes, and I have nothing to gain by touting her reference book.

Hughes's reference has been updated, according to her website, and is now available as a CD at the author's website for $24. I purchased my paper copy at the 1998 Beau Monde conference in Anaheim for $20. I may have to spring for a "searchable" CD because I've found this volume a handy reference.

Hughes is probably more well known for her hardback Writer's Digest book Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England from 1811-1901.

For the most part, the volume reviewed here is a 100-plus page book that is little more than a bibliography, but Hughes has painstakingly divided the reference bibliographies into categories, such as periods of English history, architecture, banking and currency, children, commerce, crime (with punishment and courts), customs, diaries, interiors, fashion, food, peerage, servants, and publishing.

Also, language, London, maps, marriage and medicine, military, royalty, painters, sexuality, society, sports, theatre, transportation and travel.

The section on diaries—of special interest to this reviewer—also gives bibliographical information on various books of letters and correspondence.

In addition to the bibliography, there is a section on querying the experts. It lists contact information for various public entities throughout Britain. Libraries in the major cities are listed, too. My copy of Researching Historic Great Britain is outdated because websites were not deemed necessary in 1998. I'm assuming her revised edition on the CD is up to date in that respect.

She also has listings for museums throughout Great Britain, ranging from postal museums to ones dedicated to smuggling history. There is also a lengthy list of regimental museums. In all, encapsulated information on nearly 400 museums is given. Again, my copy does not include websites, but most website names should correspond to the property's name.

Who knew there was a museum dedicated to the Metropolitan Police Thames Division dating to 1798?

The last section of the book is a dictionary-type peerage. Those not fortunate enough to have their own Burke's (as I am) will enjoy browsing through the list of thoroughly English surnames, which is most helpful for our works in progress.—Reviewed by Cheryl Bolen, whose out-of-print Regency-set historical are now available as eBooks at amazon, Barnes & Nobel and all digital formats.

This article was first published in The Quizzing Glass in September 2011.

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