Key Sources for Information on Construction History












This page seeks to give those of you looking for more information on a particular aspect of construction history some idea of where to start. Construction History is very broadly defined (read more here) and thus it is impossible to provide a full guide to the range of sources available. The key sources, however, fall into broard categories. Web links to organisations, libraries, museums and archives can be found on the links page. This page provides bibliographies and links to books and articles on various topics. It does not seek to be exhaustive but hopefully will give some guidance for those starting out on research.

The first point to note is that most of the written material on construction history is not available online. The proceedings of the various conferences can be found below, but the basic texts and introductions are still very much print-based and libraries or online bookstores are going to be the first point of call.

International Online Bibliography on Construction History

In 2018 we created the International Bibliography on Construction History as a central repository of information on Construction History. The bibliography is designed so members can log on and upload their own publications and publications in the subject areas they are interested in. It is very much  work in progress and we welcome contributions.

Other Online Bibliographies

When searching on a specific issue, the following online catalogues include good subject indexes:

  1. The online database of the Vernacular Architecture Group includes a sizeable amount of material on building construction.
  2. The online catalogue of the RIBA library catalogues most architectural journals including many   languages
  3. The online subject catalogue of the Society of Antiquaries provides and excellent catalogue of entries in archaeological journals.

In the UK, the Archive Hub is the source for the contents of archives.

There are a great many bibliographies compiled by individuals and groups that can be found on the web. A selection can be found below:

Once you know what books or articles you want, the sources below will help you locate them.

Finding your sources.

Digital Online Books

In the first instance it is worth trying GoogleBooks which has digitised a vast number of books and offers the scans free of charge. The full texts of virtually all English 18th century books can all be found at ECCO but this requires a subscription. Most Universities subscribe. Early English Books Online provides a similar service for pre-1700 works but again requires a University subscription. In general  GoogleBooks is the easiest free source for 19th century books. The Spanish Society has a good set of downloadable historic books on building construction with an obvious concentration on Spanish books but reasonable coverage elsewhere.

Locating Books in Libraries

For a world-wide search, use LibDex which catalogues 17000 academic libraries worldwide or Worldcat.

The Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog trawls a huge number of libraries.

In the UK, the easiest way to locate a book in a library is through COPAC.

The French equivalent is the CCFR (Catalogue Collectif de France).

For German books use the Deutche Biblothek Database.

The Library of Congress website and the British Library are both very useful.

National libraries throughout Europe can be searched on the European Library.

If you cannot get access to these libraries, interlibrary loans are amazingly efficient and operate in an extraordinary number of countries and places.

Finding Journals

Most of the above find journal titles as well, but SUNCAT looks specifically for where journals are held in the UK.

Many journals, including all the issues of Construction History (except those for the last three years) are available online through JSTOR

Finding Archives

In the UK, the Archive Hub is the source for the contents of archives.

Online Digital Proceedings of Conferences  on Construction History

Proceedings of the First International Congress on Construction History. Madrid, 20th – 24th January 2003

Proceedings of the second international congress on Construction History. Queens’ College Cambridge University, 29th March – 2nd April 2006

Proceedings of the third international congress on Construction History. Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, Germany, 20th – 24th May 2009

Proceedings of the Fourth international congress on Construction History, Paris,


Sources of Information on Architectural History

The Images of England project aims to create a ‘point-in-time’ photographic record of England’s listed buildings as well as offering an introduction to the huge variety of listed buildings nationally. Almost 180,000 images of listed buildings, taken for the project, along with the statutory list descriptions, can be viewed by visiting Images of England website.

Canmore contains more than 320,000 records and 1.3 million catalogue entries for archaeological sites, buildings, industry and maritime heritage across Scotland. Compiled and managed by Historic Environment Scotland, Canmore contains information and collections from all its survey and recording work, as well as from a wide range of other organisations, communities and individuals who are helping to enhance this national resource.

Building History
Building History is a free, online, collaborative project that encourages people from across the UK to share information about the history of their towns, roads and buildings. The site acts a framework that allows those conducting family, town and building history research to collaborate with professional historians, academics, genealogists and people who simply want to record memories of how their towns have changed through time.

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The Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Conference are available  to buy on the books page of this site

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Construction History Society
c/o Department of Architecture
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Cambridge, CB1 1PX