What's in the Catalogue


There are over 70,000 records in this catalogue, comprising over 15 years of work by our librarians and archivists as well as many volunteers. However, not all material held at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is yet included in this database.

You can expect to find included:
  • Library collections of books, pamphlets and periodicals, and some audio-visual materials, eg dvds.
  • Over 30,000 items within the Image Collection, including the Island History Trust collection of photographs from the Isle of Dogs. The cataloguing of the Image Collection is nearly complete, thanks largely to the efforts of volunteers.
  • Most of our catalogued archive collections (the main exception is a significant proportion of the former “Deeds collection”, for which a manual catalogue is available on site.
What is not included:
  • The full collection of local newspapers, which are available at the library on microfilm. Only part of this collection is included in the online catalogue.
  • Parts of our Press cuttings and ephemera. These can be accessed in the reading room using the in-house Classification Scheme and Subject Guides.
  • Parts of our Map collection.
  • Museum objects and Paintings are not yet fully catalogued or accessible.
  • Other archive collections which are not yet catalogued or accessible.

Inclusive language and accessible terminology

Offensive language and outdated terminology exist in our catalogue. Many catalogue descriptions come from original titles of material they are describing. They may include language we would not use today. Terms used may be derogatory, inappropriate, abusive, harmful, and offensive. Descriptions will cover race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, and mental health. Collections represent the time and context in which material was created. Original descriptions to material such as given titles are an essential part of the library item or archival record. We recognise there is more work we can do to place this language into context. Using the Inclusive Terminology Guide and Glossary for the Cultural Heritage Sector, by Carissa Chew, National Library of Scotland, May 2021 and updates on the Collection Trust website.

we aim to

  • Add explanatory notes
  • Add alternative inclusive terminology
  • Improve keywords to subjects

These ongoing actions will help make our records more accessible for everyone. Help us improve our online catalogue. We welcome your feedback if you find descriptions you think need improvement. Email: localhistory@towerhamlets.gov.uk with further details.

Collection highlights

Highlights from across our collections about London’s East End