Introducing the Punch Historical Archive!


Karen, Reference Manager, writes…

Looking for some political predictions from phrenologists?  How about Victorian era investment advice? If you’re after some scathing commentary on 19th and 20th century society, look no further than the Punch Historical Archive! One hundred and fifty-one years of this legendary satirical magazine have been completely digitised and are now available at your fingertips!

Sketch of Punch by Harry Furniss, from jan 1882 edition
Furniss, Harry. “An Undoubted Old Master.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Jan. 1882: 14. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
Spanning from the very first issue in 1841, all the way until the final issue in 1992, the database contains full colour scans of every issue.

Snippet taken from article: Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles"  Aug. 1841

“Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Aug. 1841: 57. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
In addition to providing a comprehensive archive, the database also offers a collection of fascinating essays from leading scholars.  For example, Dr Annie Grey has analysed the representations of food in Punch, while Professor Brian Maidment investigates early Victorian comics. Of particular interest may be Dr Mike Benbough-Jackson’s article exploring how Punch handled humour during the First World War.

Cartoon taken from Punch Almanack 1915
Raven-Hill, Leonard. “Almanack.” Almanack. Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 1 Jan. 1915: n.p. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
To access the Punch Historical Archive, simply visit the library’s online databases!

Dictionary of National Biography: May’s online resource of the month

Sandeep Dhaliwal, our Tri-borough Reference Librarian, writes:

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. It is free for library members and now includes biographies of 59,003 men and women who died in or before the year 2010 — plus 504 ‘Theme’ articles for reference and research.

If you’re into lists, try Chiefs of the Secret Intelligence Service or Captains of the England Cricket Team– how about a list of Musical chart-toppersAngry young men, or Viking and Scandinavian kings and leaders?

Want to know more about the DNB?

  • No living person is included in the DNB; it currently covers those who died in or before the year 2010.
  • To have an entry in the Dictionary is not an ‘honour;’ rather it’s an acknowledgement that an individual has shaped an aspect of national life (for good or ill), and is duly recorded for today’s, and future readers and researchers with an interest in the British past.
  • Includes over 11,500 portraits covering 2000 years of British history, the portraits include a wide range of forms—busts, medals, statues, effigies, death masks, and silhouettes, as well as more ‘conventional’ paintings and photographs.
  • Accessibility: Free to use and available 24/7!

Below is an example of a typical entry which includes wealth at death, sources and referencing at the very bottom;

Sir Robert William Robson
Sir Robert William Robson

In case you’re interested, Sir Bobby Robson’s wealth at death was £3,552,430!

A full list of online resources which the library service currently offers is available here:
For a demonstration of a particular resource at Kensington Reference Library please e-mail A member of staff will be delighted to help and set you off on your own journey of discovery.

June’s blog entry will feature Learning Nexus.



Calling all history buffs!

Roz Banks, our Tri-borough Customer Services Assistant, writes:

Do you consider yourself a bit of a history buff? Do you want to learn more about our ancestors or how people lived in the past? Perhaps you are an amateur archaeologist, a student of history or just enjoy delving into the past? Then why not pay a visit to Kensington Reference Library and pick up one of our exciting history or archaeology magazines!

We stock the following magazines and also keep back issues:

BBC History
BBC History

BBC History is a monthly publication devoted to British and world history. This exciting publication brings history to life and is the UK’s biggest selling history magazine! Each month you will find topical features, historical analysis, and podcasts featuring interviews with leading academics and historians. The magazine also has regular book reviews, exhibition news and history events taking place around the UK. There is also a monthly crossword for all you history buffs!


History Today
History Today

History Today is a monthly magazine that covers all periods of British history and the rest of the world. It features serious and interesting articles from academics and historians covering lots of new research, reviews and narrative history.

April’s issue features articles on Ukraine, Church and State, Garibaldi in London and Compensating the Railway.


Current Archaeology
Current Archaeology

Current Archaeology is the UK’s biggest selling archaeology magazine.  It is published monthly and features regular articles on excavation, reviews and the latest archaeology news.

In the May edition read all about the Anglo –Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, and the Neolithic Revolution in Britain and Ireland. Plus there is also an exciting review about the new Vikings life and legend exhibition at the British museum.

These magazines and more are all available at the Central Reference Library– come in for a browse and you may find yourself on a journey into the past!