New in Oxford: Presidential Recordings Digital Addition

I am pleased to announce that the Vere Harmsworth Library, in partnership with the Social Science Library, have purchased online access to the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition for the University.

The Presidential Recordings Programme (PRP), was established by The Miller Center in 1998. Its aim was to make the previously secret taped conversations of six consecutive American Presidents (FDR to Richard Nixon) available for researchers. Covering historical events such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam and Watergate, the tapes offer “a unique and irreplaceable source for the study of U.S. history and American government.”

Previously, Oxford researchers could only access the curated transcripts hosted on the Miller Centre’s website. Now, through the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford researchers can access the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition (PRDE), the online portal for annotated transcripts of the White House tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon era. This includes a searchable database that allows full text searches for specific phrases and terms. It also includes options to filter search results based on dates, participants and topics. The PRDE is continually being updated with new transcripts and recordings, as they become available.

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If you would like any advice on using our databases or resources, please contact the Vere Harmsworth Librarian, Bethan Davies



Online guide to US Government Publications

The Bodleian Libraries are developing an online set of guides to resources at As part of this, we are working on transferring all the information we previously had in the printed guides available in the library (US History Sources and US Government Publications) onto the LibGuides site.  The History guides are still a work in progress, but the US Government Publications guide is now live and available for you to use.  It aims to provide a portal to the many sources of publications and information produced by the US government, both historic and current, held here in the VHL (and elsewhere in Oxford) and online.  We hope you’ll find it useful – please let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions for how it could be improved.  

You can access the guide via, as well as through our website, or directly at

Foreign Office Confidential Prints – new searchable database

Our colleagues over in Official Papers in the Bodleian have created a searchable online database of the Foreign Office Confidential Prints. From the 1820s papers of significance began to be distributed to officials in the Foreign Office, Cabinet and other departments as Confidential Prints. The practice grew until the 1850s when nearly every important dispatch or telegram was routinely printed. The Confidential Prints vary in format from a single page to a substantial volume, many have maps (we have over 700) and diagrams. The documents are numbered 1-10,600 (1827-1914) in roughly order of printing.

For the historian this is an incredible set of primary source documents. They are a window to Britain’s colonial past covering subjects such as slavery, railways, expeditions, diplomatic relations and war, from Abyssinia to Zanzibar. For Americanists, a search on ‘United States’ brings back nearly 800 records.

The index, ‘List of Confidential Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs’ (No. 10330, covers no.1-10,000) has been transcribed into a database. The index was arranged alphabetically by country, and the documents listed roughly in date order.

You can:

  • search for documents with maps by entering map in the subject box
  • search by jurisdiction, date and document number
  • do a keyword search in the subject box
  • email results in a spreadsheet format.

We do not have a complete set of documents at Oxford, so the search will return

  • whether we have the document or not
  • how many pages it has
  • whether it has any illustrations or maps.

Records for 10,001-10,600 are in the process of being added to the database.

The collection is kept in the Official Papers reading room but is not on open shelf. Staff will be happy to fetch documents on request.