Publications & Projects

A stack of the 'Big Red Books', the flagship publication of the VCH

Founded in 1899 and dedicated to Queen Victoria, the VCH is an encyclopaedic record of England’s places and people from earliest times to the present day. It is without doubt the greatest publishing project in English local history, having built an international reputation for scholarly standards. Based at the Institute of Historical Research since 1933, the VCH is written by historians working in counties across England and published in a series of  ‘big red books’ by Boydell and Brewer for the University of London. For a full list of titles and their contents click here.  

Over 150 of those titles are now available online at www.british-history.ac.uk.

Since 2000 the VCH has involved volunteers in 10 different counties in researching the history of their own localities, from the city of Sunderland to the Cornish fishing villages of Newlyn and Mousehole. As a result of that work, assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the VCH has produced 15 local history studies in paperback (the England's Past for Everyone series published by Phillimore) and a new Explore website, as well as the Learning Zone for schools. Projects in 20 counties

The VCH remains at work in 20 counties.  Draft text of parish and urban histories intended for publication in 'red books' and information on the research projects which will lead to future publications can be found county by county as part of the Counties section.  The results of research carried out as part of our county projects are also published on the Explore website under thematic sections related to the structure of VCH 'red books'.

 Next steps

  • To continue to research and publish ‘big red books’ incorporating volunteers’ work;
  • to seek opportunities for new funding for projects in more counties;
  •  to give early access to VCH histories through drafts on our county websites;
  •  to publish a new paperback series on particular places and themes;
  •  to work with others to make ‘VCH Explore’ an attractive and reliable local history resource for all;
  •  to make the whole VCH series available on British History Online