There are many publications, far too many to list here, which may help you in your research.  College histories and registers are included on the pages of the individual institution, but there are more general books which are always worth consulting.

The History of the University of Oxford (OUP), published between 1980 and 2000, in 8 volumes, may seem daunting but the indexes are good, chapter headings usually self-explanatory, and the coverage immense.  If your interest is in aspects of the curriculum, the development of the collegiate system, student life, the impact of the university on national politics ..... begin here!  Most large libraries should either hold a copy or be able to obtain one for you.  The earlier three volume history of the university by C.E. Mallet is still excellent.  There are also the single volume histories: The University of Oxford: a history by L.W.B. Brockliss (Oxford, 2016) and The Illustrated history of Oxford University by John Prest (ed.)  (1993).

Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses.  Foster transcribed, edited, and added to the university’s matriculation register to compile a list of most members of the university between 1500 and 1886.  The volumes are not 100% reliable, partly because not all students formally matriculated, and partly because Foster occasionally made mistakes.  However, as a first port-of-call for information on alumni, it is a tremendous resource.  Foster published a follow-on volume, Oxford Men and their Colleges, which covers the period 1880 to 1892.  Alumni Oxonienses can now be found online through

A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500 (3 vols Oxford 1957–9), and A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford A. D. 1501 to 1540 (Oxford 1974) remain the authoritative biographical registers for the earliest members of the University.

Many colleges have produced their own biographical registers, particularly of the period post-Foster.  From the early 19th century until 1971 , the names of all members of the University were recorded in the annual University Calendar.  Since then, there have been occasional Lists of Members.

Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigienses, again in 8 volumes, is the companion publication for Cambridge. Cambridge alumni can also be found online through A Cambridge Alumni Database.

Unfortunately no longer in print, but tremendously useful, is C. Hibbert, The encyclopaedia of Oxford, (1988).  The book contains brief histories of the colleges and departments, short biographies of significant Oxford men and women, and facts and figures about shops, businesses, clubs, and all other aspects of life in and around the city.

Other University publications which are useful, but may be difficult to find outside academic libraries, are the Oxford University Handbook, the Oxford Historical Register and its supplements, the annual volumes of decrees and regulations, and The Catalogue of Oxford Graduates.  Accounts and anecdotes of university life were written by Anthony Wood, the 17th century antiquarian, and Thomas Hearne, in the 18th century.  These were published by the Oxford Historical Society which continues to produce editions of material from the university and college archives.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (2004), contains biographies of around 50,000 men and women who have impacted on British life.  The ODNB should be available in hard copy and on-line at most libraries.

Who’s Who and Who was Who are familiar volumes giving brief biographical details of significant people from 1849.

Crockfords and its predecessor, the Clergy Lists, published annually from the mid-19th century, include the names of all Church of England clergy in the UK and world-wide.  The volumes are organised by name and by parish, and include the name of a parish’s patron.

Topographical and architectural information on Oxford and the University can be found in volumes 3 and 4 of the Victoria History of the County of Oxford (the VCH), which you can now find online here.  Volume 3 deals with the university and volume 4 with the city.  Most of the counties of England have at least a few volumes in the VCH series so it is well worth seeking out for information on the colleges’ landed estates as well.  Other useful texts are Geoffrey Tyack’s Oxford: an architectural guide, (1998), and Pevsner’s Buildings of England series.

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