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English Language: a short guide to online resources: Paper 6

Subjects: English

Paper 6: Language, Persuasion, People, Things

This LibGuide has been designed for those studying Paper 6: Language, Persuasion, People, Things.

In the left-hand column below you will find a list of Quick Links to all resources mentioned, as well as links to useful dictionaries. To the right you will find links to websites and databases recommended for this paper. if you need help using any of these resources please contact staff at the EFL on

Please also see the additional sections in this LibGuide on: Text Analysis and Corpora  

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words - past and present - from across the English-speaking world. The OED Online also features the Historical Thesaurus of the OED, which arranges the dictionary by meaning. 

N.B. The current online version of the OED is derived from the printed second edition of 1989, which is in turn based on the original edition published 1884-1928. A full revision of the OED for its third edition began in the late 1990s. This is a large-scale, long-term undertaking. As of 2012, about one third of entries in the online edition had been updated. The dates of the latest upload are provided for your information. However, bear in mind that not all entries have been fully revised from their original entries (apart from bibliographical standardisation) so it is always worth checking the date information at the foot of the page and the latest date of quotations in the entry to ascertain how old the entry you are viewing may be.

Johnson's Dictionary

The full page image scans of Johnson's Dictionary are available via Eighteenth Century Collections Online. You can also access a transcribed version at - not all entries have yet been transcribed.  Johnson's Dictionary Online is an easily searchable version of the first edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language. It allows you to view entires online and see a scan of the original page entry.

Oxford Reference

Oxford Reference brings together over 2 million entries from across Oxford's Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Companions. 

It allows you to search across hundreds of different language dictionaries including American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand English.  You can also browse or search many subject specific dictionaries such as Dictionary of Literary Terms, Dictionary of critical theory, Dictionary of Drama.


Defining Gender


Defining Gender explores the study and analysis of gender, leisure and consumer culture with original primary source material from British archives. It features a broad range of thematically organised documents and provides an excellent opportunity for comparative study and research. Manuscripts, printed works and illustrations combine to address the key issues from both masculine and feminine perspectives. They are indexed to provide ready accessibility.


Medieval Travel Writing


Medieval Travel Writing presents manuscripts of some of the most important works of European travel writing from the later medieval period. The chief focus is on journeys to central Asia and the Far East, including accounts of travel to Mongolia, Persia, India, China and South-East Asia. The collection also includes a number of important accounts of travels to or through the Holy Land although in this it makes no claims to full or even broad coverage: a separate collection, covering crusading and pilgrimage narratives, would be required for that. It features a number of medieval maps such as the famous ‘Beatus’ and ‘Psalter’ maps, individual manuscript illuminations, and some modern translations of key travel texts. It should become an indispensable source for scholars of medieval travel, geography, exploration, trade, literature, and the new field of medieval postcolonial studies.

Language of the Media

There are over 70 different newspaper subscriptions on SOLO which can help you look at the language of the media. These include historical collections as well as current content. Databases include:

17th - 18th Century Burney Newspaper Collection

British Library Newspaper Collections

Welsh Newspapers Online (1804-1919)

American Periodicals (1740-1940)

For the most up-to date current newspapers look at Nexis UK, which is updated daily.

The Art of Advertising - Bodleian Exhibition


The Art of Advertising tells the story of British advertising from the mid 18th century to the 1930s through an incredible collection of handbills, trade cards, novelties, posters and much more. Full details, including links to images of items from the exhibition, can be found on the Bodleian website:

The John Johnson Collection

The John Johnson Collection

This collection provides access to thousands of items selected from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, offering unique insights into the changing nature of everyday life in Britain in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Advertising Archives

This collection spans the period from the mid-1800s to the present day and covers:

  • British & American press adverts
  • British & American magazine covers and artwork (including story illustrations)
  • French & Spanish magazine art
  • British TV advertising stills
  • Mail order catalogues
  • Posters, postcards, menus, theatre programmes & other ephemera
  • a wide selection of vintage magazines

This archive is freely available on the web at:

You will need to register to view larger images and save picture searches.

A Quick Start guide is available at:

Lexicons of Early Modern English

Lexicons of Early Modern English is a historical database of monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries, lexical encyclopedias, hard-word glossaries, spelling lists, and lexically-valuable treatises surviving in print or manuscript from about 1475 to 1755.