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John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera for Historians: Home

A general guide to the John Johnson Collection for Historians

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students/researchers studying History at the University of Oxford and elsewhere, although students/researchers from any field may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out how to find material relating to social and political history, including political cartoons. crime broadsides and material relating to women's suffrage in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.

Games: too trivial for research?

Games can show how history was perceived and how it was presented to the young. As well as the games in the John Johnson Collection, we have acquired a major additional collection of (mainly) board games: the Ballam Collection. Please see our Games for Research LibGuide for more information

Whole length portraits of the Kings and Queens of England, displayed in chronological order, Wallis and Passmore, 1835The Siege of Sebastopol. Board game with rules printed as part of the board. Around 1870

(top) Whole length portraits of the Kings and Queens of England, displayed in chronological order, Wallis and Passmore, 1835

(c) John Johnson Collection: Games 13 (3)

(bottom) Siege of Sebastopol (board game), 1870

(c) John Johnson Collection: Games folder (39)


The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera is a treasure trove for those interested in British History from the 18th century to 1939. Ephemera are uninterpreted documents of the past. Redolent of their period, they give glimpses of what it was like to live at a given time through fascinating details which have often escaped formal history books.

The aim of this guide is to introduce the many finding aids to the Collection and to explain how to use them most efficiently to find subjects, names, places, images, etc.  It is not intended to replace the John Johnson Collection website.

Please note that many major sections of relevance to Historians remain uncatalogued at an item level. There are many reasons for this. Funded digital projects have tended to focus on illustrated rather than purely textual material, and even late 19th/early 20th century events such as the South African War, the Great War and Women's Suffrage contain much which is still in copyright.

You can discover a lot about the content of the Collection from the indexes, especially those specifically relating to Political, Religious, Social and Economic History.

Many indexes exist but are not yet online, so please ask:

If you are an historian of the long 18th century, please see our separate LibGuide: The Long Eighteenth Century in the John Johnson Collection

Key web sites

John Johnson Collection website:

The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (ProQuest). You can access this through your SSO: and from anywhere in the UK with the following url:

Visual Arts Data Service (VADS):

Connected Histories

JJ Coll LibGuides landing page (with links to guides):


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Julie Anne Lambert
John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Libraries
Broad Street
+44 (0)1865 277047

Blogs and Social Media

John Johnson Collection Now and Then. A blog about items in the Collection