The Churchill Archive, a database available from Bloomsbury Publishing, consists of 800,000 digitized documents that are held by the Churchill Archives Center in Cambridge. This vast trove provides primary source materials for the study of Winston Churchill’s life as well as the history of British politics and international relations for the first half of the twentieth century. Documents include Churchill’s personal correspondence with his family and friends; financial and legal papers; political and constituency-related materials; ministerial and official correspondence; drafts of his speeches; as well as notes, drafts, and proofs of his many articles and books.
Within the database documents can be found by using the catalogue browser or the search tool. The catalogue divides the papers into two series. The Chartwell Papers (CHAR) include all documents dating before July 27, 1945, while the Churchill Papers (CHUR) consists of materials created after that date. Browsing within the catalogue will allow documents to be found by using the detailed descriptions and classifications which in some cases go down to the item level. The database’s search tool has quick and advanced searching. Both modes allow for documents to be located by the keyword searching of the catalogue’s descriptions and classifications. It does not search the full-text of each individual document. The search results can be limited by date range, places, named individuals, periods, and topics. The documents themselves are viewed in an image browser, which while effective is not as user-friendly as other databases. The document images are generally crisp and high quality and can be saved as PDFs or printed.
Beyond the digitized documents the database includes educational materials aimed at both higher education and schools. Among these materials are 15 essays by Churchill scholars, including “Churchill and Empire” by Richard Toye and “Churchill and Women” by Paul Addison.
Access to the Churchill Archive is by annual institutional subscriptions; individual subscriptions are not available. Recently the archive has been made available free of charge to schools worldwide. The Churchill Archive is available here and a video tour of the database is available here.