The British Library’s collections contain stories of people’s lives worldwide, from the dawn of history to the present day. They are told through the written word, images, audio-visual and digital materials. The Untold Lives blog shares those stories, providing fascinating and unusual insights into the past and bringing out from the shadows lives that have been overlooked or forgotten.
We hope to inspire new research and encourage enjoyment, knowledge and understanding of the British Library and its collections. In addition to stories from the past, we give glimpses of the hidden life of the Library and provide information about events and exhibitions. The blog contains many links to act as signposts to research information and online resources that you can explore for work or pleasure.
The British Library is one of the Copyright Libraries for the UK, which means that a copy of every book, journal, magazine etc published in the UK has to be sent there by law, so their holdings are extensive.
At one time it was also a Copyright Library for several Commonwealth countries. Until about 1964, for example, it was one of the six copyright libraries for South Africa. I remember, as an editor of a couple of small student magazines, addressing copies to "The Keeper of Printed Books, British Museum".
What this means is that as a library of record for several countries, its holdings are extensive, and many quite obscure publications, which might otherwise have vanished, may be found there.
Another source of untold lives is the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, which is worth a look if you are interested in African biography.