About the digital library

The digital library contains digitised material from the Library's collections and also born-digital material that has been collected and preserved in digital formats.

Link to external library information

Contact us

LSE Library 10 Portugal Street London WC2A 2HD UK


  • Q. How do I search the Webb diaries?

    A: You can perform a full-text search on the diaries by typing in words into the search boxes on the home screen, the quick search box in the top right corner, or on the search page.

    You can use speech marks to perform an exact search, and use the Boolean operators OR and AND, and the exclude box on the search page to narrow or widen your search.

  • Q. How do I search by date?

    A: Unfortunately, Beatrice Webb did not always write her diary in chronological order, for example she would start an entry on one date but would be writing about something that happened in the past, giving that a date too. Therefore one diary entry can in fact have several dates.

    You can still apply a date filter to your search by using the date sliders on the search page and in the search results, but this is only incremental by year. Clicking on the date heading in the search results will order the results by page number, which is as close to chronological order as we can get!

    You can try searching for specific dates using a text search, but be warned that Beatrice did not always standardise her dates, or write every day, so there may not be any text for the date you're looking for, and you might have to try several different date formats, such as 3rd September 1939, 3rd Sept, 3/9/39 etc.

  • Q. How do I view diary entries?

    A: Because of the complexity of the dates within the diary (see above) it is not possible to view individual entries discretely, but instead the pages within a volume on which those entries were written. Clicking on a search result will take you to a webpage with a viewer turned to the correct diary page - you can then view a full-size version of this by clicking on the expand button.

  • Q. How do I use the page viewer?

    A: The page viewer will automatically open a two-page spread of the relevant diary page. From here you can turn pages left and right by clicking on them, and navigate to pages further on in the volume by clicking on the page edges.

  • Q. What is the difference between a manuscript and typescript?

    A: Manuscript means 'written by hand', typescript means written on a typing instrument such as a typewriter. In the case of Beatrice's diaries, the diaries were originally written by hand by Beatrice, and were later typed up by Beatrice and her secretaries. For the 'Webbs on the Web' project, the typescripts were scanned using OCR software to make them fully searchable, which is why the typescript diaries are shown in search results, not the manuscripts.

  • Q. How do I view the manuscripts?

    A: In the page viewer, click on the AB open book icon in the top right hand corner. This opens up the manuscript volume on the right hand side of the typescript page you have been looking at. At this point only one page of typescript and manuscript will be shown, but you can navigate forwards and backwards by using the arrows at the top of the diary page.

    The manuscript will open at the nearest available entry equivalent to the typescript diary page you have open. As this is worked out by date, you may find it easier to sync pages that have a date entry and navigate from there.

    Because of the difference of text size between the manuscript and typescript, one page of typescript might be represented by several pages of manuscript, so you will need to bear this is mind when comparing the two side-by-side. If you navigate beyond your original diary page you can re-sync by clicking the double arrow sync icon above each page.

  • Q. What if I want to view the diaries in person?

    A: Users are welcome to look at the typescript diaries in the LSE archives reading room. Those wishing to view the manuscript diaries must have a bona fide reason for doing so, as they are very fragile.