Trials until 13 February: ‘Public petitions 1813-1918’ and ‘House of Lords Papers 1800-1910’

Colleagues in Official Papers, Bodleian Law Library, have organised two trials which may be of interest to historians and are now available via the UK Parliamentary Papers (UKPP) database in SOLO. Please send feedback to Hannah Chandler by 13 February when the trials end.

Trial 1: Public petitions, 1833-1918

Trial 2: new content added to the existing House of Lords material ‘House of Lords papers 1800-1910’. Please note we have access to House of Lords papers from 1900 to the present via Public Information Online.

To search in either of these trials, use the Advanced Search in UKPP.

Learn about UKPP and sign up for the Bodleian iSkills UK Parliamentary and Government materials – an introduction, Wed 23. Jan. @ 10-11.30am.

Public petitions, 1833-1918

Public Petitions to Parliament, 1833-1918 is an online module of Parliamentary Papers covering the records of the Select Committee on Public Petitions, 1833-1918. It includes individually rekeyed metadata records for every one of the >900,000 petitions accepted by Parliament and includes the full text of each petition that the Committee transcribed. Integrated fully with U.K. Parliamentary Papers, this collection shows how “the people” during the 19th C influenced Parliament on political, ecclesiastical, colonial, taxation, and many other topics relevant to the study of Britain and the British Empire within a range of different disciplines within the historical and social studies.

Petitioning was by far the most popular form of political participation, but it has long been overlooked by historians and social scientists preoccupied with elections and election rituals, campaigns to extend the right to vote, and the rise of national political parties.  Utility of public petitions can be used to study the groundswell of public pressure for the expansion of the voting franchise and also to see  the views and priorities of both the populace and Parliament. How Parliament addresses the petition, or doesn’t address it, is a stark indicator of political and social priorities.

Containing petitions on ecclesiastical issues, crime and criminals, colonies, taxation, education, and on every other issue of interest to the populace of Britain, this project appeals to all social, cultural, and religious scholars of Britain. From religious scholars interested on Methodism and the Church of England, scientists concerned with pollution and pollution controls during the Industrial Revolution, and sociologists concerned with how these issues were influenced by and influenced the People, the popular constitutionalism inherent in this collection (as opposed to the “top down” approach to looking at history), is at the cutting edge of historical research today and has wide appeal across campus.” From ProQuest LibGuide UK Parliamentary Papers (https://proquest.libguides.com/parliamentary/petitions, accessed 21/1/2019).

As petitions are public responses to laws and contribute to the debate and formulation thereof, they add fantastic context to parliamentary proceedings. For instance, the current great flurry of petitions relating to Brexit are testament to the strength of feeling experienced amongst the British population in the country. Having access to historic petitions in the same database as historic parliamentary papers and debates (Hansard) will make it easier for historians to understand the national debate. You will also learn of individuals who were politically active locally and, for a brief period in the petition, also nationally. To find out more about individuals, you could search the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ODNB Oxford subscribers only) or, if they are not important enough to get into the ODNB, try the British Biographical Archive which is in World Biographical Information System WBIS (Oxford subscribers only).

You can search for historic public petitions in a variety of ways, including keyword searching and limiting, by the use of filters, to particular characteristics of the petitioner (e.g. names signatories, lobbying organizations, MP sponsoring petition, etc.):

Searching for “children” in Petition titles. From ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers, Public Petitions 1830-1918.

Please note that in the vast majority of cases you will only see a summary report of petitions compiled by the Select Committee on Public Petitions. Only 400 petitions in UKPP have the full-text of the original petition, added as an appendix to the Select Committee’s reports. If you wish, you are able to limit your search to find only the full-text appendices.

Searching for Petitions to repeal the Corn Laws with Appendix Full-Text. From ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers, Public Petitions 1830-1918.

Merchants, Manufacturers, and other Inhabitants of the township of Gomersal, in the county of York; Corn Laws – For Repeal; Petition no 96. January 27, 1840. Parliament: 1837-41. Second Report of the Select Committee. From ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers, Public Petitions 1830-1918.

Find out more:

Trial until 10 July 2017: Public Information Online (PIO)

Oxford Historians are invited to trial Public Information Online (PIO). This is a web-based archive of Parliamentary and Official documents for the 20th century.

Collections include:

  • House of Commons and Lords papers from 1997-,unique access to House of Lords twentieth century historical collection.
  • The historical collection of Standing Committee debates are now in the process of being loaded to the website and are available from 1964/65.
  • The database also has a growing collection of government publications to include: the Army, Navy and Airforce Lists, 1969- and the ‘Civil Service Yearbook’, 1974-.
  • Any researcher in this area will know how invaluable the HMSO annual catalogues are, they are now available from 1922-1995.
  • PIO also consolidates and formats information and data from government sources to provide easy to use, coherent documents, for example, the ‘Annual Abstract of Statistics’.
  • PIO also contains parliamentary and non-parliamentary publications from the UK’s devolved assemblies and parliaments.
  • The database has excellent search facilities, to include browsing by parliamentary session and publishing body.

Publications are loaded daily so the collection is up to date. If you are presented with a Login page, just select PublicInformationOnline in the top left to proceed to the home page.

This trial has been set up by the Law Library, but please send feedback to isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Newly bookmarked: Drucksachen und Plenarprotokolle des Bundestages (1949-2005) [German parliamentary papers and debates]

20th century European historians might be interested to know of a newly released major free resource:

Deutscher Bundestag

Drucksachen und Plenarprotokolle des Bundestages – 1949 bis 2005 (Wahlperiode 1-15) is now available online and provides full-text access to German post-45 parliamentary papers and debates of the lower house (Bundestag).

Papers covering 2005- current (Wahlperiode 16 und 17)  are accessible via DIP (Dokumentations- und Informationssystem für Parlamentarische Vorgänge) and includes papers of both houses (Bundestag and Bundesrat).

These government papers are useful for both internal and foreign affairs but also post-Holocaust discussions, economic and social history, and information about and views from individual members of parliament (Bundestagsabgeordnete).

Documents are displayed in PDF format and can large, i.e. slow to load. Searching is not terrifically sophisticated, but it does search full-text and offers limiting afterwards. The PDFs can be searched full-text as well. It helps to have a document reference number. You can do more sophisticated searches for 2002-current in DIP.

The websites are now bookmarked on the HFL Delicious website.

Find your way through House of Commons Parliamentary Papers – 20 June, 15:30

Modern historians: Find your way through House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

Monday 20 June (week 8), 15:30-16:45 – BOOK HERE

This session will demonstrate the online House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database. The resource includes 200,000+ sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with some supplementary material going back to 1688. This training aims to show how to make best use of complex material. Hands-on will be provided. 

Presenter: Rebecca Price (ProQuest)

IT Room, History Faculty, George Street

New: Colonial State Papers

Thanks to a generous donation in support of the VHL, we have been able to purchase this database. It is available to Oxford users via OxLIP+.

Colonial State Papers provides access to tho usands of papers concerning English activities in the American, Canadian, and West Indian colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Also included is a digitised version of The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739, which contains bibliographic records and extracts for thousands of additional documents. Specifically, CSP contains the TNA’s CO1 Collection (Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers) which provides access to thousands of papers that were presented to the Privy Council and the Board of Trade between 1574-1757, and which relate to England’s governance of, and activities in, the American, Canadian and West Indian colonies.

New: Confidential Print North America 1824-1961

Thanks to a generous donation in support of the VHL, we have been able to purchase this database. It is available to Oxford users via OxLIP+.

This resource gives full-text access to a selection of TNA Colonial Office and Foreign Office papers, reports, dispatches, weekly summaries, etc. The collection covers a broad sweep of history from 1824-1961, taking in the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. There are also some items that cover South America. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to Heads of British missions abroad.

CO 880/1-32 spans the years 1839-1914 and is primarily focused on Canada. It includes topics such as the birth of the railways, fisheries, border disputes, the Hudson’s Bay Company, clergy reserves, trade, Treaty of Washington, Native Americans, shipping.

CO 884/1-38 covers the years 1826-1961 and focuses on the Caribbean. Topics such as slavery and apprenticeship, trade, economy, agriculture, boundary disputes, the Morant Bay rebellion, troops, military expenditure, indentured labour, health and disease, finance, and communication are all covered.

FO 414/1-278 covers a vast array of subjects from the years 1824-1941 including: Prohibition, Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between US and Germany, Conference on Electrical communications, Canadian claim to territories, Liquor smuggling, Reports on the Ku Klux Klan and its declining membership and influence, The League of Nations, World War II, etc.

FO 461/1-13 – covers both North and South America over the time period 1942-1956, and includes the text of President Roosevelt’s broadcast address regarding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the entrance of the USA into the war, USA and WWII, Anglo-US co-operation in WWII, Nazi activities in Chile, Columbia and WWII, Financial situation in Venezuela

FO 462/1-10 covers the U.S.A. from 1947 to 1956. Topics covered include the aftermath of World War II, the rise of Communism, McCarthyism, The atomic bomb, Strikes, US policy towards China, Racial desegregation in the US, the hydrogen bomb, “Atoms for peace” conference, Ireland, etc.