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British/UK Parliamentary Papers Research Guide

Parliementary Proceedings

Parliamentary "proceedings" refer to the record of Parliamentary action rather than the record of Parliamentary debate. Parliamentary proceedings have been recorded in the following:

Rotuli Parliamentorum; ut et Petitiones et placita in Parliamento 6 volumes and index (1771-1783)

GOVUKFOLIO Folio J301 .H12 (Vol. 1 in Special Collections, remaining in Gov-UK Folio). There is also a full-text searchable online version available through Eighteenth Century Collections Online.

Rolls of Parliament, to Supply the Deficiencies in the Journals of the House of Lords (1771)

GOVUKFOLIO UK Folio J301 .H13 (Gov-UK Folio)

The Rotuli Parliamentorum are the extant records of Parliament from 1278-1503. The basic six-volume set (the supplementary volume was issued in 1771) contains most of the available manuscript rolls of the early Parliaments as well as some of the petitions to Parliament that have been preserved at the Public Record Office. The index was published in 1832.

Journals of the House of Commons (1547 to present; except for 1584-1601)

Emory has:

(Online) House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (Journals from 1688 to 1834)
(Online) British History Online, volumes 1-12 (covering the years 1547 to 1699) and volume 85 (1830).
GOVUKFOLIO J301 .K3 (1547-1772) (Gov-UK Folio)
MICPRINT 11 (1774-1780) (Microforms)

GOVUKFOLIO J301 .K3 (1780-1795) (Gov-UK Folio)
MICPRINT 11 (1795-1900) (Microforms)
GOVUKFOLIO J301 .K3 (1958 to present) (Gov-UK Folio)

The Journals are the permanent, official record of Parliament. They are an authority for procedure within the House of Commons and provide a rich source of historical information, much of which is unavailable elsewhere. Each volume of the Journals contains its own index, and a series of General Indexes cover several sessions. Because of the many idiosyncrasies of indexing, changes in content, and unusual seventeenth-century narrative style (only somewhat modified in 1969), researchers may wish to consult David Menhennet's The Journal of the House of Commons: A Bibliographic and Historical Guide, 1971 (JN673 .M45). Menhennet is also useful for identifying non-official accounts of Parliamentary activity for the period 1584-1601 when the Journals are missing.


House of Commons Sessional Papers

The British House of Commons Sessional Papers form one of the richest collections of government publications in existence. Consisting of Bills, Reports of Committees and Commissions, and Accounts and Papers, the Sessional Papers cover a wide range of political, historical and economic information important not only to students of British history but also, because of Britain's role in world affairs, to students of world history as well.

Included in the Sessional Papers are the so-called Command Papers, papers non-Parliamentary in origin but presented to Parliament "By Command" of His/Her Majesty. Usually such documents deal with issues likely to be the subject of legislation. Often they will include government "White" or position papers and significant Royal Commission reports. Also found in the Command Papers is the British Treaty Series containing the text of treaties, agreements and notes exchanged between Britain and various foreign powers.

Although the Library possesses a small number of duplicate Command Papers in paper and microfilm and some reprints (all listed in discoverE), the bulk of Emory's collection of House of Commons Sessional Papers is in microformat.

See Indexes & Catalogs for indexes to the Sessional Papers.

British Parliamentary Papers. House of Commons Sessional Papers

MICFICHE 684 (1731-1960)(Microforms)

MICPRINT 8 (1956/57-1978/79) (Microforms)

MICFICHE 684 (1979 to present) (Mircoforms)

This is the library's most complete collection of Sessional Papers, containing all the bills, reports, accounts, and various papers.

House of Commons Home Page

Offers links to many sources providing full text of publications of both House of Parliament.

Another source of Sessional Papers is in the Irish University Press series of reprints. These reproduce selected documents on various topics:

Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers. Anthropology: Aborigines 3 volumes (1968-69)

GN4 .I74 (Storage)

Reproduces selected documents from the Sessions of 1834, 1836, and 1837.

Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers. Colonies: Africa 70 volumes (1968-71)

JQ1881 .A2I73 1968 (Stacks-Oversize)

These volumes cover the period 1801-1899.

Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers. Colonies: General (1968-1971)

GOVUKFOLIO JV33 .G7 I7 (Gov-UK Folio)

The library has only volumes 11-19, 21-28, 30-31, 33-37 covering 1864-1899.

Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers. Slave Trade 95 volumes (1968-1971)

HT1161 .I73 (Stacks-Oversize)

This set covers the period 1810-1899.

The Sessional Papers have been issued annually as a separate series by the House of Commons since the nineteenth century. Commons Papers issued in the eighteenth century and earlier are also available. Prior to 1801, many of the Papers were printed in the Journals of the House of Commons. In addition, there exist three official collections of eighteenth-century Commons Papers:

Reports from Committees of the Houses of Commons , which have been printed by Order of the House, and are not inserted in the journals. 16 volumes (1803-1806)

Also available online through Making of the Modern World.

GOVUK J301 .K55 (Gov-UK)


Often referred to as the "First Series," this collection covers the period 1715-1803 and contains reports not found in the Journals of the House of Commons as well as many which are not contained in other eighteenth-century Sessional Paper collections. The set has its own index which was later expanded, with some loss of detail, into Hansard's Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834.

House of Commons Sessional Papers


The first part of the microfiche edition of the Sessional Papers is commonly referred to as the Abbot Collection or the "Second Series." It covers the period 1731 to 1800. The Second Series is distinguished from later Sessional Papers by the letter "A" on the fiche and is set off by divider cards. The collection is accompanied by a guide.

House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century 147 volumes (1975)

GOVUK J301 .K625 (Gov-UK)

This, the most recent and by far the most comprehensive collection of eighteenth-century Sessional Papers, covers the period 1715 to 1800. The subject index in List (Index) Volume 2 indicates the year of a document and its number within a year. Other Lists will locate a document within this collection as well as in Abbott or the First Series.

Sessional Papers of both Houses of Parliament for the period 1531-1714 are listed and often fully transcribed in the various calendars of manuscripts of the House of Lords published by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. A briefly annotated list of these calendars is found in the abovementioned The Records of Parliament: A Guide for Genealogists and Local Historians. For the period 1509-June, 1715, Sessional Papers can also be found in the following collection:

Main Papers of the House of Lords 9 parts on 174 reels


This set contains the working records of the House of Lords for the period 1509-1715. In some cases this set acts as the only record of parliamentary activity since a huge range of Parliamentary records was lost to fire in 1834. Most of these documents are listed in various calendars of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. (The Calendars are located at Government UK DA25 .M1. The collection is accompanied by a guide: