British Parliamentary Papers 1800 to 1900
The British Parliamentary Papers (1800-1900), as published by The Irish University Press (hereafter referred to as IUP) was the largest single printing project undertaken by a publishing house at the time of the printing. This massive (approximately 1,000 volumes) reference work is a careful selection of information from over 5,000 volumes of parliamentary investigations (not debates, which are a separate class of records) produced by Westminster. It offers the reader a “case study” development of British history and of modern industrial society. Using its resources, the student of history and the genealogist can reconstruct many crucial events such as an emigrant experience, life in the workhouse, the educational offerings in rural society, children’s employment in mines and mills, laws governing Sunday observance, and many other facets of life in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, East and West Indies, Africa, and Canada.
It is useful to know how the records are grouped in this series. The six groups serve as a general guideline to record sources. They include:
Colonial History covering Australia, Canada, East and West Indies, New Zealand, and emigration.
Education including the fine arts, poorer classes, British museum, public libraries, and science and technology.
Economics, which covers commercial distress, currency, decimal coinage, joint stock banks, savings banks, insurance, national finance, income tax, post and telegraphs, fisheries, trade and industry, and industrial relations.
Industrial Revolution treating the subjects of children’s employment, design, factories, textiles, trade, fuel and power, including mining, inventions, shipping, transportation and communications.
Social History covering agriculture, finance, poor laws, population, marriage and divorce, social problems, stage and theater, religion, newspapers and health.
Government and Law, which includes diplomatic service, elections, municipal corporations, civil disorders, prisons, other crime and punishment, legal administration, and military and navy.
The IUP series also includes indexes to the complete British Parliamentary records (not the IUP extracts). Hansard’s catalogue and breviate of parliamentary papers covers 1696‑1834. Other indexes to reports, accounts, papers, and bills are broken down by time periods (1801‑1852, 1852‑1869, 1870‑1878/9, 1880‑1889, and 1890‑1899). These indexes cover records that were not published in the 1,000 volumes but are part of the actual British Parliamentary Papers.
Another index is the Checklist of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000‑Volume Series, 1801‑1899 (Irish University Press, Shannon, Ireland: 1972). This source includes an introduction to the British Parliamentary Papers including instructions for using the Checklist, a chronological list of references, an alphabetical subject list, and a key work title index.
Because of the expense of obtaining the IUP series of the British Parliamentary Papers, few repositories in the United States and Canada own the collection. Many universities and major libraries either own parts of, or the complete 1,000 volumes. In Utah, both the libraries at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University have the complete IUP series.