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ProQuest has partnered with the National Library of Scotland to create the very first digitised collection of 19th Century House of Lords Parliamentary Papers, providing online access to previously unseen and valuable historical documents.

Launching in November 2015, this unique project will allow those who are not able to access the documents in their physical form to broaden their research into this essential 19th century government documents resource. Enhancing the growing corpus of historical papers that ProQuest have digitized -- including the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers -- this new collection will improve research outcomes for scholars of British History, British Government, Political Science, History and more.

As the working documents of government, the House of Lords Parliamentary Papers encompass wide areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, providing evidence of committees and commissions during a time when the Lords in the United Kingdom wielded considerable power. Most importantly from a legislative perspective, this collection will include many bills which originated and were subsequently rejected by the Lords – rich indicators of the direction and interests of the Lords that have been largely lost to researchers.

There are very few surviving copies of this important historical collection because of the way the documents were originally printed and stored. The National Library of Scotland has one of the most comprehensive sets in existence as part of its world-class collections and is delighted to be working closely with the House of Lords Library to deliver this project. 

ProQuest’s commitment to digital scholarship is ever more evident with this brand new digitised content, which has similar indexing and editorial controls to ProQuest’s House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, enabling it to be fully cross-searchable with the new House of Lords Parliamentary Papers (1800-1910). This new content will bring together a complete picture of the workings and influence of the Parliament of the United Kingdom during their pivotal role in 19th Century history.

Dr John Scally, Scotland’s National Librarian, said: “More British Prime Ministers served in the Lords in the 19th century than in the House of Commons, despite the progressive dwindling of the influence of the upper chamber. This is a fascinating period in our history and digitization will make these important papers available on any screen anytime, anywhere.  This partnership with ProQuest is part of our commitment to open up our collections to as many people as possible.”

Further, the final version of a bill passing from Commons to the Lords will also be included in the newly digitized papers. The collection will shed new light on edits and revisions taken by the Lords on these key bills in their last stages of the legislative process and will provide a full study and understanding of this activity. The House of Lords Parliamentary Papers will fill in the gap in how legislation was authored, amended, and passed. Revealing previously unknown material such as statistical data, oral evidence, and letters and business papers relating not only to Britain but also to the many parts of the world that were under British influence during that time, this is a highly valuable resource.

The House of Lords content will be a part of ProQuest’s comprehensive government program, which includes databases such as U.S. Congressional materials and Executive Branch Documents from 1789, Documents on British Policy Overseas (DBPO) and Digital National Security Archive (DNSA).

Susan Bokern, vice president product management at ProQuest said, “The research value of the House of Lords Parliamentary Papers is of international significance. As an addition to ProQuest’s comprehensive and diverse collection of government databases, researchers are even more empowered to analyse global perspectives of key political outcomes of the 19th century and beyond.”   

14 May 2015

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