State Papers Online
State Papers Online is a comprehensive collection of primary source British documents. Four modules covering 1509 to 1714, the period of the Tudor and Stuart monarchies, have already been completed; a new collection for the 18th century (covering 1714 to 1782) will be released in three modules, beginning in summer 2013. This wealth of digitized documents includes manuscript correspondence, reports, Parliamentary drafts, and depositions on domestic and foreign affairs.
This review is in progress. CRL is working to gather more information and critical assessment. We encourage our community to submit comments on their experiences with the database.
This resource is currently offered to CRL libraries at favorable terms. Representatives at each library have been sent login access to view purchase or subscription offers.
Sources for this review include information publicly posted or obtained directly from the publisher, data collected by CRL staff and members, and examination of the digital collection when possible. Other sources are noted where cited.
State Papers Online is a comprehensive collection of primary source British documents. Four modules covering 1509 to 1714, the period of the Tudor and Stuart monarchies, have already been completed; a new collection for the 18th century (covering 1714 to 1782) is being released in three modules, beginning in summer 2012. This wealth of digitized documents includes manuscript correspondence, reports, Parliamentary drafts, and depositions on domestic and foreign affairs.
The bulk of the source documents, which were accumulated under the auspices of the State Papers office, are housed in the National Archives, the former Public Records Office. These have been integrated with State Papers now in the British Library and other sources. Gale describes State Papers Online as “re-uniting State Papers Domestic, Foreign, Borders, Scotland, and Ireland with Registers of the Privy Council in the National Archives, Kew and other State Papers now housed in the Cotton, Harley and Lansdowne collections in the British Library.” Documents on domestic affairs can now be studied along with documents that had been classed as “foreign affairs.”
The Tudors and Stuarts
This collection integrates around three million pages of original documents from more than 5,900 volumes and boxes of manuscripts, allowing researchers for the first time to consult material previously fragmented in various locations. In addition, more than 730,000 calendar entries (abstracts) indexing the primary source documents, which were originally published for each of the individual collection series, are now integrated in a text-searchable database, and linked to page images of the corresponding documents. The publisher indicates that some manuscripts have been included that are not calendared, particularly for the foreign affairs documents from part four (1603–1714).
The four cross-indexed parts of the database are also available separately:
Part 1: The Tudors: Domestic, 1509–1603
Part 2: The Tudors: Foreign, 1509–1603
Part 3: The Stuarts: Domestic, 1603–1714
Part 4: The Stuarts: Foreign, 1603–1714
The Eighteenth Century, 1714–1782
This collection will cover the reigns of kings George I, George II, and George III. The content extends through the end of the State Papers (SP) archival classification, when the Home Office (HO) and Foreign Office (FO) were established. Later archival content will appear in Gale’s Nineteenth Century Online (NCCO).
The first of three sections will be released in June 2013. Each part will average around 450,000 pages:
Part 1: State Papers Domestic, plus Military, Naval, Plantation Registers, Sheriffs Lists and State Papers Scotland and Ireland. (includes SP35-38, 41-46, 48, 54-57, 63, and 67. Also include Privy Council papers PC 1-6 and 13)
Parts 2 and 3: Foreign material covering relations with Europe and Russia.
Microfilm, print, and alternative digital sources
The series of State Papers Domestic and some of the State Papers Foreign for the period up through 1714 have been microfilmed by the National Archives and distributed by Cengage Learning under one of its former imprints, Harvester Press. For the 18th-century material, the following series are available in microfilm: SP 35-37 and 43. CRL has very full holdings of the microfilm sets. The original documents, not the microfilm, provided the source for color scans of the 18th-century material.
Some of the published calendar abstract volumes have been digitized as part of the Google Books project, and most appear to be included in the Internet Archive digitized texts. Select individual documents have been transcribed and are searchable in the British National Archives interface, with PDFs available on request. No other comprehensive online source exists for these primary source documents.
The Tudor/Stuart collections contain 730,184 Calendar entries (abstracts), although some describe documents only at the manuscript volume level. Additionally, metadata from the National Archives and the Irish Manuscript Commission (for the 16th-century Ireland series) has been integrated to aid access to manuscripts not previously calendared. Some of the added metadata is at item level and some at volume level; altogether it covers 47 percent of the total manuscript volumes included. For the 18th-century collections, most of the metadata is from the National Archives online catalogue, although some Calendars are included as well.
Technical platform and interface
In addition to searching the full text of calendar entry descriptions, researchers can browse calendar entries and manuscript volumes arranged according to their original series orientation. Interface functions include zooming on document page images and note-taking using an integrated notepad.
Strengths and weaknesses
The combined collections that comprise the database provide an unprecedented opportunity to view facsimiles of the key primary source documents for British history during an extensive period between 1509 and 1782. A particular strength is the integration of documents from various collections, with access provided by text-searchable calendar abstracts and metadata for uncalendared manuscripts. The great majority of the foreign affairs documents from the 17th and 18th centuries had not previously had any indexing access. It is helpful that particular portions of the collection can be purchased separately. It would be even more valuable if more of the documents could be transcribed, or if links could be provided to any transcribed documents available in open access sources.
Timetable for release
The Tudor and Stuart modules were released between 2008 and 2011. The four modules were available for purchase separately or together.
The three modules of the 18th-century collection are scheduled to be released between 2013 and 2015.
Pricing is based on institution FTE.
Direct from Publisher
|Subjects covered||British history, European history, law, international affairs, religious history, literary history, American colonial history|
|Geographic coverage||Europe, North America|
|Content types||Government documents, correspondence, private papers, drafts of proposals, and archival calendar entries|
|Source formats||Microfilm; also hard copy published calendar entries|
|P||Total titles||Over one million documents in the Tudor/Stuart modules|
|P||Total pages||c. three million pages in the Tudor/Stuart modules; c. 450,000 pp. in each of three eighteenth-century modules|
|P||Digital collection launch date||2008 for Tudor/Stuart; 2013 for eighteenth century|
|Update frequency||Yearly until completion|
|Completion date||2011 for Tudor/Stuart; 2015 for eighteenth century|
|P||Major languages||English, Latin, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Spanish|
|Browser compatibility||Safari 4.X, 5.X; Firefox 3.X; IE 6.0, IE 7.0, IE 8.0; Opera 10; Chrome 4.X, 5X, 6X|
|P||Authentication options||Institution username and password; referring URL; remote patron authentication system; Athens; SHIBBOLETH.|
|P||Archiving solution – master files||Master files are archived by the National Archives as well as other source libraries.|
|P||Archiving solution – derivative files||Derivative page image files are archived by Cengage Learning in redundant storage locations. Purchasers also receive copies of the JPEG and xml files on a USB drive.|
|P||Availability in web discovery tools||N|
|P||Open URL target||Y|
|P||Federated searching, z39.50||N|
|P||Local host option||N|
|P||Full text displayed||N (except for the calendar entries)|
|P||Color images||Y (83% of the document page images)|
|P||Search full text||only for calendar abstracts and other metadata|
|P||Search within results||Y|
|P||Limit results by dates and/or document types||Y|
|P||Display highlighted search terms||Y|
|P||Display snippet -- search term in context||Y (first lines of calendar entries)|
|P||Download HTML||Y (for calendar entries)|
|P||Print full document||Y (up to 8 pages of a manuscript document at a time)|
|P||Annotation tools||Y (Notepad tool is available; notes must be exported - not saved in the database)|
|P||Cross-product searching||Y (only within the four related collections)|
|P||Restrictions on use||Education use only|
|Publisher / Distributor||Gale Cengage Learning|
|Address||Gale 27500 Drake Road Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535|
|Contact||http://gale.cengage.co.uk/state-papers-online-15091714.aspx ; http://gdc.gale.com/|
|Related product(s)||Making of the Modern World|
|CRL Profile of Publisher||NA|
|P||Multiple year payments option||N|
|P||Hosting charges||Y (Annual hosting fees)|
|List of purchasers available||Y|
|Sample license available|
|P||MARC records purchase fee||Y|
|Price tier basis|