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.