The Library has access to the digitised State Papers Online from 1509 to the end of the State Papers series in 1782, providing a fascinating research resource for early modern Britain and Europe.
What are the State Papers?
They are predominantly official papers of the Secretaries of State from the period, and include correspondence, reports, memoranda and civil service drafts, covering a wide range of domestic and international matters, and emanating from the highest levels of power. The collections include letters from popes, diplomats, and rulers of other countries, as well as records such as military and naval registers, and thus provide a fascinating record of the Tudor, Stuart and early Georgian periods in England and beyond.
It is an major resource for researching themes such as the monarchy, law and order, religious conflict, wars and treaties, international trade and the emergence of party politics.
What’s in this collection?
The digitised collections comprise the papers themselves, digitised from the original manuscripts, as well as the ‘calendars’, which catalogue and briefly describe or summarise the manuscripts, and which have been transcribed into text. The manuscripts themselves are mostly not searchable (except for a few series which have been transcribed). The calendars are searchable, and each calendar entry links to its manuscript, making the research process significantly easier than pre-digitisation.
How to search
You can search or browse the State Papers in various ways. We’d recommend selecting Advanced Search to access all the options for focusing your search. Note useful options such as fuzzy search, which enables you to search for spelling variants, plus the option to limit your search to records with a manuscript, and/or a transcript of the manuscript.
The Browse function may be useful if you wish to work through a particular series of State Papers: you can either browse the calendars or manuscripts.
There are various options for saving, downloading and exporting results.
Help and guidance
If you are using the State Papers for the first time, we’d recommend reading the relevant About State Papers Online section to get an overview of what each collection contains.
You will also find very helpful contextual information in the Research Tools section.
- Reference includes glossaries, explanations of dates, weights and measures etc;
- Links gives links to useful guidance such as paleography courses.
- Essays gives more detailed insights into each collection, written by experts.
- Key documents picks out important highlights from the collections.
- You can also click Help in the top right of the screen for in-depth help with searching and exporting.