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British Parliamentary Papers: Sessional Papers

Standard Citation

Each volume has a number within its sessional series and is referred to by year/session and volume number (in Roman numerals), e.g., 1856 LII. Individual papers within the volume are given sessional numbers, a running series for each session, e.g., 1818 (57) III. 99—representing the session date, the paper number (in parentheses), and the volume and page number of the sessional collection.

Command Papers have their own unique numbered series:

  • First series, 1833-1868/69: unprefixed numbers [1] - [4222] (not printed on the paper)
  • Second series, 1870-1899: [C.1] - [C.9550]
  • Third series, 1900-1918: [Cd.1] - [Cd.9239]
  • Fourth series, 1919-1955/56: [Cmd.1] - Cmd.9889
  • Fifth series, 1956/57-Nov. 7, 1986: Cmnd.1 - Cmnd.9927
  • Sixth series, 1986 to date: Cm 1 -

Sessional Papers

Sessional Papers are traditionally classified into three main divisions: bills (public and private); reports (of Commissioners and Committees); and accounts and papers. Command Papers, printed by order of the House of Commons, are often considered a separate category.

Some early papers were not printed separately but were included in the Journal.  (See section in this guide entitled Reports of Debates.)

Online indexing and abstracting of many Sessional Papers is available through the BOPCRIS [http://www.bopcris.ac.uk/] Web site.

These are useful print indexes:

Cockton, Peter. Subject Catalogue of the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1801-1900, 5 vols. Cambridge, Eng.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1988.
LOCATION:  Reference  DA530 .C64 1988

Ford, P. and Ford, G. Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1833-1899. Oxford, Eng.: Basil Blackwell, 1953.
LOCATION:  J301 .M3 1953

Ford, P., Ford, G., and Marshallsay, Diana. Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1955-1964. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1970.
LOCATION:  Reference J301 .M3 1970

General Index to the Bills, Reports and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons and to the Reports and Papers Presented by Command, 1900 to 1948-49. London: H.M.S.O., 1960.
LOCATION:  Reference Z2009 .G74

General Index to the Reports [etc.] Printed by Order of the House of Commons 1801-1899. Reprint ed. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1978.
LOCATION:  Reference Z2009 .I73 v.2-8

Hansard’s Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834. Oxford, Eng.: Basil Blackwell, 1953.
LOCATION: Library Annex - Folio J301 .K62 1953

Hansard’s Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834. Shannon, Irish University Press, 1978.
LOCATION:  Reference Z2009 .I73 v.1

House of Commons

House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, 1715-1800.
LOCATION: Library Annex - J301 .K6

Facsimile ed., in 147 vols., edited by Sheila Lambert. For an overview and index, see her Introduction and List, 1715-1760; and List, 1761-1800. These comprise the first two vols. of the set itself (J301 .K6 v.1-2). See also her earlier List of House of Commons Sessional Papers, 1701-1750 (London: List and Index Society, 1968) (CD1042 .A2L56 v.1) and either edition of Hansard’s Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834 (Library Annex - Folio J301 .K62 1953 and Ref Z2009 .I73 v.1).

Parliamentary Papers [19th Century Parliamentary Papers]

Comprehensive collection which includes all of the papers issued by the House of Commons between 1801-1900 in all formats. All of the papers are full-text searchable with hit-term highlighting, and accompanied by the bibliographic data and subject indexing from Peter Cockton’s Subject Catalogue to the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1801-1900 (Ref DA530 .C64 1988).

Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers, 1801-1899.
LOCATION: individually cataloged, all shelved in the Library Annex

A 1000-volume series of the most important 19th century Sessional Papers. Indexed by: Checklist of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000-Volume Series 1801-1899 (Shannon: Irish University, Press, 1972) (Ref Z2009 .I72). The table of contents of the Checklist is annotated with the call numbers of the individual volumes of the series.

For the 20th century, Percy Ford, A Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 3 vols., covering 1900-1954 (Ref JN549 .F6 1951) gives substantial summaries of selected papers.

House of Lords

Sessional Papers, 60 vols., 1744-1805 (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1972-76).
LOCATION: Library Annex - Folio J301 .J62

Reprint edition. Indexed by Hansard’s Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834 (Folio J301 .K62 1953 and Ref Z2009 .I73 v.1); the last vols. by General Index, 1801-1884/5, 4 vols., accompanying the set (Library Annex - Folio J301 .J62).

Subject Guide

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Carol Rudisell
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