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Parliamentary Papers at MU: Hansard Debates

Tips, techniques & links to help you find answers for your research papers & projects

Hansard Debates

Overview:

The Debates have been the official records of things said in Parliament. They are substantially verbatim and in the first person. Debates are often referred to as Hansard after the name of the printing firm which compiled and published them for the greater part of the 19th century. From 1803-1909 some speeches were given in full, the rest being abbreviated accounts.

Important facts to know:

  • Members when addressing the House do not have party labels attached.
    • Ministers are identified by their post, not their names.
    • Members of House of Commons are identified by their constituency, not their names.
    • Members of the House of Lords are identified by their title, not heir names.
  • In all of these cases, to find a party affiliation or personal name, one must refer to a different work or website.
    • For a current list of Members Parliament (MPs), click here.
    • For a list of 19th Century ministers, click here.
  • Debates are indexed under each the speaker, subject of the speech, and subjects covered by written answers.
  • The indexes refer to column number, not page number.
    • Written answers have their own column numbers, which are printed in italics.
  • Indexes are printed to correspond to the volumes representing one session.
  • Initially, each volume was indexed, later separate index volumes were printed per session.
  • Until 1908, the debates of the Commons and the Lords were published together.  In 1909, each received its own series.
    Once the Lords received their own series, a general index volume was published once per session.

Locating the Hansard:

There are multiple series of the debates.  Below are the divisions:

Years Series

Total Volumes

Volumes in Ellis Library

Format Location Call Number
1803-20 1st Series 41 volumes 1-41 Book 2 East J301.K22
1820-30 2nd Series 25 volumes 1-25 Book 2 East J301.K22
1830-91 3rd Series 356 volumes 1-356 Book 2 East J301.K22
1892-1908 4th Series 199 volumes** 1-199 Book 2 East J301.K22
1909-1981

5th Series--Commons

1000 volumes 1-111 plus index volumes; Volumes 112-1000 are at the UM Libraries Depository (UMLD) Book 2 East, UMLD J301.K22
1909-present 5th Series--Lords 599+ volumes, Internet Access

1-32 and volumes with indexes; 33-103 and 130-448 excluding indexed volumes are at the UM Libraries Depository (UMLD), Mirocards for  June 17, 1987-May 22, 2008 in MU Ellis Special Collections (MICF 4827)

Book 2 East, Online J301.J22
1981-present 6th Series--Commons 142 volumes, Internet Access 1-116 excluding indexes are at the UM Libraries Depository (UMLD), all index volumes at Ellis Library; Microcards* for June/July 1987-October 1, 2007 in MU Ellis Special Collections (MICF 4826) Book 2 East, Online J301.K22

Indexes and microcards do not circulate!

Online Hansard Access:

Digitized copies of all debates from 1803 through 2004 can be found at the Hansard Archive as downloadable zip files.

Pre-Hansard Debates:

These are debates that occurred prior to the Hansard's existence and have records in MU Libraries Holdings.  They were not comprehensively published at the time, but often collected, edited, and published at later points.

  1. A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, from the Year 1668 to the Present Time.
    1. Call Number: 328.42 G77d2.  Covers 1668-1741. 21 volumes.  UM Libraries Depository (UMLD) or select volumes in Law Library Rare Book Room.
  2. Parliamentary Debates in 1610.  Edited by Samuel Rawson Gardiner.
    1. Call Number: 942 C14 81.  One volume.  UM Libraries Depository (UMLD).
  3. Commons Debates, 1621Edited by Wallace Notestein, et al.
    1. Call Number:  328.42 N844c.  Seven volumes.  Ellis Library 3 West.
  4. Debates in the House of Commons in 1625
    1. Call Number: 942 C14 n.s. V6.  1 volume (6/6).  UM Libraries Depository (UMLD).
  5. Commons Debates, 1628.  Editor:  Robert C. Johnson, et al. 
    1. Call Number: J301.K16.  Four volumes. Ellis Library 2 East.
  6. Commons Debates for 1629. Edited by Wallace Notestein and Frances Helen Relf.
    1. Call Number: H31.M65 10.  1 edited volume.  Request from UM Libraries Depository (UMLD).
  7. Debates of the House of Commons:  From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694
    1. Call Number: JN673.G7 1763.  Ten volumes.  MU Ellis Special Collections Rare*
  8. The Parliamentary Register, or History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons [and House of Lords]:  Containing an Account of the Most Interesting Speeches and Motions..During the...Session of the..Parliament of Great Britain. 
    1. Call Number:  J301.H218. Covers 1774-1801 in multiple volumes.  MU Ellis Special Collections Rare.*
  9. Other debate pamphlets can be found two ways:
    1. Search in ECCO or EEBO
      1. Some scattered individually published debates can be found in these databases.
      2. For search instructions, click here.
    2. Debates and "House of Commons" in MERLIN's Advanced Search.
    3. Most will be located in MU Ellis Special Collections.*
    4. To limit to just those, under "Specific Library Location" select MU Ellis Special Collections.

Online Indexes:

  1. House of Commons Hansard Online Index
    1. Starts with 1999.
  2. House of Lords Debates Online Index
    1. Starts with 2000.

Key:

*  Does not circulate!

**Authorized editions, but not published by the H.M.S.O.