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Parliamentary Papers at MU: The Journals

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The Journals


The Journals present the official account of the proceedings of Parliament, including the records of motions passed, suspended, amended or withdrawn; the record of papers laid before each House; and lists of members appointed to committees, etc. For some years, main arguments of speeches given in Parliament are included. Journals are especially useful for the period prior to the 19th century when there were no official records of debates. The first Journal, known as the Seymour Journal, was written in 1547. 

Types of Journals:

There are two journals:  House of Commons Journal and House of Lords Journal.

House of Common Journal:

  1. The Journals are only published once per session, per year.  Therefore, they are not as substantial as the Hansard.
  2. Earlier years included summaries of selected debates (pre-Hansard).
  3. Journals of the 18th Century included the text of many Parliamentary Papers.
  4. Until 1742, the Journals only existed in manuscript form.  However, the House determined that they needed to go back and publish everything from 1547 onwards.  This process would take until 1836.
  5. The publication of each journal occurs a year after the session it covers closes.
  6. Since 1880, a General Index has been published every ten years.
  7. Printed daily during sessions is the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons.

House of Lords Journals:

  1. One volume is published per session, per year.
  2. Dates to 1510.
  3. Less detailed than the Minutes and Proceedings of the House of Lords which is a daily publication when in session.
  4. A General Index is issued every ten years.

Both Journals are publications issued by the H.M.S.O, which is the only publisher with the authority to publish government material.

Locating the Journals:

Ellis Library does not carry the entire Journals series

  1. Ellis has:
    1. The House of Commons Journal Volumes covering 1690-1715
      1. Call Number:  JN673 .H6842 2002.  5 volumes and one CD-ROM.  Located in 2 East.
    2. The House of Commons Journal covering 1547-1823
      1. Call Number:  J301.P3 C5.  77 volumes.  Located in Ellis Large Print Room 202.
    3. The House of Lords Journal covering 1509-1726
      1. Call Number: J301 .J3.  22 volumes.  Located in Ellis Large Print Room 202.
  2. Washington University holds the House of Commons Journals Volumes 447-256 (1990-2000)
    1. Presently, one must go to Washington University to use these copies.