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Michigan State University

British Victorian Period Research: British Government Documents

This is a guide to doing research on topics about 19th-century Britain and Ireland, meant to be be useful to students in English literature and in history. Last updated 06-01-2023

British Government Documents

Finding British Parliamentary Papers in the M.S.U. Libraries, 2007 edition (Beginners) describes documents available in the M.S.U. Libraries in paper, micro, and electronic formats, and provides directions for their location and use. It is primarily useful for research using 18th through 21st century documents. During the rise and zenith of the Empire the British government was often a progressive model for the entire world in its investigations of the economic and social problems associated with modernization. Those wishing to research topics such as the impact of industrialization, progressive enfranchisement of the middle classes, the history of industrial regulation, and growth of the governmental machinery of the welfare state have a wealth of primary source material here. Too, there is a great deal of information to be found in the Parliamentary papers about the world wars, colonial issues, exploration, trade, products, and peoples of the British Colonies.

An older research guide contains more printed sources on the use of the Sessional Papers.

Parliament, Inventions and Patents, a Research Guide and Bibliography  Business Library oversize KD 1361 .J64 2018

Author is Phillip Johnson, prof. of commercial law at Cardiff University, Wales.  Goal is to identify all the Parliamentary material relating to patents and supporting inventions up to the beginning of the 1976-77 Session, when the European patent system began.  Deals with the development of patent law, oversight of the work of the Patent Office, and [patent] awards given to individuals, in order for scholars to be able to study more completely the history of technology, invention, and patent law.  8 parts: public legislation (acts and bills), private acts and bills, Old Scottish and Irish Parliaments' Acts relating to inventions, list of statutes and rules passed about parliamentary material, rewards granted by Parliament, the various Parliamentary papers and reports into the patent system, the petitions lodged with Parliament relating to patent law and inventions, questions asked of ministers and mentions of patents and significant mentions of inventions.  Indexed by inventor, company, invention/product, parliamentarian (MP), legislation (by year), cases, and general index. 

Many scholars need some help to get started using this material. Agnes Widder is available by appointment.