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Journals of the House of Commons at Memorial Library

Table of Contents

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What are the Journals of the House of Commons?

The Journals are the daily record for the House of Commons.  They are roughly comparable to the Daily Digest of the Congressional Record.  They contain information on the way the House votes, progress of bills, and the different matters that are taken up.

The House of Commons Journals are considered to be the only guide to precedents in England. Many historians consider the House of Commons Journals to be very important because they are some of the few historical documents that show the growing power of the House of Commons through the years.

Holdings: 1547 - present.

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Where are the Journals at Memorial Library?

The Journals are in the Government Documents Collection, on Stack Level 2M, South Stacks, aisles 6 & 7.

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Are there any House of Commons Journals online?

1546-1699 & 1830

The website British History Online has texts of the House of Commons Journals from 1547-1699 & 1830 online. Once you've clicked a link to an individual volume, you can browse that volume page by page, or search it.

1997 to present

Parliament's official website has the texts of the House of Commons Journals from 1997 to the present online.

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Using the Journals of the House of Commons

The journals are arranged by volume number, with a volume usually containing several sessions. Each volume is organized by date of session, with sessions running from October to March. Each date follows the same order of business:
  • Speeches given.
  • Appendix I -- All papers laid on the table for vote.
  • Appendix II -- Reports from Select Committees.

Content is primarily a descriptive narrative of House proceedings. Some speeches, papers and reports are included in full. If the full text is not included, the Journals will have a reference as to where to find the full text.

Individual indexes are located at the back of each volume. Part I is organized by subject headings. Part II is organized by document type (papers, addresses, amendments, bills, and resolutions). Both parts will refer you to a specific page number.

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Using the indexes to the Journals of the House of Commons

Each index covers an arbitrary set of volumes. The indexes cover and are organized by the following documentation types:

Accounts & Papers Closure Petitions, Public
Addresses Committees Proceedings
Amendments to Questions Debates Provisional Orders
Bills, Private Decisions Public Accounts
Bills, Provisional Order Elections Resolutions
Bills, Public European Community Documents Returns, Sessional
Chairman's Panel Instructions Standing Orders
Church of England Messages Statutory Instruments
Clerk of the Crown Oppositions Ways & Means
Clerk of the House    

Under each main heading is a subject listing. The subject listing is broken down by year. Next to each individual entry is the page number of the specific volume.

Example:

ADDRESSSES
of Congratulations
-- on the Eightieth Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen Mother [1979-1980], 754.

To find the address of congratulations to the Queen Mother on her eightieth birthday, you would find the volume that covers session 1979-80 and look up page 754.

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Where can I go for more help?

If you need assistance, please contact the government documents librarian at (608) 262-9852, or ask the librarians at the Reference Desk, in Room 262.  You can also consult the section on Selected reference works about the Journals, at the end of the guide.

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Citing the Journals

There is no single standard method of citing the Journals; however, the guide Citing British Parliamentary Publications lists some resources with guidelines on citing the Journals.

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Selected reference works about the Journals

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British Parliamentary Publications at Memorial Library | Government Documents at Memorial Library |
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Page created 8/99; last updated 10/14/09.

Created by Terry Kemper; maintained by:

Beth Harper
Government Documents Reference Librarian
276 Memorial Library
728 State St.
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 262-9852