Gale Launches Part I of State Papers Online

Gale, a part of Cengage Learning (, announced the release of State Papers Online, designed to be a cornerstone digital resource for all historians and students of early modern Britain and Europe. The equivalent of today’s papers from the Home and Foreign Offices and the Royal Archives, these historic state papers are considered to be the most valuable and reliable records available for understanding every aspect of Tudor and Stuart government and society. The National Archives, London, played a vital role in the creation of State Papers Online, which signifies the online publication of one of its key collections.

By bringing the state papers together online linked to the calendars of the papers themselves, State Papers Online 1509–1714 creates a completely new resource for understanding the 200 years from the time of Cardinal Wolsey to the Age of Enlightenment. When completed, State Papers Online will contain almost 3 million pages of correspondence, reports, memoranda, and parliamentary drafts from civil servants and provincial administrators, and intelligence reports from foreign ambassadors. All papers offer a vivid portrait of the British monarchy, internal strife, and religious conflict, as well as details of daily life and events across every level of society.

Due to be released in four stages, Part I of State Papers Online is now live and covers the complete collection of State Papers Domestic for the Tudor era (1509–1603). Part II is due for release in early 2009 and will include the Tudor State Papers Foreign, Ireland, Scotland, Borders and Registers of the Privy Council as well as state papers in the British Library’s Cotton, Harley and Yelverton Collections. Parts III and IV containing the 17th-century State Papers Domestic, Foreign, Ireland, Registers of the Privy Council as well as those in the Harley Collection will follow in 2010 and 2011. For more information, visit

Source: Gale

I think this is a great resource for researchers, but what about those who don’t have access to Gale products?  This brings up a thorny issue in digital collections about funding.  It would be great to have all digitization efforts be freely accessible, but in the long term that might be not quite so feasible.  One solution is to have private companies like Gale manage solutions, but will we ever know how much access is lost due to their sponsorship?