UK Parliamentary History Collections

Find out more about UK Parliamentary History Collections in the IHR Wohl Library. Our collections focus on published primary sources, and the main coverage here is the official records of Parliament, and edited versions. We also hold a substantial collection of guides, bibliographies, periodicals and reference works, including biographical material.


The IHR library's collections focus on published primary sources, and the main coverage here is the official records of Parliament, and edited versions. We also hold a substantial collection of guides, bibliographies, periodicals and reference works, including biographical material.

The material is located within the following classmarks in the library. A double letter BB indicates a folio-sized item which are shelved in a separate sequence:

  • B.0 British Bibliographies (especially B.044)
  • B.2 Collective Biography (especially B.232 Parliamentary biography)
  • B.4 British Parliamentary History, including B.401 (Records), B.402 (Secondary works), B.43 Elections and Electoral Reform and B.47 Parliamentary Rights and Procedures
  • B.71 Parliamentary records
  • B.9 Periodicals
  • B.999 Parliamentary Debates

Some of our material is in closed-access, and can be ordered in advance - see further details.

Highlights from the Collections: Sources

Medieval Parliament Rolls

Description: Records of the English parliament, from the manuscript rolls which survive for the period 1275 to 1504.

IHR holdings:

Journals of the House of Lords and House of Commons

Description: Formal record of proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, printed from manuscript originals.

IHR holdings:

Notes: Senate House Library hold later period; some early volumes are available on British History online: Commons and Lords

Parliamentary Debates (including Hansard)

Description: Transcript/record of the parliamentary debates.

IHR holdings:

Editions of Debates and Proceedings relating to specific subjects will also be found in relevant collection (e.g. Proceedings and debates of the British Parliaments respecting North America, 1754-1783).

Votes and Proceedings

Description: Official summary of the proceedings - issued as broadsheets for public circulation.

IHR holdings:

  • Votes of the House of Commons - B.4015/Vot
    1681-1798 (incomplete)

Public Petitions

Description: Formal written request to Parliament from an individual or group of individuals.

IHR holdings:

Divisions Lists

Description: Voting records.

IHR holdings:

Parliamentary Papers

Description: Sessional Papers (Bills, House papers and Command papers), for further detail see UK Parliamentary Papers guide.

IHR holdings: IHR no longer holds individual printed parliamentary papers – the incomplete collection we once had was amalgamated with the Senate House library collection. We have UK Parliamentary Papers online (available onsite or by subscription), printed editions of C18th sessional papers and various subject catalogues/indexes:

Statutes and Acts

Description: Public acts, and some indexes to Local and Private Acts. Acts from 1642-1660 were considered void after the Restoration, and are therefore excluded from the main published editions. They have been compiled into Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum.

IHR holdings:

Public Acts

We have various published editions at classmarks B/BB.4018 dating from C12th – 1960s.

Private and Local Acts
We hold chronological tables and indexes at classmark B.40185. We only hold full text of the Acts themselves in a small number of cases. There are some lists and texts for specific places in the regional history collections. Where they were printed, copies are available at other libraries such as the British Library. Some are available in Senate House Library or via the Making of the Modern World resource. Unpublished acts are only available via the Parliamentary Archives.

See also:

British Library Guide to primary legislation

Poll Books

See related collection guide.

Highlights from the Collections: Secondary works and Guides

Guides and Bibliographies

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

You can also book a tour or training session.

Case Study: Equal Votes for Men and Women

This looks at the subject of equal franchise for women as it appears in different parliamentary sources.

On 20th May 1867, John Stuart Mill proposed an amendment to the Reform Act to "leave out the word "man" in order to insert the word "person" ". During the Debate, the Conservative MP for Colchester, Edward Kent Karslake, opposed the amendment as "not a lady in Essex had asked him to support the proposition in favour of a female franchise, and believing that the women in other parts of England were equally indifferent on the subject, he came to the conclusion that the women of this country would prefer to remain as they were, being content with the happy homes and advantages they now possessed" (Hansard's Parliamentary Debates (3rd series), 20 May 1867 vol 187 c833). The proposal was defeated by 196 votes to 73.
Debate | Division | Journals of the House of Commons

In response to this, a petition was organised in his constituency, and presented to Parliament by Karlsake on 25th July:
Petition and the text of the related petition in the Appendix.

The Act giving women the same voting rights as men wasn't passed for another 60 years.

Parliamentary Franchise (Women) Bill 1910 (access onsite, by subscription only)

Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 18 & 19 Geo. 5 c. 12