Final set of Tudor and Stuart state secrets goes online today

Gale publishes the fourth and final part of State Papers Online, 1509-1714 completing the series

Andover, Hampshire UK (7 June 2011) – The largest set of government documents from the Early Modern period is now available online in a searchable digital format for scholarly research. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, working in collaboration with The National Archives, is releasing the fourth and final part of State Papers Online, 1509-1714 completing a series which offers students and researchers unprecedented access to documents covering the full range of the Tudor and Stuart governments’ domestic and foreign activities. The final instalment comprises foreign relations papers from the late Stuart period (1603-1714) with correspondence between the British governments and those of Europe, Barbary (modern Morocco), Russia, Turkey, Scotland and Ireland.

History revealed

Enthralling letters and top secret reports – of similar nature to those revealed in the recent “wikileaks” scandal – expose the backroom politics of the Tudor and Stuart regimes, alert to the threats of internal rebellion and foreign invasion. The material includes accounts of espionage and treason, detailed ambassadorial intelligence reports, and the letters that shuttled between the monarchs and rulers of Europe as they vied for power and brokered alliances. For instance, an original letter of secret advertisements, or intelligence, was sent to Sir Francis Walsingham “shewing how the King of Spaine laboured to get-in with the King of Scotts, and to ruine the Protestant Partie of France”. (Harley 291 f.166).

Published in four parts over four years, State Papers Online, 1509-1714 is the largest digital manuscript archive of its kind to link original historical manuscripts to their fully text-searchable Calendars. Now with the completion of the series, users can cross-search almost 3 million documents housed in separate collections from The National Archives and the British Library. Parts I and II cover the State Papers for the Tudor period, while Parts III and IV complete the collection for the whole of the Stuart period. Combined, all four parts create an essential resource for understanding the socio-economic, political and religious issues of the Early Modern period that shaped the future course of Britain and the modern world.

Academic endorsement

Over 60 institutions worldwide, including Harvard University, University of Cambridge and University of Auckland, already have access to one or more parts of State Papers Online. Dr Jason Peacey, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern British History from University College London comments: “Few resources stand out as ‘game changers’, but State Papers Online will surely be one of them. It is a technological marvel, and its completion will help to open up entirely new avenues of scholarship. State Papers Online will make researchers’ lives a great deal easier, enrich the studies of generations of students, and ultimately transform the field of early modern studies”.

Innovative design

State Papers Online radically transforms and simplifies the process of research. The high resolution manuscript images can be magnified or rotated, viewed in full-screen mode, or side-by-side for comparative analysis. Notes or transcriptions can be made directly into the notepad and saved. Links to both Calendar entries and manuscript folios can be emailed to colleagues, or used to create reading lists for students. Finally, users can submit comments, corrections, or transcriptions for inclusion in the archive to ensure that the Calendars and cataloguing in State Papers Online remains current for this and future generations.

Julia de Mowbray, Publisher of History and Politics at Cengage Learning EMEA, commented: “With State Papers Online, we completely rethought the online product to create an online research environment which reproduces the archive experience of researchers who are already familiar with the material, as well as provide search options, limiters and research tools for students who have not previously encountered manuscripts. SPO enables users to search or browse the volumes page by page, as they would in the reading room, but with the benefit of hyperlinks between Calendar entries and manuscripts, even in the Browse, plus notepads, gradated zoom, side by side view, and so on. We are delighted with the enthusiastic welcome SPO has received and users’ surprise at the extent to which we have listened and understood how they work”.

The National Archives in Kew has played a vital role in the creation of State Papers Online, which signifies the online publication of one of its key collections. Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives, said: “The completion of the State Papers Online project is not only transforming our research experience and usability of challenging records collections, but it’s also extending their access to new audiences whilst revealing previously unknown material. It’s fantastic that the collection has been taken up worldwide and we eagerly await more revelations from the foreign relations records, which have been far less thoroughly explored than the domestic records.”

The online archive is now available for trial and purchase as a complete collection or in parts to institutions ranging from public libraries and academic institutions to museums and galleries.

For a free trial or further information about State Papers Online, please contact [email protected] or visit www.gale.cengage.co.uk/statepapers. Follow us on Twitter @GaleEMEA.

Issued: 07.06.11                                 Ends                                            Ref: CL021

Notes to Editors

1. To download a high resolution jpeg image to accompany this release please click here: http://www.livewirepr.com/fileadmin/user_upload/images/high_res/Manuscriptdisplay.jpg

2. For press enquiries and to receive a range of high resolution images, please contact Jennifer Jackson, Livewire Public Relations, on 020 8339 7440 or email: [email protected].

3. About Cengage Learning and Gale

Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, serves the world’s information and education needs through its vast and dynamic content pools, which are used by students and consumers in their libraries, schools and on the Internet. It is best known for its accuracy, breadth and convenience of its data, addressing all types of information needs – from homework help to health questions to business profiles – in a variety of formats. For more information please visit www.cengage.co.uk or gale.cengage.co.uk.

4. About The National Archives

The National Archives, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk, is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archives of the UK government, it cares for, makes available and ‘brings alive’ a vast collection of over 1000 years of historical records, including the treasured Domesday Book.

Not only safeguarding historical information, The National Archives also manages current digital information and devises new technological solutions for keeping government records readable now and in the future. It provides world class research facilities and expert advice, publishes all UK legislation and official publications, and is a leading advocate for the archive sector.

At the heart of information policy, The National Archives sets standards of best practice that actively promotes and encourages public access to, and the re-use of information, both online or onsite at Kew. This work helps inform today’s decisions and ensures that they become tomorrow’s permanent record.

The National Archives brings together the Public Record Office, Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. See also www.opsi.gov.uk