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U.K. Parliamentary Papers

A guide to the interface used for the Parliamentary Papers

About Public Petitions to Parliament - 1833-1918

Public Petitions to Parliament, 1833-1918 is an online module of Parliamentary Papers covering the records of the Select Committee on Public Petitions, 1833-1918.  It includes individually rekeyed metadata records for every one of the >900,000 petitions accepted by Parliament and includes the full text of each petition that the Committee transcribed. Integrated fully with U.K. Parliamentary Papers, this collection shows how “the people” during the 19th C influenced Parliament on political, ecclesiastical, colonial, taxation, and many other topics relevant to the study of Britain and the British Empire within a range of different disciplines within the historical and social studies.

Petitioning was by far the most popular form of political participation, but it has long been overlooked by historians and social scientists preoccupied with elections and election rituals, campaigns to extend the right to vote, and the rise of national political parties.  Utility of public petitions can be used to study the groundswell of public pressure for the expansion of the voting franchise and also to see  the views and priorities of both the populace and Parliament. How Parliament addresses the petition, or doesn’t address it, is a stark indicator of political and social priorities.

Containing petitions on ecclesiastical issues, crime and criminals, colonies, taxation, education, and on every other issue of interest to the populace of Britain, this project appeals to all social, cultural, and religious scholars of Britain. From religious scholars interested on Methodism and the Church of England, scientists concerned with pollution and pollution controls during the Industrial Revolution, and sociologists concerned with how these issues were influenced by and influenced the People, the popular constitutionalism inherent in this collection (as opposed to the "top down" approach to looking at history), is at the cutting edge of historical research today and has wide appeal across campus.