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SWOP meeting: "From Parliament Square to Holyrood – historical official publications online"

Belatedly writing up the SWOP meeting, which I posted info about here. Links to available presentations here.

This turned out to be a really useful and interesting event, even though it may have been aimed more at academics and researchers than anything else (it was only me and someone from a Council who weren't academic staff).

  • "Parliament’s past online : a review of sources" Paul Seaward Director – History of Parliament Trust.
This part was full of interesting historical information, and background on UK Parliamentary materials development e.g House of Lords and House of Commons records were stored in different buildings, so a fire in 1834 that destroyed HofC records prior to that date had no effect on HofL records. Parliament Rolls and Statute Rolls are separate. Parliament Rolls of Medieval England (subscription service) and BOPCRIS (an HE and FE academics access only site). So, there's sources, but you have to be an academic to view them, from the looks of it!

  • "From archive to internet: producing an online edition of the records of the pre 1707 Scottish Parliament" Gillian MacIntosh St Andrews University
A review of the background to the development of the Records of the Parliament of Scotland online. Highlighting the lovely option for parallel translations from old Scots, that can be viewed alongside their modern English translations. Noting that there's now a citeable reference style for the old Acts (eg [1604/4/22], denoting year, month and number of the Acts), and original sources are given, unlike the previous printed edition, which is now known to be inaccurate and suffered from the editors personal bias!

  • "Prototyping Hansard" Robert Brook, UK Parliament

An un-official, ad-hoc project, working with the raw Hansard data and reusing it in various ways. It's a very basic, non-prettified version of a website, but it allows users to search on tagged items to find all sorts of information on them, eg, by member name like Tam Dalyell. They specifically don't work with the most current data, stopping at 2004.


I have to confess to tuning out slightly for the following presentations:

  • "Online Historical Population reports" Matthew Woollard – Project Director, Online Historical Reports Project.
  • "Digitisation of Parliamentary Texts at BOPCRIS" Dr Julian Ball, Project Manager, BOPCRIS
  • "ProQuest Parliamentary Papers" Rob Newman, Senior Editor, Proquest CSA

These were very definitely aimed at the academic sector, and researchers of population / history, and therefore not of particular use to me.

But overall, definitely an afternoon well spent - I have a far better understanding of where the historical parliamentary materials came from, why there's gaps, why the printed collected Scottish Acts are unreliable, and now know about a funky online tool to play with Hansard! :D

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