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National Documents


This area of documents is in reality of collection of collections and is generally shelved in the Green Library stacks. There are numerous special holdings that serve as a regional resource, and in some cases, a national resource. The total collection is one of the stronger centers of foreign government documentation in the country.

Great Britain. The pre-eminent collection in this category is the British documents collection. It consists of a complete set of the House of Commons Sessional Papers and debates, and one of the only two substantial sets of House of Lords Sessional Papers in the United States, the other being at the Library of Congress. Ancillary materials, such as further sets of debates, votes, divisions, minutes, journals, and committee reports enrich the basic sets which formerly belonged to the British Foreign Office. These parliamentary titles consist of more than 12,000 individual volumes housed in the Jonsson Library. They cover events from the signing of the Magna Cart through nineteenth century imperial relations to events of contemporary concern. Augmenting these rich holdings is the complete publication output of several government offices: the Public Record Office (the national archive), the Historical Manuscripts Commission, the General Register Office, and the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. Virtually every other office is exceptionally well represented. Current output is secured both from the national printer, HMSO, and from a private service for agency generated titles as listed in the Catalogue of British Official Publications Not Published by HMSO, 1980- . Beyond these resources is the strongest American collection of Public Record Office microfilm of original manuscript material residing in London. There are more that 7,500 reels of film that document every period of English history. Especially strong are holdings for the Tudor/Stuart period, nineteenth and twentieth century foreign affairs, and twentieth century Cabinet Office and Prime Minister's Office. The foreign affairs papers relate mainly to Africa, Japan, China, Tibet, Mongolia, United States, Western Europe and Russia. The Bancroft Library at Berkeley complements these with more than 2,000 reels relating to Central America. Collectively, Stanford and Bancroft maintain America's premier collection of British governmental papers.

Latin America. Along with the British collection, Latin American documents are a focus at Stanford. The Brazilian, Argentinean, Chilean, Uruguayan, and Mexican collections are among the best in the country. Congressional publications are exceptionally strong: virtually complete sets of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, of Chilean debates from 1930 to 1972, of nineteenth century Mexico, and of Uruguayan congressional proceedings covering the 1820's to date are collected. Monographic works are especially well represented, including state government publications, particularly for Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. The "Berkeley-Stanford Cooperative Agreement on the Collecting of Documents for the Latin American Region" insures that titles from lesser ministries of a number of countries are systematically acquired: Stanford emphases Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, (as well as the Guianas) and Cuba. Those countries not detailed here are nevertheless strong in overall holdings and exceptional in certain titles, such as reports on foreign affairs and messages of presidents.

France. The collection of documents for revolutionary France (1789-1872) is strong, not only in the proceedings of the early assemblies, such as the Proces-Verbal for 1789-1791 in 75 volumes and the Journal des Debats, but also in the scores of pamphlets of governmental committees and commissions. The period closes with good documentation for the Paris Commune. The major parliamentary sets are virtually complete for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (e.g., the Moniteur Universel), and executive agency titles for the latter part of the twentieth century are rich in the social, political, historical, linguistic and anthropological areas.

Sub-Saharan Africa. The major strength lies in colonial documents from the mother countries, such as British colonial reports from the 1850's to 1960, and the Portuguese colonial bulletins from Lisbon for 1925 to 1967. Thereafter, publications from newly independent countries' agencies are well represented, although regularity of issue is not a strong feature for many of the countries.

Canada and Australia. Both countries have very solid representation for nineteenth century parliamentary proceedings: the Australian state collections are the strongest in America and the core works of the Canadian government are available. To quote Professor Carl Solberg of the University of Washington, "The [Canadian] documentary holdings are superb...Parliamentary debates, censuses, statistical series, ministerial and departmental reports, Royal Commission reports--all are here and remarkably complete. These holdings are a major scholarly resource."


Last modified: March 2, 2006

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