This project will provide online access to the most significant collections of 19th century pamphlets held in UK research libraries. Digitising around 30,000 paper copy pamphlets, which focus on the political, economic and social issues that fuelled the great Parliamentary debates and controversies of the 19th century.

19th century pamphlets online

Latest News: This collection is now available online and can be searched via the collection pages on the JSTOR site or via  http://www.britishpamphlets.org.uk/ . Librarians can sign their institution up via the page on JISC Collections website.

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The project

This project is providing online access to some of the most significant collections of 19th-century pamphlets held in UK research libraries. Over 26,000 paper copy pamphlets, which focus on the political, economic and social issues that fuelled the great Parliamentary debates and controversies of the 19th century, have been digitised. They provide researchers, students and teachers with an immensely rich and coherent corpus of primary sources with which to study the socio-political and economic landscape of 19th-century Britain.

Pamphlets played an important role within the great debates of the 19th century and are a valuable but underused primary resource. This is largely due to their scarcity and the difficulties in accessing them – they are often bound together in large numbers or otherwise hard to find within the few research libraries that hold them.

Exposing this material to a wider audience to support both learning and research is of particular value, as their interest lies not only in their content but in the format itself: as a medium for academic or other discourse, expressing personal beliefs, or responding to major societal issues. Understanding why they were produced and why acquired adds an extra dimension to the study of a fascinating period.

Led by University of Southampton as part of an RLUK consortium of seven research libraries, this project has captured several whole collections that belonged to individual politicians or political families. Although they have a political emphasis, these collections represent the wide interests of their collectors.

Selections of items from larger collections will address areas not represented by the smaller, complete collections in order to provide a broad representation of 19th century pamphlet literature.

The pamphlets are being delivered via JSTOR, who were also contributors to the project, and they will sit alongside journals and other scholarly material. The collection is freely available to any member of the following -  HE and FE institutions, UK Public Libraries and Archives and UK Schools. Such instituions must sign licenses, via JISC Collections, to achieve such access.

The content

The project has created full text and images of more than 1 million pamphlet pages, comprising over 26,000 pamphlets in all. Content has been added to the JSTOR website throughout 2009. The list .

Contributing Library (and Collection)

 Est. Pam.
Actual pam.
Est. pages

Actual pages

Durham (Grey)

 1,160

945

 75,478

36,452

Liverpool (Knowsley)

 1,209

1,494

 51,745

77,271

University College London (Hume)

 3,528

4,847

 148,881

214,452

Newcastle (Cowen)

 1,579 1,896  45,796

71,463

Manchester (FCO and additional selections)

 3,149

5,075

 109,281

196,425

Bristol (selections)

 6,250

5,019

 284,375

187,133

London School of Economics (selections)
 6,250

6,765

 250,000

217,536

Total

 23,125

26,041

 1,000,556

1,000,732

The process

Building on a large, retrospective cataloguing project, the nineteenth-century pamphlets project began by identifying several key collections of pamphlets that could be scanned in their entirety.  This gave the project a pragmatic way to choose over 20,000 pamphlets to digitise, but also meant each pamphlet could be understood within the context of a specific historic collection.

Early on the project commissioned a database from the Institute of Learning and Research Technology  at Bristol, allowing the participating libraries access to pre-loaded records for each collection, allowing institutions to easily identify duplications, the physical condition of items and copyright status.  The information from this database could also be imported into the database of the institution scanning the material.

The digitisation of the pamphlets was centralised at BOPCRIS within the University of Southampton Library.  Material was transported from the home sites to Southampton, with a number of security measures built into the transportation of the material.  The pamphlets were then digitised (including OCR), and the images stored in directories.  These directories could then be checked by JSTOR on top of the standard checks carried out by BOPCRIS.  Once all the checks have been carried out the full archival dataset can be created (including: images, metadata and OCR), and transferred to JSTOR for delivery.

Once JSTOR received the datasets a delivery dataset is generated, and archive a copy to its dark archive for preservation.  Unlike the standard look of JSTOR, the images from the pamphlets collections will maintain a facsimile appearance enriching the users experience.  JSTOR and the project will be constantly obtaining feedback from users to enhance and improve the experience of users of this precious resource.

Final Project Report

Download the final report (PDF)

Lead site University of Southampton

Project partners: BOPCRIS/University of Southampton; University of Bristol; RLUK; Durham University; JSTOR; University of Liverpool; LSE; University of Manchester; MIMAS; University of Newcastle; UCL

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