How to look for records of... Political history in the 19th century

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free



This is a brief guide to help you find records of 19th century political history. The National Archives holds many records for this period, including the correspondence and minutes of the major departments, such as the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Treasury.

We also hold the papers of some prominent politicians. Collections of papers are also held by other archives.

What records can I see online?

House of Commons parliamentary papers (1715-present)

Search Parliamentary papers (institutional subscription required) for digitised copies of official papers published by the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The Gazette (1665-present)

Search the London Gazette, on The Gazette website, by date or keyword for official news from home and abroad.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Papers of prominent people

Search Discovery, our catalogue, by name and tick the ‘held by The National Archives’ box to find records held at The National Archives relating to particular people, such as politicians.

Home Office records (1782-2005)

You can search our catalogue by a range of years within HO with keywords such as:

  • poverty
  • crime
  • public health

If you do not find what you are looking for, browse the department code HO for Home Office records instead. Not all the records in HO are searchable by keywords.

Treasury records (1557-1922)

Browse our catalogue in record series T1, for records of the Treasury including correspondence, reports and minutes.

Foreign Office records (before 1906)

Browse our catalogue in record series FO 1-FO 90 and FO 95-FO 111 for records earlier than 1906. These are mostly arranged by country.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Records held in archives in the United Kingdom and abroad

Our catalogue has details of collections held by over 2,500 archives. Search for key political figures in our catalogue and click on the ‘record creators’ tab to find where records are held.

What other resources will help me find information?

Websites

Explore a range of 19th century sources in British History Online.

Consult the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (institutional subscription required) for biographies of prominent people.

Search The Times Archive and Guardian and Observer Digital Archive to view articles (£) about 19th century politics.

Search on Historic Hansard for official report of debates in Parliament.

Search on Parliamentary Papers for House of Common sessional papers from 1715 to present day.

Pamphlets and newspapers

Search the catalogues on the British Library website to find 19th century political pamphlets and newspapers.

Did you know?

The 19th century was a period of great political and social change, including social reforms affecting education, poverty and public health, and reform of the franchise.

The Home Office was created in 1782 to supervise the internal affairs of Great Britain, with particular emphasis on law, order and regulation.

The Foreign Office, formed in 1782 and merged into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1968, was the department responsible for the conduct of British relations with nearly all foreign states.