Cataloging British and Irish government documents

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This article is about cataloging legal documents emanating from, or principally recording the activities of, the governments of England, England and Wales, Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland in the early modern period. In addition to providing guidelines for different types of government documents, this article documents Folger catalogers' deliberate deviation from Resource Description and Access (RDA) in formulating authorized access points. These instructions reflect current policy; there are many records in Hamnet for government documents that follow different standards.


England: 927-1536
England and Wales: 1536-1707
Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales): 1707-
Scotland: -1707
Ireland: -1801


Official announcements given by the sovereign or under his or her approval.

Authorized access points

  • Use the authorized corporate name. For example:
 1101 England and Wales. ǂb Sovereign (1558-1603 : Elizabeth I) 
1101 England and Wales. ǂb Privy Council. 
1101 Scotland. ǂb Sovereign (1424-1437 : James I) 
  • Uniform title "Proclamations" followed by the full, inverted date of the proclamation. For example:
240 10 Proclamations. 1553-07-19

Bibliographical citation

  • Add a 510 reference citation to
510 Crawford, J.L.L. Bibliography of royal proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns and of others published under authority, 1485-1714
  • Note that the ESTC refers to this bibliography as "Steele."
  • Add the Crawford notation. Example:
500 Crawford notation: Arms 10 Scotland mother Raigne.
  • If the item is not in Crawford, give the notation, preface it "Crawford-style notation:" and add the full citation to the bibliography. Example:
500 Not in Crawford, J.L.L. Bibliography of royal proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns and of others published under authority, 1485-1714. Crawford -style notation: Arms 24 are any per-

Genre terms

  • 655 7 Proclamations. ǂ2 rbgenr
If the proclamation was issued by or with the advice of the Privy Council, add also
  • 655 7 Orders in council. ǂ2 rbgenr


Acts of Parliament

  • Use the name valid for the government at the time the document was issued. Enacted laws are entered under the name of the political jurisdiction, not of Parliament. There are three types of acts: public general acts, local acts, and private acts. The uniform title "Public general acts" is appropriate for the majority of enacted legislation in the Folger collection.


  • Example
240 10 Public general acts. 1731. 4 Geo.II
  • For collections of acts of the English and British Parliament and other enacted laws that are complete within a chronological period, use the collective uniform title with the inclusive years. Example:
240 10 Public general acts. 1685-1707
  • For selected collections of acts, &c., add the form term "Selections" at the end.
240 10 Public general acts. 1742. ǂk Selections

Individual acts

  • Use the collective uniform title with the short citation and the chapter number. Example:
240 10 Public general acts. 1731. 4 Geo.II.c.6

Year books

Year books are the law reports of medieval England. Written in Law French (language code roa), they were reprinted through the end of the 17th century.

Example records

Miscellaneous documents

Use "Miscellaneous documents" with inverted 8-digit year for official documents for which no other uniform title is appropriate. Example

110 10 England and Wales. ǂb Sovereign (1625-1649 : Charles I) 
240 10 Miscellaneous documents. 1642-06-16
245 10 His Majesties declaration to all his loving subjects, occasioned by a false and scandalous imputation laid upon His Majesty of an intention of raising or leavying war against his Parliament, and of having raised force to that end ... 


  • Add appropriate genre term: Laws, Legal documents, Legal instruments, Legislative proceedings.

Other government documents

For Scottish laws and other kinds of documents (e.g., bills, parliamentary papers, speeches, treaties), consult the head of cataloging.

External links