News: August 2006

On August 3, 2006, The National Archives granted a non-commercial licence to the O'Quinn Law Library to acquire and make available on the web digital images of certain document series in its holdings. The chronological range of the licence is 1272 to 1650. For that whole range the licence covers the series CP40 (court of common pleas plea rolls), KB27 (court of king's bench plea rolls), E159 and E368 (the two memoranda rolls series), and E13 (the exchequer of pleas plea rolls). The licence includes the C33 series (Chancery orders and decrees) from its origin to 1650 and JUST 1 (itinerant justices' rolls) from 1272 to 1350. Lesser series covered by the licence include material from exchequer equity books and material from the Duchy of Lancashire and from Cheshire.

At the time of the grant of the licence a large amount of material had already been digitized. At the time of the launch of the website, there will be sufficient quantities of material available to enable large research projects in the first decades of Edward I's reign, in the years just before and after the Black Death of 1348, and in the English Reformation. A nice run of Chancery orders in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century will be available at launch, as well as a concentration of material in 1607. Various exemplary documents from other years will be included for the purposes of comparison.

The expectation for this project is that the website will serve as a model for low-cost, high-volume acquisition of digitized research material made accessible without charge to the public. While useful for a broad range of historians, the material will be particularly useful for those who find that personal, financial, familial, or physical limitations prevent them from accessing the material at the National Archives in Kew.

The financing for the AALT website comes from the Kenneth W. Reese Library Endowment attached to the chair of the Cullen Professor of History and Law at the University of Houston. Acquisition of the digitized material up to launch of the website was subsidized by the endowment of the chair of the Cullen Professor of History and Law at the University of Houston. The actual camera work involved was performed by Robert C. Palmer, Cullen Professor of History and Law (by and large, for all the Latin plea rolls) and by Elspeth K. Palmer, a graduate student in English literature at the University of Texas (by and large, for the English language equity volumes).

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