Command Papers comprise a distinct category of Sessional Papers. They are documents which are not originated by Parliament but are presented to Parliament "by command of His/Her Majesty" (actually, by the ministers of the Government). Those command papers which are statements of government policy are often called "white papers". Other command papers relay information possessed by the Government to Parliament and are often reports of a study or program, or a proposal for Parliament's consideration. Command papers include reports of royal commissions and departmental committees, policy papers, the Treaty series and other state papers. In earlier years they were unnumbered and usually printed in, or as appendices to the Journal of the House of Commons. But since 1833 they have been published as part of the Parliamentary papers with a separate numbering system that is not tied to a year or a session. To see a listing of gaps in the official numbering sequence of Command Papers (1870-1899) as well as a brief list of Command Papers absent from House of Commons Papers but present in Lords Papers, see A checklist of the British Parliamentary Papers (bound set), 1801-1950 (K.A.C. Parsons. 1958. Z2009 .P30 MAGIL, index area).
Command Papers are numbered consecutively, theoretically to 9999, in series as follows:
1 - 4222 1833-1869
C.1 - C.9550 1870-1899
Cd.1 - Cd.9239 1900-1918
Cmd.1 - Cmd.9889 1919-1956
Cmnd.1 - Cmnd. 9927 1957-1985/86
Cm. 1 - 1986/87-
All Command Papers except those in the first series (1833-1869) have their numbers printed on the title pages in the lower left-hand corner.
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. British Sessional Papers. Readex Corporation.
MAGIL, closed stacks (MCP J301 .K61).
The Library has 1731-1978/79. The volume numbering corresponds to the official bound volume set. The following boxes contain some fire-damaged microprints: 1801-1802, Vols. I-VII; 1857-1858, Vol. XLI; 1863-1900, Collection of Indexes General Annual ; 1884, Vols. I-XXIV
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. [Command papers.]
MAGIL, open stacks (Gt. Brit. 10-1).
These are unbound papers filed in numerical order based on the chronological labeling scheme listed above. University of Georgia Libraries holdings cover 1919 - 1984 with the majority of the collection corresponding to the period 1968-1982.
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Sessional Papers, 1979-80-present.
MAGIL, British microfiche cabinets, call numbers as listed below.
Coverage of Command Papers starts selectively in 1993 with greater coverage going forward. Select "command papers only" under "Official document status". Other document classes are also available with varying date coverage.
If the date of a command paper is known but not its number...
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Sessional Indexes, 1801-1978/79.
[In: British Sessional Papers. Readex Corporation
MAGIL, closed stacks (MCP J301 .K61).]
The Sessional Indexes will allow you for the period 1833-1978/79 to identify the correct volume and page or command paper number with which to look for the paper in the collection that corresponds to its date.
For the period 1801-1900 look in the index boxes labeled "Collection of Indexes General Annual 1801-1862" and "Collection of Indexes General Annual 1863-1900". A few years missing from these are in the box labeled "Collection of Indexes 1696-1900". The following boxes contain some fire-damaged microprints: 1801-1802, Vols. I-VII; 1857-1858, Vol. XLI; 1863-1900, Collection of Indexes General Annual ; 1884, Vols. I-XXIV
For the period 1901-1978/79 the index is generally the last volume of each session's set of volumes. Some years the sessional index will be in the last volume of the section labelled Accounts and Papers. A decennial index covering 1950-1959 is in volume XXXIX of the session for 1962/63.
Great Britain. Stationery Office. Government Publications, 1966- . Annual cumulation with monthly issues. (Title changed to Annual Catalogue with 1985.)
MAGIL, index area (Z2009 .G822).
For the period 1966 to present this source provides annual listings of Command Papers. Be prepared to check several annual catalogs later than the date of the paper.
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, CD-ROM Index, 1991/92 session - present. [Chadwyck-Healey]
If only the command paper number is known...
For the period 1980 to present, go directly to the Sessional Papers on microfiche.
For the period 1919-1979, try going directly to the unbound Command Papers in the stacks.
For the period 1833-1977:
DiRoma, Edward. Numerical Finding List of British Command Papers Published 1833-1961/62 or Elizabeth MacBride's supplement to 1976/77.
MAGIL, index area (Z2009 .D5).
If neither the date nor the command paper number is known...