“The King’s Library of Manuscripts”: The State Paper Office as Archive and Library


The State Papers were the principal executive instruments of the early modern English state. By 1610 they were kept in the State Paper Office, remaining there until 1854, when they were subsumed into the Public Record Office. This article examines whether the State Paper Office, over two centuries, had more characteristics of a modern archive or a library. To do so, it looks at the key archival processes of appraisal, and arrangement and description, as well as exploring whether, like modern archives, the records were understood contextually or, like a modern library, they were regarded as discrete containers of information.