Plans for a project to digitise King George III’s private papers will be announced today in the presence of The Queen at an event in Windsor Castle. The project, a collaboration with King’s College London, will commence in the coming weeks and will result in the digitisation of historic documents from the Royal Archives, making them widely available for the first time.
The project will include the digitisation of all the historic manuscripts from the Georgian period, totalling more than 350,000 pages, of which only about 15% have previously been published.
While the vast majority of the collection is papers from George III, papers from Kings George I, George II, George IV and William IV will also be made available.
It is hoped that the work will transform the understanding of Georgian Britain and its monarchy, at a time of profound cultural, political, economic and social change which created the modern nation.
Professor Edward Byrne, President and Principal of King’s College London, said: ‘King’s was founded by King George IV – George III’s eldest son and successor – and with Her Majesty The Queen as our present day Patron, we are delighted and honoured to have been approached by the Royal Household to work on this prestigious project and to continue our long history of association with the Crown. This joint project, to open up over a century of Royal Archives, provides an unprecedented scale of opportunity to discover more about the Georgians.’
The project is part of a wider programme of work by the Royal Archives to open up access to its primary source material, following the success of the digitisation of Queen Victoria’s journals in 2012. The intention is to create a rich internet resource which will be open to academics and the public alike, which will present the documents and allow them to be searched and analysed in creative and flexible ways.
In addition to the digitisation of the Georgian Papers, the Royal Archives has recently agreed an online partnership project with Cengage to digitise the Stuart Papers.
Already available are Queen Victoria’s Journals at www.queenvictoriasjournals.org, an award winning website developed with the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University and the online publisher, ProQuest.
King’s College London has an historic association with the Georgian Archives. The bulk of a collection of scientific instruments accumulated by King George III and others was donated by Queen Victoria to King’s in 1841 for public display and use in scientific demonstrations and experiments. The university converted one of its libraries into a museum for the purpose of exhibiting these and the George III Museum in the King’s Building at the Strand was opened on 22 June 1843 by Queen Victoria’s husband Albert, Prince Consort.
The university’s Departments of Digital Humanities, War Studies and History and the Centre for Enlightenment Studies will all bring expertise to the digitising and exploration of the archives.
The release of this material is a major part of the long term programme to digitise and open up important historical material contained in this private archive. The Georgian Papers Programme is expected to transform historical research and understanding of Britain and its monarchy and a crucial period in British and world history. It will be of particular value to universities, schools, academics and authors in the UK, the Commonwealth and overseas.