Just over a century ago, in the early years of the reign of King George V (r.1910–36), the Royal Archives was established in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle. The papers of George III and George IV were among the first collections to be moved to this new archive, following their discovery in the basement of Apsley House, the London residence of the Duke of Wellington. The Georgian Papers, which have grown in size and content since 1914, remain, to this day, in the Round Tower, safely stored in humidity and temperature-controlled conditions.
A key element of the Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) is the maintenance of best practice in conservation during the cataloguing and digitisation of the estimated 350,000 pages and 995 volumes that form the collection. Conservation treatments have been carried out on many Georgian documents and bindings over the last century but, before the digitisation programme could begin, it was essential that a comprehensive conservation survey of the papers be completed at item level. As well as identifying any treatments required before digitisation, the survey has also allowed conservators to ascertain the resources necessary for the long-term stability of the collection, which consists almost exclusively of manuscripts on handmade paper and leather or paper-bound volumes, in addition to a lesser quantity of vellum, parchment and printed material.
The digitisation of Georgian material from the Royal Archives and Royal Library is being carried out in the recently refurbished digitisation studio in the Round Tower, where images will be captured of hundreds of thousands of pages for publication as part of Georgian Papers Online.
Staff in the Royal Archives are cataloguing the Georgian Papers in detail and, for the first time, the documents will be arranged as distinct collections according to their provenance. It is planned that further enhancement of the catalogue will be carried out by academics and programme partners.
Read more about GPP cataloguing in this blogpost
Academics who are awarded Georgian Papers Programme Fellowships by King’s College, the Omohundro Institute, and other US project participants, are now researching the Georgian documents in the newly refurbished and improved research room at the Royal Archives.