The “Annual Register”

First published in 1758 and authored during its first years by Edmund Burke, the Annual Register (complete run from 1758-1922; index 1758-1819)  is still being produced today. It is an yearly compilation of news and events of importance to Great Britain. (Here is a short history of this title.) This is an excellent primary source to consult with its contemporary reviews of history, politics, and literature along with sections on “natural history” as well. What is of particular importance to those who peruse these blog entries is its goldmine of information, easily overlooked but simple to find. For example, in the 1805 volume (I know, Trafalgar and all), you will find the following sections that are contained in other volumes, too: pp.518-579 contain eyewitness accounts of British naval (numerous Trafalgar documents) and army exploits; 580 has birth and death statistics; 581-583 presents food and stock prices; 584-586 shows the budget for the navy and army and the exact number of men “to be employed”; 586-594 outlines expenditures for “miscellaneous services” among them “foreign and other secret services” to the tune of 170,000 pounds and the revenue streams necessary to support all the government mandates; 595 starts a list of enacted public bills; while 605-741 collect “State Papers” including documents from Napoleon, treaties, letters, dispatches, pronouncements and the like from a whole host of governments and individuals. All translated into English, a boon for those who are foreign-language challenged. A marvelous place in which to immerse oneself for a flavor of the time period,.

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