Cabinet Office at 100

December 1916 saw the first official record of a Cabinet Office meeting under the first Cabinet Secretary,  Maurice Hankey (Lord Hankey of the Chart 1877-1963). As the Cabinet Office sits at the heart of government its role is crucial to the development and effective implementation of government policies in the past and today. The historical record of the Cabinet is of paramount importance to the historian. A wealth of information can be found in their records on events such as World War One and the Suez Crisis.

As part of the 100 year celebration the Cabinet Office hosted a panel discussion, 100 years of Cabinet Secretarties – six in discussion which was posted on the Cabinet Service blog

The records of the Cabinet Office are held at the National Archives , who have a new resource, Cabinet Office 100 and an online guide Cabinet and its Committees. At the end of the guide there is also a useful guide to further reading. Many now have been digitised and are available at Cabinet Office Papers, a useful review on the papers has been written by Dr Michael Hopkins in ‘Reviews in History‘. Please note, Cabinet papers are subject to the 30 year rule.

Two new books on the Cabinet Office are now available:

Official Histories of the Cabinet Secretaries, by Ian Beesley, 2017

Cabinet Office 1916-2016: the Birth of Modern Government, by Anthoy Seldon and Jonathan Meakin, 2016

Today the Cabinet Office have their own twitter account, @CabinetOffice and YouTube channel, cabinetofficeuk. At the UK Government Web Archive hosted by the National Archives you will find archived twitter, video and websites relevant to the Cabinet Office.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries Oxford.

 

 

 

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection

The Foreign Office was created in 1782 and merged to become the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1968. The historical library collection of the FCO was transferred to  Kings College London in 2007 on permanent loan. The collection comprises of over 80,000 items to include photographs and manuscripts. For the historian this is an excellent primary resource. As the FCO was the department responsible for the conduct of relations with nearly all foreign states they are a window to Britain’s colonial past covering subjects such as slavery and the abolition of, railways, expeditions, diplomatic relations and war.

The majority of the collection is housed in the Foyle Special Collections Library. Anyone can view the collections though if you are not a member of Kings College a prior appointment is advisable. The collection is not lending but copies can be supplied and readers are allowed to use their own cameras. Approximately 50% of the collection is not catalogued but the library team welcome enquiries about subject coverage and will locate relevant material for viewing.  For material that is catalogued the main library catalogue can be used.

The records of the department and staff itself are held by The National Archives who also hold substantial collections of FCO material.

For a quick overview please see the introductory leaflet.

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries Oxford

Vellum has a place in the 21st century…

An article posted on the BBC magazine site ‘Why is the UK still printing its laws on vellum?   raises the interesting point that archiving digital material is still at its infancy. Four Copies of the 800 year old Magna Carta still survive.  Of the digital records created today what will be accessible in 800 years time one wonders?

 

 

 

 

Parliament’s Web Archive

Parliament’s Web Archive provides access to previous versions of the parliamentary website dating back to 2009.

The page has a very useful list of archives held on external websites, such as YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

You can also browse an archive for the ‘legacy websites‘ which are websites that are no longer available on the live web, for example, ‘Parliament and the British Slave Trade 1600-1807’

An A-Z index is also available, where you can search by type of publication as well as by provider of the archive.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries

 

National Archives receives first born-digital records from government departments

As part of The National Archives’ pioneering digital transfer project, on the 24th June 2015 the first born-digital records have been transferred from a government department to The National Archives and are available on their online catalogue, Discovery

Digitization of the House of Lords papers 1800-1910

Available from November 2015, Proquest has partnered with the National Library of Scotland to provide this set of papers for the first time in digital format. The papers will be available via the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database on a subscription basis.

‘As the working documents of government, the House of Lords Parliamentary Papers encompass wide areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, providing evidence of committees and commissions during a time when the Lords in the United Kingdom wielded considerable power. Most importantly from a legislative perspective, this collection will include many bills which originated and were subsequently rejected by the Lords – rich indicators of the direction and interests of the Lords that have been largely lost to researchers.’

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries

New from the Parliamentary Archives

A prototype service which allows you to search for records from the Parliament Archives online catalogue by place. There is currently one set of records held by the Parliamentary Archives available to search via the map interface – the Protestation Returns, which are the closest record we have to a census from 1642.

Modern Political Papers at the Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library holds one of the largest concentrations of modern British political manuscripts and archives, providing a breadth of coverage which makes it a resource of national and international significance. The collections have been drawn from the private papers of politicians from all three major political parties, as well as from public servants (mainly diplomats), print and broadcast journalists, and others active in public life. In scale the collections range in size from over 2000 boxes to a single diary.

Prime Ministers and the Cabinet

This unrivalled resource includes the papers of six of Britain’s twentieth-century Prime Ministers: H.H. Asquith (1852-1928), Clement Attlee (1883-1967), Harold Macmillan (1894-1986), Harold Wilson (1916-95), Edward Heath (1916-2005) and James Callaghan (1912-2005), and one from the nineteenth century, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) (see also our online Disraeli exhibition). The Library also holds the manuscripts and archives of over forty British Cabinet Ministers, from the Liberal minister John Morley (1838-1923) to the papers of the Labour cabinet minister and campaigner, Barbara Castle (1910-2002).