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Foreign and Commonwealth Office Pamphlet Collection

Date range: 16th-20th centuries

Medium: Printed

Number of items: 15,000 items.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library was established in 1968 from the libraries founded at the Foreign Office in 1801, at the Colonial Office a few years later, at the Dominions Office in 1925, and at the Ministry of Overseas Development in 1964.

The pamphlet collection from the FCO Library was placed on permanent deposit in the University of Manchester Library in 1993. It consists of 301 volumes of pamphlets collected by the Foreign Office and 359 volumes from the Colonial Office, comprising some 15,000 individual items in total. The great bulk of the Foreign Office material dates from 1815 to 1919. It is largely of pamphlets acquired by ambassadors overseas and sent back to London as being of value for the formulation of policy.

The following fields are particularly well represented in the collection:

  • South America, where the British Government was the formal arbitrator in boundary disputes;
  • The Near East, where the last century of the Ottoman Empire and the growth of Zionism are documented;
  • The various great European ‘Questions’, from the Congress of Vienna through to German material published during the First World War and smuggled out through Switzerland.

The Colonial Office pamphlets are chiefly of local imprints, including unique early Australiana. A substantial portion of the pamphlets, particularly those of the Foreign Office, are likely to be otherwise unrepresented in British libraries, and much of the Latin American material may well be unique.

Further information:

Recorded in Library Search.

Other information:

The remainder of the historical library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was transferred to King’s College London on permanent loan in 2007. More information on this collection and other relevant material is available on their website.

Alternative formats:

3,969 pamphlets (1545-1900) have been digitised and are available via JSTOR (subscription required).


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