What the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is Hiding in its Secret Archive

FCO archives in Hanslope Park – Katie Engelhart, Vice Magazine.

Richard Overy

Following a meeting last month with representatives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Exeter Professor Richard Overy reports on the status of over 1 million secret files that the FCO has long kept hidden from the public. What is in the files? Will they be made available? If so, when? As Prof. Overy puts it, the situation remains ‘a rather gloomy one’. The Forum has previously reported on the secret archive’s implications for the history of decolonisation. Katie Engelhart (@katieengelhart), James Renton (@RentonJE, #secretarchive), Richard Overy, and Richard Drayton, among others, continue to keep us informed as events unfold.

The meeting was called by the FCO to inform interested academics and archivists about the current position of the so-called ‘Special Collections’ still held in the Foreign Office archives. The object was to gather views about what priority should be given to particular collections and to give a detailed breakdown of the current programme for releasing material to The National Archives. Around 60 people were in attendance with a panel of six experts, including representatives from TNA and the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on archives.

The following points summarize the information that was given at the meeting: Continue reading “What the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is Hiding in its Secret Archive”