From the 1820s papers of significance began to be distributed to officials in the Foreign Office, Cabinet and other departments as Confidential Print. The practice grew until the 1850s when nearly every important dispatch or telegram was routinely printed. The Confidential Prints vary in format from a single page to a substantial volume, many have maps (we have over 700) and diagrams. The documents are numbered 1-10,600 (1827-1914) in roughly order of printing.
For the historian this is an incredible set of primary source documents. They are a window to Britain’s colonial past covering subjects such as slavery, railways, expeditions, diplomatic relations and war, from Abyssinia to Zanzibar.
The index, ‘List of Confidential Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs’ (No. 10330, covers no.1-10,000) has been transcribed. The index was arranged alphabetically by country, and the documents listed roughly in date order.
We do not have a complete set of documents at Oxford, so the search will return
The collection is kept in the Official Papers reading room. Photocopying the documents is not permitted, however they can be scanned by the imaging service, personal scanners are not permitted.
The Colonial Office Confidential Print online catalogue covers over 1000 documents from 1848 to 1915 pertaining to Africa. Selected correspondence, memoranda and other documents were copied for internal use in the Colonial Office and in some cases circulation to the Cabinet and brought together to form this collection. The documents range from a single page to a substantial volume, many containing maps.
The informaton in the online catalogue is based on information from the 'List of Colonial Office Confidential Print to 1916', London, HMSO, 1965.
For the historian this is an incredible set of primary source documents. They are a window to Britain's colonial past. Documents are numbered i-xxix, 1-1037.
You can search for documents by:
You then have the option of emailing the results in a spreadsheet format.
The search will also return:
Once you have searched the database you can then use the document number to order up the item from the closed stack. Documents can be ordered up to a reading room of choice. Photocopying the documents is not permitted, however they can be scanned by Imaging Services. Digital photography is permitted but permission must be sought from a member of staff.