Catalogue description Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors: Records of Former Colonial Administrations: Migrated Archives

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Details of FCO 141
Reference: FCO 141
Title: Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors: Records of Former Colonial Administrations: Migrated Archives

The records cover a wide range of subject matter relating to colonial administration. The material contains a resource that represents what was happening in the territories, mostly prior to independence and Her Majesty's Government's views. The records complement the material already held at The National Archives.

Timetable for release of the Migrated Archives collection is available on GOV.UK website.

Date: 1835-2012

The records are arranged alphabetically by the then name of the territory whilst under British administration.

The piece order numbers reflect the storage order in which they arrived at The National Archives, as the files are in boxed format. Therefore within each territory, the former reference order has not necessarily been maintained, and not all territories' records will be listed together. A guide to the records will be made available as a finding aid and will provide more information on how to search for the relevant records.

Related material:

See also: CO 1035

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)

Colonial Office, 1854-1966

Commonwealth Office, 1966-1968

Commonwealth Relations Office, 1947-1966

Dominions Office, 1925-1947

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1968-

Physical description: 19957 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office , 2012-2016

Custodial history: The collection was held under FCO custody before transfer to The National Archives.
Selection and destruction information: The Migrated Archives collection was selected under The National Archives acquisition policy criteria 3.1.2 External Relations and Defence.
Accruals: This series will accrue until November 2013. A timetable for the release of the Migrated Archives has been published by the FCO on their website (please see the Scope and content description for a hyperlink).
Administrative / biographical background:

This material was created by former British colonial administrations as part of their daily administration activities.

As British dependent territories came to independence decisions had to be taken about which papers to destroy, which to leave for successor administrations, and which to ship back to the UK.

The general rule, as set out in a Colonial Office guidance telegram of 3 May 1961 on the 'disposal of classified records and accountable documents', was that successor Governments should not be given papers which:

  • might embarrass HMG or other governments;
  • might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers;
  • might compromise sources of intelligence information; or
  • might be used unethically by Ministers in the successor government.

In addition 'There would be little object in handing over documents which would patently be of no value to the successor government'. A great many documents were destroyed on this basis, but others were returned to the UK.

The content and status of the migrated archives is covered in the FCO internal review carried out by Anthony Cary (former British High Commissioner to Canada 2007-2010) and laid before Parliament in February 2011.

Some files created by the Colonial Office Intelligence and Security Department (CO 1035) and the records management branch of the FCO have been included in this series. These records provide background information on the colonial administration files and how they were managed over time, including some destruction records.

This series will contain material from the following territories:

  • Aden;
  • Anguilla;
  • Bahamas;
  • Basutoland;
  • Bechuanaland;
  • British Guiana;
  • British Indian Ocean Territories;
  • Brunei;
  • Cameroons;
  • Ceylon;
  • Cyprus;
  • Fiji;
  • Gambia;
  • Gilbert and Ellice Islands;
  • Gold Coast;
  • Jamaica;
  • Kenya;
  • Malaya;
  • Malta;
  • Mauritius;
  • New Hebrides;
  • Nigeria;
  • North Borneo;
  • Northern Rhodesia;
  • Nyasaland;
  • Palestine;
  • Sarawak;
  • Seychelles;
  • Sierra Leone;
  • Singapore;
  • Solomons (BSIP);
  • Southern Rhodesia;
  • Swaziland;
  • Tanganyika;
  • Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Turks and Caicos;
  • Tuvalu;
  • Uganda;
  • West Indies;
  • Western Pacific;
  • Zanzibar.

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