Catalogue description Foreign Office: News Department: General Correspondence from 1906

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Date range

Details of FO 395
Reference: FO 395
Title: Foreign Office: News Department: General Correspondence from 1906

This series contains correspondence, etc., of the News Department.

Date: 1916-1939
Separated material:

There are no separate News Department records for the period of the Second World War and the years immediately following it; the department worked on files of the Political Departments and the Ministry of Information during the war and on those of the Information Departments after 1946. Papers were again kept departmentally from 1949. For records after 1939 see FO 953

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

Foreign Office, News Department, 1914-1968

Physical description: 666 volume(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Administrative / biographical background:

The News Department was set up in 1914 to collect information from the foreign press, to supply information to and to monitor the press in London and to carry out propaganda abroad. From early 1916 it also co-ordinated propaganda work abroad in allied and neutral countries carried out by other departments. In 1917 its propaganda functions passed to the Department of Information, but it retained duties relating to press censorship. After the war the Ministry of Information was wound up, but its activities which were of permanent value were carried out once more by the Foreign Office.

The News Department was reconstituted, providing information and publicity abroad, but carrying out a lower level of activity than during the war. From March 1918 until it was wound up in 1920 the Political Intelligence Department, originally the Intelligence Branch of the Department of Information, was linked with it. In 1934 its responsibility for cultural propaganda was taken over by the new British Council, which conducted its overseas activities through Foreign Office staff.

In July 1939 a Foreign Publicity Department was formed within the Foreign Office and the News Department lost its function of giving publicity to Britain abroad whilst retaining its responsibility for giving information to British and foreign correspondents in London. On the outbreak of war the new Ministry of Information absorbed the Foreign Publicity Department and a great part of the work of the News Department, which during the war was in the same building as the ministry. The residual News Department was responsible for liaison between the Political Departments of the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Information.

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