5. Official publications
UN documents A portal to the maze of these documents can be found here. It contains links to all of the key pages. Look out in particular for theReports of the Secretary-Generalto the Security Council on current crises (which go back to 1994, and for which I used to have to trudge down to the UN Information Office in London and spend a fortune on photocopying) and the Practices, Procedures and Working Methods of the Security Council.
Department of State Bulletin (1939-). Courtesy of the Hathi Trust Digital Library, this can be found here (to 1983); alternatively, thanks to the Boston Public Library (to 1989) here (scroll down the page until you find it).
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee The publications of this select committee of the House of Commons are available hereback to the 1997-1998 session of parliament. They include reports, minutes of evidence and memoranda, and are quite invaluable.
House of Commons Debates. Archived Commons ‘Hansard’ can be foundhere.
Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. The annual reports and special reports of this body are generally rather anodyne; nevertheless, they are well worth trawling for evidence on priorities, staffing, service morale, etc. Its Russia Report, although in autumn 2019 cleared for publication by the intelligence community itself, has so far been scandalously withheld by British prime minister Boris Johnson, obviously to prevent political embarrassment.
Diplomatic Lists and Diplomatic Service Lists Strictly speaking, a diplomatic list is a list of the diplomatic staff (plus partners of heads of mission) of all missions in one state, with their addresses in the capital. Hence, for example, the Washington diplomatic list, the Canberra diplomatic list, and so on. By contrast, a diplomatic service list is a list of the members of an individual state’s entire diplomatic service, traditionally divided into two main sections: first, the staff of each overseas mission; second, biographies of each member of the service. However, some states have usually merged the two in one publication, and many have always added a great deal of other useful information. For security reasons, today’s lists are generally far more economical in the provision of biographical detail on individuals and many – perhaps most – appear only online. Current diplomatic lists are more readily found online than diplomatic service lists. Just search e.g. ‘Stockholm Diplomatic List’ and you will find it here. I provide below links to some of the most accessible of the older lists, which are naturally of most value to historians of diplomacy:
The FCO Diplomatic Lists Archive: In 1991 this unique archive of diplomatic lists from all over the world – dating from the 1950s to the 1990s – was donated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to my Centre for the Study of Diplomacy at the University of Leicester, and was catalogued by my daughter, Cathy. It rested for most of the time in the University Library’s Special Collections section but in 2021 was transferred to King’s College London, see here.
The Foreign Office List and Diplomatic and Consular Year Book (1852–1965); The Diplomatic Service List (1966–2005): Scanned editions of the (British) FO List used to be almost impossible to find on the Internet but a few began pop up a few years ago, and I discovered recently that Google Books has got in on the act in a serious way. Many are already freely available from this source, currently going as far back as 1857. Simply click on this page and keep clicking ‘more editions’ to see them all. You might well find a few more by assiduous searching.
Annuaire diplomatique de l’Empire Français (1858–1870) BnF Gallica; and Annuaire Diplomatique et Consulaire de la République Française (1870–1975, with gaps)BnF Gallica. These French lists, made freely available by the digital division (Gallica) of the National Library of France, are brilliant – packed with detail and easily searchable.
Jahrbuch des K.u.K. Auswärtigen Dienstes (1897–1917) available here. The Austro-Hungarian lists are useful but not readily searchable.
Register of the Department of State (1875–1949, with gaps), thereafter the [US] Foreign Service List. Search for the Register with key words ‘register of department of state Hathi Trust’ and for many editions of the later Foreign Service List here.
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers online Those fortunate enough to have access to ProQuest’s online House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (most university staff and students in Britain, I believe, as well as registered readers at the British Library) also have access to a gold mine of information on the history of the diplomatic and consular services. This is to be found in the voluminous papers of the numerous select committees and royal commissions which investigated these services in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They throw light not only on the British services but on foreign ones as well, because the Foreign Office was usually asked to provide information on them for comparative purposes. The papers are of three kinds: reports, minutes of evidence, and appendices. The minutes of evidence, actually verbatim transcripts of questions to and answers from the witnesses before the investigating bodies, are particularly valuable. Almost all of the reports have astonishingly detailed and helpful indexes as well. ProQuest has also made them searchable, though the original indexes are so good that this facility is not really necessary once you have found the document you want. The documents are all available as PDF downloads and are easier to manipulate in this format.
Some of these papers are not easy to identify because the investigations which generated them were part of wider inspections of the civil service as a whole. As a result, they are sometimes masked by more general titles. It is partly for this reason that I thought it would be a good idea to offer a list of these papers (up to the First World War) in a form that will make them easy to locate.
When you have logged in, click ‘Search’. If, for example, you want to look at the first document listed below, just scroll to the bottom of the page and key ‘499’ into the ‘Paper number’ box and 1835 to 1835 into the ‘Year’ box, and – hey presto!
Don’t forget that if you are able to download these onto a personal computer you will find them easier to manipulate. Don’t overlook, too, the fact that by keying into the search facility such words as ‘diplomatic’ and ‘consular’ you will find many other valuable documents as well. I have not yet got round to re-visiting the post-World War I reports so this list is incomplete.
499, 10 Aug. 1835: Report from the Select Committee on Consular Establishment; together with the Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix
611, 25 July 1850: Report from the Select Committee on Official Salaries; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendic, and Index
482, 27 July 1858: Report from the Select Committee on Consular Service and Appointments; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index
459, 23 July 1861: Report from the Select Committee on Diplomatic Service; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index
382, 25 July 1870: Report from the Select Committee on Diplomatic and Consular Services; together with the proceedings of the Committee, minutes of evidence, and appendix
238, 18 May 1871: First Report from the Select Committee on Diplomatic and Consular Services; together with Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix
380, 24 July 1871: Second Report from the Select Committee on Diplomatic and Consular Services; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index
314, 16 July 1872: Report from the Select Committee on Diplomatic and Consular Services; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index
6172, 1890: Fourth Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Civil Establishments of the different Offices of State at Home and Abroad [Diplomatic and Consular] PLUS ATTACHED 6172-I, 1890: Fourth Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Civil Establishments of the different Offices of State at Home and Abroad. Minutes of Evidence, with Summary and Appendix
7748, 1914: Royal Commission on the Civil Service. Fifth Report of the Commissioners [Diplomatic and Consular]
7749, 1914: Royal Commission on the Civil Service. Appendix to Fifth Report of the Commissioners. Minutes of Evidence, 29th April 1914-16th July 1914, with Appendices [Diplomatic and Consular]
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.