Material pertaining to the Foreign Office, Colonial Office, India Office, and East India Company in general is listed under their tabs.  Material pertaining to these agencies in particular areas is listed under the regional tabs.

The Guides and Bibliographies in the left hand column may list material not available at Harvard.  Some of this will be only at the British National Archives or at other British repositories.  Some may be available on microfilm via Interlibrary Loan from non-Harvard repositories.


Numerous printed primary sources can be found in HOLLIS by searching Subject keyword, e.g., Egypt and limiting to your period of interest, but note that documents on your period may be published much later. You can focus your search by adding additional Subject terms, e.g., Colonization, Commerce, or additional Genre terms, e.g., Sources, Archives, Correspondence. Note the terms occurring under Subject on pertinent HOLLIS records and search on those, or in HOLLIS+ do a Browse HOLLIS by... browse on Algeria. It is better to look through a large set of HOLLIS records for the good ones than to do a too specific search and exclude pertinent records unseen. For more on HOLLIS searching.

Secondary Sources

Historical Abstracts (1954- ) includes books, book chapters, journal articles (but not book reviews) for non-North American history, 1450-date.

Bibliography of British and Irish History is a comprehensive bibliography of books and periodical articles on British and British colonial history. Most historical society publications were excluded.


Many originally printed or manuscript primary sources have been microfilmed and are available in the Government Documents/Microforms Collection in the Lamont Library Level B, which holds most of Harvard's microforms other than newspapers. If you find an archival/manuscript source in one of the guides to material in Britain listed on the Guides to Archives/Manuscripts page or the Guides and Bibliographies boxes of the geographical pages, check in HOLLIS and WorldCat to see if a microfilm is available. If in WorldCat, via Interlibrary Loan.  The collection numbers are often useful for searching. "CO 96" yields

Archival Material

Most government archives related to the colonies and foreign relations are housed in the National Archives (formerly called the Public Record Office).  Records related to India are mainly held by the India Office Records in the British Library.

National Archives

The National Archives offers an excellent research guide for colonial records, Looking for records of British colonies and dependencies and Colonies and dependencies: further research.  There are several guides for Foreign Office records (scroll down to Foreign Office).

Foreign and Colonial History guides (National Archives)

Records of the Colonial Office, Dominions Office, Commonwealth Relations Office, and Commonwealth Office / Anne Thurston. London : HMSO, 1995, 479 p. (British documents on the end of empire. [Series C], Sources for colonial studies in the Public Record Office ; v. 1 )
Widener | WID-LC | DA10 .B754 1995x vol.
Documents (Lamont) | Br Doc 6.15 vol. 1
Law School | Harvard Depository | CD 1052 .A67x 1995

Records of the Cabinet, Foreign Office, Treasury and other records, by  Anne Thurston. London: Stationery Office, 1998, 565 p. (British documents on the end of empire. [Series C], Sources for colonial studies in the Public Record Office ; v. 2 )
Widener | WID-LC | DA10 .B754 1995x vol. 2
Documents (Lamont) | Br Doc 6.15 vol. 2
Widener | Harvard Depository | DA10 .B754 1995x vol. 2

Never complain, never explain: records of the Foreign Office and State Paper Office 1500-c.1960, by Louise Atherton. London: PRO Publications, 1994, 189 p.
Widener | Harvard Depository

Personal Papers

Personal Papers of government officials may well not be in the British Library or National Archives. Find them in the National Register of Archives (NRA).  Some of these may also be available on microfilm or online.  Many of Harvard's holdings are listed in this guide.

Obtaining Records

Once you identify a group of records of interest, you can search in HOLLIS to see if Harvard has a microfilm or digital copy.  The digital resources and many of the microfiilm sets are listed in this guide.  If not at Harvard, search in WorldCat and aobtain the microfilm vis Interlibrary Loan.

In searching HOLLIS and WorldCat, use the numberv (e.g., FO 371 for Foreign Office (FO) Political Correspondence) together with words from the title.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. [Original correspondence. Gold Coast, 1928] [London] : National Archives,. 1928. 1 v.

Other Research Guides

African and British newspapers: Guide to Newspapers and Newspaper Indexes
African periodicals: Finding Periodical Articles and Book Reviews on Africa
British periodicals: Finding Articles in General and Popular Periodicals (North America and Western Europe)