Newly available as a free Open Access edition: September 2020

Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in the National Archives of the UK, by Mandy Banton

Cover for Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in the National Archives of the UK

Mandy Banton's popular guide to colonial and Commonwealth records at The National Archives (new edition, 2015) is now available as a free Open Access edition.

Administering the Empire, 1801-1968 is an indispensable introduction to British colonial rule during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It provides an essential guide to the records of the British Colonial Office, and those of other departments responsible for colonial administration, which are now held in The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

As a user-friendly archival guide, Administering the Empire explains the organisation of these records, the information they provide, and how best to explore them using contemporary finding aids. The book also outlines the expansion of the British empire from the early nineteenth century, and discusses the structure of colonial governments. First published in 2008, and updated and revised in 2015, Administering the Empire is available from 2020 both in print and online as an open access edition, reissued by the Institute of Historical Research and University of London Press.


Dr Mandy Banton is a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and a former Principal Records Specialist (Diplomatic and Colonial) at The National Archives, UK.

Published by University of London Press for the IHR and The National Archives

419 pp. Second edition (2015), available from September 2020 in print and as free Open Access download

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Table of contents

1. The British empire

2. Colonial government structure and relations with London

3. Records of colonial governments

4. Administration of British colonial affairs before 1801: the organisation in London

5. Administration of the colonies from 1801

6. The records of the Colonial Office

7. Records of the Dominions Office and Commonwealth Relations Office

8. Records of the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

9. Private papers and private office papers relating to colonial affairs

10. Maps and plans

11. Photographs

12. Records of other government departments

Appendices, 1-9