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Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Central Office - Party Chairman's Office


  • How to

The earliest papers in the collection date from 1940 and consist of miscellaneous correspondence with senior Party politicians. The Chairman was, and is, concerned with almost every aspect of Party organisation, strategy, publicity and, to a lesser extent, policy. There are, therefore, continuing series of correspondence with the Party Leader, other senior Party politicians and the deputy and vice-chairmen. The minutes of the Policy Initiatives and Methods/Tactical Committee are to be found here, as are those of the Chairman's own weekly meeting with departmental heads dating from 1966. There are interesting files on general elections, Party publicity, Party finance, local government, Europe, marginal seats, by-elections and public opinion research.


  • Creation: 1940-1993


1905 shelfmarks

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted access. Readers wishing to consult and reproduce material from the Chairman's Office of any date must obtain permission from Conservative Campaign Headquarters. Contact the Archivist for further details.

Please note: as and when a request for permission to access a file from this series is received, it is re-catalogued in more detail in order to provide Conservative Campaign Headquarters with sufficient information on its contents to determine whether it can be de-restricted. The resulting revised catalogue description will be added to the online catalogue shortly afterwards. It is intended that retrospective re-cataloguing of all the files shown here will take place in due course.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. CCO 20/1/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

CCO 20/1-78

Collection ID (for staff)



Papers of the Chairman of the Conservative Party, 1940-1992

Biographical / Historical

The chairmanship is a central post within the Party organisation, and the Chairman wields considerable authority. The office of the Chairman was created in 1911. Prior to this, Central Office had been managed by a Principal agent under the supervision of the Chief Whip. The first incumbent, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, established the tradition that the post was one of cabinet or near-cabinet rank.

Early Chairmen tended to take their papers with them upon relinquishing the post.

Custodial History

The archive of the Conservative Party was established as a source for academic study at the Bodleian Library in 1978 by an agreement made between the University of Oxford and the Conservative Party, and brought together surviving historic papers of the Party previously held in various locations including Newcastle University Library and the former Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, London. Since 1996, ownership of the archive has been vested in the Conservative Party Archive Trust. The archive includes records from all three areas of Party organisation: parliamentary, voluntary and professional.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Conservative Party.

Conservative Party Archive: Party Chairman's Office
Emily Tarrant
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in: English, Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom