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Conservative Party Archive: National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations


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Papers include rules and standing orders (including correspondence), papers relating the the annual conference (including minutes, speeches, handbooks and administrative papers), minutes and reports of Central Council and the Executive Committee, officers' papers, minutes and reports of the General Purposes Committee, standing committees and ad hoc sub-committees.


  • Creation: 1867-2019


24.1 Linear metres (151 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

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

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Full range of shelfmarks:

NUA 1-8

Collection ID (for staff)



Papers of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, 1867-2019, including papers relating to the Annual Party Conference.

Biographical / Historical

The National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations (NUA) was established in 1867. Originally known as the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, it changed its name to the National Unionist Association of Conservative and Liberal-Unionist Organisations following the fusion of the Conservatives with the Liberal Unionists in 1912. In October 1924, it changed its name again to the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations.

It was designed originally as a means of organising the newly enfranchised working-class men in the boroughs, and was just one of a number of similar organisations and movements. Initially overshadowed by the Metropolitan Conservative Alliance and the Central Conservative Registration Association, the National Union was intended to be a federation of the many new Conservative Working Men's Associations which had sprung up since the franchise was extended by the 1867 Reform Act. It subsequently benefited greatly from being accommodated within Conservative Central Office in 1872, and the two thereafter worked closely together.

The number of Conservative associations affiliated to the National Union grew rapidly, from 289 in 1871 to 472 in 1875, and it eventually became a federation of all constituency associations, bringing together the rank and file of the Party in a national organisation. Representatives of the constituencies met at area and national level, and a system of advisory committees was used to convey grass roots opinion to the Party leadership. The National Union existed to express opinion and support and, as such, could exert a degree of influence on the Leader and over Party policy. It did not, however, possess any mandatory powers. The National Union was responsible for organising the annual Party Conference until 1993 when the responsibility was delegated to Central Office.

Following changes to the structure and organisation of the Party in March 1998, the National Union passed a resolution to suspend its activities. It was succeeded by the National Conservative Convention.


The papers of the NUA are arranged into 8 sections: 1. Rules and standing orders, 1867-1998; 2. Annual Conference, 1867-2019; 3. Central Council, 1899-2011; 4. Executive Committee, 1897-2000; 5. General Purposes Committee, 1940-1998; 6. Sub-Committees, 1909-1992 ; 7. General Memoranda and Correspondence, 1948-1960; 8. Standing Advisory Committee on Candidates, 1935-1993.

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

Conservative Party Archive.

Related Materials

The papers of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations form part of the voluntary wing of the Conservative Party. For other papers relating to this aspect of Party organisation, see:

  1. CPA ARE: Area Offices
  2. CPA CCO 1: Conservative Central Office - Constituency Correspondence
  3. CPA CCO 2: Conservative Central Office - Area Files
  4. CPA CCO 509: Conservative Central Office - Constituency and Area Agents
  5. CPA LCA: Local Conservative Associations
Conservative Party Archive: National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations
Original finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant. Expanded by Annaliese Griffiss in 2020.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom