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Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Central Office - Publicity/Communications Department


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The papers of the Publicity/Communications Department, comprising:

  1. Director of Publicity
  2. Broadcasting
  3. Campaigning and Publicity
  4. Party Conference and Events
  5. Committees and Working Groups
  6. Officers' Papers
  7. Library and Information Section
  8. Publications


  • Creation: 1894; 1927-2010


9.96 Linear metres (146 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

General access conditions apply to this material.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. CCO 600/1/1].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

CCO 600/1-3; CCO 600/5-26

Collection ID (for staff)



Archive of the Publicity/Communications Department, 1894-2010.

Biographical / Historical

The activities of Conservative Central Office (CCO) have historically been grouped into two main departments: the Organisation Department (see CCO 500) and the Publicity Department. The latter was responsible for the production and widespread dissemination of publicity materials and propaganda such as elections posters and leaflets, as well as facilitating relations with the media.

The first Press Adviser was appointed by CCO in 1910 and a Press Bureau established in 1911. The Party's first Director of Publicity, Joseph Ball, was appointed in 1927, during the chairmanship of JCC Davidson (1926-1930). Following a review of the Party organisation undertaken by Deputy Party Chairman Lord Stanley, this post was created to reduce the workload of the Principal Agent (from 1931, the General Director), the head of CCO, and was of equal status to him. Davidson was the first to employ advertising agencies to help present the Party's message, using first the Holford-Bottomley Advertising Service, JH Benson's, and also Press Secretaries Ltd, during the inter-war years.

The Publicity Department has undergone several name changes over time, becoming known as the Press and Communications Department in the early-mid 1980s, the Communications Department by at least 1989, and the Department of Political Operations in 1997. Since then, Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), CCO's successor, has re-organised the publicity and communications team multiple times.

The title Director of Publicity was used interchangeably with Chief Publicity Officer until the mid-1960s. When the post of General Director was abolished in 1966, the positions of Chief Organisation Officer and Chief Publicity Officer were re-named Director of Organisation and Director of Publicity respectively.

The Director of Publicity was traditionally assisted by a Deputy, but the increasing importance of communications to the Party saw the creation of 3 Deputy Directors by the early 1970s covering Broadcasting, Press and Publicity, and Publications.

Custodial History

The Conservative Party Archive (CPA) 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 and financial responsibility for the CPA has been vested in the Conservative Party Archive Trust. The CPA preserves the records of all three areas of Party organisation: parliamentary, voluntary and professional. It is recognised by the Conservative Party as the official repository for its historic records and those of affiliated organisations, and receives new material on a regular basis.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Conservative Party.

Conservative Party Archive: Publicity/Communications Department
Finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant. Expanded by Abigail Spokes in 2024.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom