Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Central Office - Area Files
These files consist of correspondence, memoranda and papers with and about the Area Offices and Associations.
- Creation: 1949-1969
Language of Materials
Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark e.g. CCO 2/1/1].
Full range of shelfmarks:
Collection ID (for staff)
CPA CCO 2
Area files, consisting of correspondence, memoranda and papers with and about the Area Offices and Associations.
Biographical / Historical
The Conservative Central Office constitutes the main professional element of the Party. Its creation in 1870 marked the emergence of the modern Conservative Party, with a small core staff of professional, full-time employees, initially under the overall control of the Chief Whip but from 1911 a new Chairman of Party Organisation and Party Treasurer. The permanent head of Central Office for most of its existence was the Principal Agent, known from 1931 as the General Director. In 1966 the office of General Director was abolished, and the various departmental directors again became personally answerable to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman.
It is the function of Conservative Central Office 'to guide, inspire and co-ordinate the work of the party throughout the country, to advise and assist Constituency Associations and Area Councils and to provide such services as can best be organised centrally' (Maxwell Fyfe Report on Party Organisation, 1948). To that end it contains a large number of departments and sub-departments, each responsible for one or more aspects of party organisation. In 2004, Conservative Central Office was re-named Conservative Campaign Headquarters. No records of Conservative Central Office survive prior to 1911, and very little prior to the 1930s.
The organisation within Central Office has seen many alterations over the years, and departments and sections have appeared and disappeared in response to changing organisational emphases. Similarly the administrative system of records keeping has undergone a gradual change, as the central filing registry of the inter- and post-war years gave way to a departmentally orientated method of keeping files. This is the second of five series of registry files generated by Central Office which are held in the CPA and contains correspondence and memoranda with and about the party's area organisations.
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: Area Files
- Finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant
- Language of description
- Script of description