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Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Research Department: Directors' Papers


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Contains the following Directors' papers:
  1. David Clarke
  2. Henry Hopkinson
  3. Percy Cohen
  4. Michael Fraser
  5. Brendon Sewill
  6. James Douglas
  7. Chris Patten
  8. Alan Howarth
  9. Peter Cropper
  10. Robin Harris


  • 1946-1990


22.22 Linear metres (202 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. CRD/D/2/1].
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Collection ID (for staff)



Conservative Research Department: Directors' papers, c.1946-1990.

Biographical / Historical

The Conservative Research Department (CRD) was established in November 1929 and rapidly assumed a position of considerable importance in the Party's policy-making process. It advises Party leaders on the formulation of policy, undertakes detailed, long-term research on a wide range of issues, provides authoritative briefs to MPs in preparation for Parliamentary debates, plays a major role in the writing of Party publications and the vetting of Party publicity, and analyses public opinion trends in order to advise the leadership on electoral strategy. CRD personnel were also responsible for servicing Party committees and policy groups by minute-taking. Consequently the records of the CRD include papers from these various groups and committees.

The CRD played a crucial role in the regeneration of the Party after the defeat of 1945, and again during the period in opposition after 1964, although it was to some extent overshadowed by the think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies in the period of opposition between 1975-1979. By 1980, the CRD had been divided into four sections, which have remained roughly the same since: the Economic Section, Home Affairs Section, Politicial (and Consitutional) Section, and International Section. Although CRD Desk Officers (later known as Subject Specialists) could be expected to change desks during their period of service in order to widen their experience, they would bear primary responsibility for a limited area of policy, which normally corresponded to a Government Department, and would work closely with the relevant Conservative Minister, Shadow Minister or Front Bench spokesman.

Although its importance fluctuates according to the particular concerns of the Party Leader, the CRD has always been, and remains, one of the central departments in Party organisation. Since 1979 the Conservative Research Department has been contained, organisationally and physically, within the Conservative Central Office. Before that, however, it was a separate body, housed separately and, for much of its life, organisationally independent also, with its own chairman and director. For this reason its papers have been catalogued separately from those of Central Office.

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.

Related Materials

For other records relating to the Conservative Research Department, see the following series:-
  1. CRD 1: Papers, c.1929-1940
  2. CRD 2: Papers, 1925-1969
  3. CRD 3: Papers, 1948-1979
  4. CRD 4: Papers, 1974-1987
  5. CRD/L: Desk Officers'/Subject Specialists' Letter Books, c.1930s-1987
  6. CRD/P: Committees of the Parliamentary Party, c.1946-1990
  7. CRD/B: Briefs, 1964-1987
Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Research Department
Finding aid prepared by Jeremy McIlwaine and Liz McCarthy
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom