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Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Central Office - Chief Publicity Officer/Director of Publicity


  • How to

The papers of the Director of Information Services/Chief Publicity Officer/Director of Publicity date back to 1947 and include the minutes of the Tactical Committee (1947-51), the precursor of the Liaison Committee and Policy and Methods Committee. The majority of these records are from the 1960s, although the minute books of the National Advisory Committee on Publicity and Speakers date from 1951-66.


  • Creation: 1928-1977


8.56 Linear metres (55 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

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 1/1-4, 2/1-5, 3/1-3, 3/2/1-4, 3/3/1-21, 3/4/1-14, 3/5/1, 3/6/1, 3/7/1-9, 3/8/1-4, 3/9/1-8, 3/10/1-15, 3/11/1-10, 5/1-5, 6/1, 7/1-13, 8/1-4, 9/1, 10/1, 11/1-6, 12/1-9, 13/1-10, 14/1-33, 15/1-15, 16/1-8, 17/1-16, 23/1, 23/3-13

Collection ID (for staff)



Papers of the Chief Publicity Officer and Director of Publicity, 1945-77

Biographical / Historical

One of the primary functions of the Publicity Department was the production and dissemination of publicity materials such as election posters and leaflets, on a massive scale.

The first Press Adviser was appointed by Conservative Central Office in 1910 and a Press Bureau was established in 1911, while the Party’s first Director of Publicity, Joseph Ball, was appointed in 1927, during the chairmanship of JCC Davidson (1926-1930). Davidson’s memoirs record that, ‘The first job on which I set my mind was to apply the lessons of the Great War to the organisation of political warfare’ [p. 337, Memoirs of a Conservative: JCC Davidson’s Memoirs and Papers 1920-1937 (ed. R. Rhodes James, London, 1969)]. 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.

More commonly described as the Chief Publicity Officer, the post was created following a review of the Party organisation undertaken by Deputy Party Chairman Lord Stanley in 1927, in order to reduce some of the workload of the Principal Agent (from 1931, the General Director), the head of Conservative Central Office, and was of equal status to him. 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 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.

The Deputy Director (Broadcasting) was ‘the executive in charge of all matters relating to sound and television broadcasting…[and] the Party’s prime link with the broadcasting authorities’, and as well as being in charge of operation of the Party’s own studios as Central Office was also responsible for the preparation of Party Political Broadcasts [Source: Memorandum concerning the role of the Director of Publicity by Donald Harker, Director of Publicity, 30/03/1976: shelfmark: CCO 20/7/26].

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: Chief Publicity Officer/Director of Publicity
Finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom