How to look for records of... Political history in the 20th century
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to help you find records of 20th century political history. The National Archives holds many records for this period, including the correspondence and minutes of major government departments, such as the Home Office, the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s Office. We also hold the papers of successive Prime Ministers from 1916.
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
The transfer of records from government departments to The National Archives is governed by the 30 year rule (Public Records Act 1958, s3.4). Under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000, most records are open for research from the time they are transferred here. The rest are closed because FOI exemptions apply, but will be reviewed on request. You can request a review using a link from our catalogue. More information about FOI is available on our website.
The office of the Prime Minister did not exist officially until 1905. The title was not mentioned in the text of any Act of Parliament until the Ministers of the Crown Act 1937.
The National Archives holds the official papers of successive Prime Ministers from 1916 (beginning with David Lloyd George). We also hold some private papers relating to Prime Ministers and their staff both before and after 1916.