1. Why use this guide?
This guide will help you find records at The National Archives relating to the origins, establishment and consequences of the League of Nations.
The League of Nations began life on 10 January 1920, when the Versailles Peace Treaty, signed in 1919 to formally end the First World War, came into effect.
2. How to find League of Nations records at The National Archives
There are thousands of records on the League of Nations at The National Archives.
Search Discovery, our catalogue, with the search term 'league of nations' to find most of these records.
Many government departments dealt with the League of Nations, so you can find records in many parts of The National Archives' collection. Refine your search by government department, for example:
- Cabinet Office (CAB)
- Foreign Office (FO)
- War Office (WO)
- Treasury (T)
- Board of Trade (BT)
Use a variety of search terms to generate more results, for example:
- league of nations
- peace conference
- disarmament conference
- British Empire Delegation
Search the Cabinet Papers website to find digitised records of the Cabinet Office. In particular, explore the website's collection of records relating to the League of Nations.
3. Key records
Key records at The National Archives include:
- FO 371/3439 and CAB 1/26/14: reports of an early British Government plan for a league of nations; FO 371/3439 includes a 'Tentative Draft Convention for a League of Nations', originating from a private organisation in the USA, the League to Enforce Peace
- CAB 29/1-40: British arrangements for the Peace Conference at Versailles
- CAB 21/217: a typescript history of the British Empire Delegation entitled 'The Dominions and the Peace Conference' by Clement Jones
- FO 371/4310: contains the text of the Covenant of the League of Nations - a charter signed in 1919
Some of The National Archives' records seriesa grouping of records held by The National Archives, based on common function or subject may be of particular interest, including:
- FO 608: Peace Conference: British Delegation, correspondence and papers, 1918-1920. This series contains information on the creation of the League of Nations. A card index is available in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew - reference FO 608/1
- FO 371: Foreign Office political correspondence - this is the series containing the most information on the League of Nations. To find out more detail about what the records contain, use the indexes in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew - a card index (for the period 1906-1919) and printed books
- PRO 30/52: League of Nations Assembly and Council documents. Includes papers circulated to the Assembly and Council, and journals (with indexes)
If you want to consult any of these documents, check the ordering and viewing options in our catalogue.
5. Records in other archives
Contact the following organisations if you have enquiries about records they hold relating to the League of Nations:
6. Further reading
You can find a history and description of the organisation of the Foreign Office and its records in The Records of the Foreign Office, 1782-1939, PRO Handbooks No 13 (HMSO, 1969).
Other books of interest:
Samuel Frederick Northedge, The League of Nations: its Life and Times 1920-1946 (Leicester, 1986)
Donald S Birn, The League of Nations Union, 1918-1945 (Oxford, 1981)
George W Egerton, Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations: Strategy, Politics and International Organisation, 1914-1919 (London, 1979)
United Nations Library Geneva, Guide to the Archives of the League of Nations 1919-1946 (Geneva, 1978)
James Avery Joyce, Broken Star: the Story of the League of Nations, 1919-1939 (Swansea, 1978)
George W Baer, Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia and the League of Nations (Stanford, California, 1976)
Frank Hardie, The Abyssinian Crisis (London, 1974)
George Scott, The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations (London, 1973)