How to research our history

Below is a list of UK repositories where our records are held and a summary of the type of material available. We don’t physically hold archive material.

Some of these repositories have searchable online catalogues. Please use the links below to find these and information about access to the records.

British Council records are usually made available to the public 30 years after publication.

Please contact us for information about accessing our archives.

List of main archives

The National Archives
This is the main repository of British Council records and an excellent source of information on public and cultural diplomacy activities overseas from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Tate Archive
British Council records relating to visual arts promotion are held here. The archive mainly includes our exhibition files containing correspondence, photographs, catalogues and records relating to our art collection. It also holds Tate Gallery files about loans to us. Please note that some visual arts material is also stored at the National Archives.

British Library Sound Archive
The National Sound Archive is the specialist repository for all audio media records and oral history and holds the work of the British Council Recordings Unit from the 1940s onwards. It is the designated repository for a current oral history project.

British Film Institute
The British Film Institute houses the British Film Archive and holds films produced and sponsored by the British Council.

Other archives

Below are some other UK institutions that hold British Council records or material that relates to us:

Reading University Special Collections
A collection of handwritten letters to and from notable British authors is held here.

University of Warwick: Modern Records Centre 
This centre holds papers and records created by the British Council Staff Association and Trade Union Side.

Churchill Archives Centre
Correspondence of former Chairman (1942 to 1945), Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Robertson, and the Sir Winston Churchill Papers are held here.

Please contact us for information about access to archive material under 30 years old, or if you have any questions about our history.