Oxford reseachers now have access to Central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan, 1834-1922: From Silk Road to Soviet Rule (Archives Unbound).
‘This collection of documents sheds a remarkable light on British and Anglo-Indian foreign policy and intelligence across the Persianate world – Russian Central Asia, Qajar Persia and Afghanistan. It contains a wealth of diplomatic correspondence and memoranda – much of it intercepted from Britain’s rivals and neighbours in the region – which include much ethnographic, religious and cultural material alongside the purely political. It will be an essential resource for scholars and students alike.’ Dr Alexander Morrison, University of Oxford.
From Adam Matthew Digital:
“This collection of Foreign Office files explores the history of Persia (Iran), Central Asia and Afghanistan from the decline of the Silk Road in the first half of the nineteenth century to the establishment of Soviet rule over parts of the region in the early 1920s. It encompasses the era of “The Great Game” – a political and diplomatic confrontation between the Russian and British Empires for influence, territory and trade across a vast region, from the Black Sea in the west to the Pamir Mountains in the east.”
Included in the resource “are 188 volumes from FO 65 and all 11 volumes of FO 106, comprising original correspondence, drafts and enclosures which detail ‘Proceedings in Central Asia’ from 1858 to 1905; 30 volumes of general correspondence relating to Central Asia from FO 371, dated 1920-1922; and 118 Confidential Print files for Central Asia from the FO 539 series, covering 1820-1971. Maps previously included in these volumes and extracted to form part of the MFQ, MPK and MPKK series are also made available here.”
“The collection begins with materials relating to Britain and Russia’s relations with regional powers in the 1830s, and continues with volumes which can be used to explore the Anglo-Afghan Wars, conflicts between Russia and its neighbours to the south, the construction of strategic infrastructure, border disputes and confrontations including the Panjdeh Crisis, and continued competition between Britain and Russia for influence and territory into the early twentieth century, ending with documents which describe fears of Communist subversion in British India and growing Soviet influence over the governments of Afghanistan and Persia.”The Foreign Office files contain:
- Intelligence Reports and Agents’ Diaries
- Newspaper clippings, and translations of Russian-language articles
- Maps and plans
- Government reports and memoranda
- Copies of treaties and agreements
- Photographs, sketches, and landscapes.
The documents are mostly in English though some French items are included. You can search and browse in various ways. Some documents are digitised manuscripts.
While you are here, you might also be interested in:
- Confidential Prints resources: From the 1820s papers of significance began to be distributed to officials in the Foreign Office, Cabinet and other departments as Confidential Print. The practice grew until the 1850s when nearly every important dispatch or telegram was routinely printed.
- Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1947-1980
- Documents on British Policy Overseas – includes declassified FO documents covering 1898-1990.
- U.K. Parliamentary Papers (ProQuest) – contains report, papers, legislation and debates relating to foreign affairs.
- The National Archives’ Research guides for collections relating to British foreign affairs