In 1995 the FCO transferred the collection to the University of Leicester, where it was housed until 2021 and where its cataloguing was made possible by funding from the Group on Diplomacy of the British International Studies Association and from the then head of the University of Leicester’s Department of Politics, Professor John Young.
A second accession was made to the collection by the FCO in 2009. In 2020, following discussions between the University of Leicester, the FCDO and King’s College London, it was agreed that the collection should be transferred to King’s to join the bulk of the FCDO Historical Collection and this transfer was made in 2021.
The collection was amassed following a standing instruction to British diplomatic and consular missions to send to London one copy of the local diplomatic list as soon as it had been superseded by a new edition. It comprises published diplomatic lists and associated material, contained within 217 numbered boxes. The boxes are arranged alphabetically by country of mission.
Catalogue to the collection
Detailed handlists to accompany the collection are available below. These handlists provide a comprehensive index to the contents of each box and follow an alphabetic sequence (for example, in the lists for 'A', you will find lists relating to Argentina, Australia etc).
The summary catalogue record is available through King's Library Search:
Before visiting to consult the listed items, please contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure we can have the items ready for you.
Using the collection in your research
Despite some gaps in coverage, the diplomatic list collection is a valuable resource for historians of diplomacy. The precise details of the staff of particular missions at particular times provide a good starting point in a search for relevant memoirs and private papers.
More broadly, the lists can be used to trace trends in the history of diplomacy; for example, when compared over time the lists can reveal shifts in the emphasis of the work of missions, the rise of new diplomatic institutions, changes in the importance attached to service attachés (which can be deduced from the size of the defence sections of embassies and the ranks of those attached to them) and so on. The collection is also of value to family historians tracing family members who have worked for their country’s diplomatic service.