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Documents on British Policy Overseas (DBPO): What's New

Documents on Britiish Policy Overseas Migration

ProQuest's Documents on British Policy Overseas will move to the ProQuest platform in Summer 2017. While the legacy version of this database will be available to access up to January 2108, you can use the new version immediately. Information on searching through the ProQuest Platform is available in this guide.

Frequent users may also want to watch  this page and sign up for updates as the product completes its move.

What's New? -- June 2017

European Recovery and the Search for Western Security 1946-48 (Documents on British Policy Overseas Series 1, Volume XI) has been added to the collection

This volume documents the British Government's response from mid-1946 to early 1948 to the twin challenges of economic recovery and the search for a meaningful Western security framework in the face of the increasing polarisation of Europe into Eastern and Western spheres of influence.

Although relations between the wartime Big Three allies, the UK, US and USSR, had begun to fracture even before the end of hostilities in 1945, it was during 1947 that the postwar division of Europe became sufficiently alarming to prompt decisive action, under American and British leadership, to promote European economic reconstruction and thereby increase Western security. American leadership took the form of two initiatives, enabled by US economic and military strength: the Truman Doctrine for aid to Greece and Turkey, announced in March 1947, and the Economic Recovery Programme or Marshall Plan, first proposed in June 1947. British leadership, under the personal direction of Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, was shown in two ways: in articulating Western Europe's need for US help in a way that enabled it to be recognised and then accepted; and in helping to coordinate the European response to the US initiatives to maximise their effectiveness. Documentation on the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan forms the core of the volume, but a wide range of material, including intelligence-related documents, has been chosen to illustrate the multiple challenges faced by the Attlee Government during this period.

April 2017

The Challenge of Apartheid: UK-South African Relations, 1985-1986 (Documents on British Policy Overseas Series 3 Volume IX) has been added to the collection.

The crisis of apartheid that began in 1984 provoked international outrage on an unprecedented scale. This volume documents the attempt by the British Government to formulate a response that would go some way towards meeting demands for action on the part of critics of South Africa in the Commonwealth, the United States and the European Community as well as in the United Kingdom itself, without at the same time inflicting unacceptable damage on Britain's significant economic interests in South Africa. It was a process marked by frequent disagreements between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under Sir Geoffrey Howe. The volume begins with reports of the deepening crisis at the beginning of 1985 and concludes with the Commonwealth Review Meeting in August 1986, one of the lowest of many low points in relations between the British Government and the critics of apartheid. In South Africa, meanwhile, there seemed little hope of progress following the imposition of a national state of emergency, as the confrontation between the Government and its opponents headed for deadlock and the power of the 'securocrats' surrounding President Botha became steadily more entrenched. This volume gives a flavour of what it was like to be a British diplomat working for change at that time.

February 2015

The Brussels and North Atlantic Treaties, 1947-1949 (Documents on British Policy Overseas Series I Volume X) has been added to the collection.

This volume documents the drafting, negotiation and signature of the treaty that has been the cornerstone of European defence for the past sixty-five years: the North Atlantic Treaty signed in April 1949. The story begins at the end of 1947, when the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, became convinced of the need to persuade the United States of America, which had emerged from the Second World War as the pre-eminent global military and economic power and one of the only two superpowers, to underwrite the future security of Western Europe. It progresses through the negotiation of the Brussels Treaty of March 1948 - an essential prerequisite to securing American participation in a wider defensive system - and ends with the signature of the North Atlantic Treaty after a series of setbacks, difficulties and security threats.

October 2012

The Invasion of Afghanistan and UK-Soviet Relations, 1979-1982 (Documents on British Policy Overseas Series III Volume VIII) has been added to the collection.

This volume examines British policy towards the Soviet Union in a period dominated by the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 and the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981. The British government faced a dilemma: namely, how to express strong disapproval of Soviet actions while still attempting to maintain a constructive bilateral relationship and at the same time to keep British policy in line with the Western Alliance. The consistent aim during this period was to maintain Western unity and impress on the Soviets that stable and productive East-West relations were only possible on the basis of political and military restraint.

The volume features 177 documents dating from December 1979 to December 1982. The documents from 1981 and 1982 were published in this volume in advance of their normal 30-year release into the public domain. The majority of documents are from the archives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the volume also draws on records of the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister's Office.

This release also sees the addition of a collection of diplomatic documents on the outbreak of the First World War. This was not published as part of the FCO series, but is being made available within the Documents on British Policy Overseas database to complement the British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914 collection. The volume consists of the collected, translated documents published by the European powers after the start of the war, originally published as a British parliamentary paper (Cd. 7860) in 1915. It reproduces some of the British documents already featured in British Documents on the Origins of the War Volume XI, but presents these together with the French, Russian, Belgian, Serbian, German and Austro-Hungarian documents, providing a fuller picture of the diplomatic correspondence amongst the European powers on the eve of war. The volume has been fully keyed to the same specifications as the other volumes in the Documents on British Policy Overseas database. Records are included in search results and the full volume can be found under 'Additional Material' on the Browse by Collection screen.

September 2011

The Nordic Countries: From War to Cold War, 1944-1951 (Documents on British Policy Overseas Series I Volume IX) has been added to the collection.

This volume documents the United Kingdom's relationship with the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden) from the closing stages of the Second World War through the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty and the first years of the Cold War. The Nordic countries had different experiences of war, with Sweden remaining neutral throughout, Norway and Denmark occupied by Germany, Iceland accepting British and American bases, and Finland fighting first the Soviet Union and later Germany. As the Cold War developed, Norway, Denmark and Iceland joined NATO, with Sweden neutral and Finland signing a treaty of friendship and co-operation with the Soviet Union, although remaining non-Communist and outside the Warsaw Pact. The 217 selected documents primarily cover political and economic issues, as well as some chosen to provide background to the atmosphere and range of activities in which Ministers and diplomats operated.

November 2010

Two new volumes, Berlin in the Cold War, 1948-1990 and German Unification, 1989-1990, have been added to the collection.

Berlin in the Cold War, 1948-1990 (Series III, Volume VI) covers three separate episodes in the Cold War: the crises of 1948-49, 1959-61 and 1988-90. In the first, the Soviet Union withdrew from the Allied Control Commission for Germany and attempted to restrict travel to the Western sectors of Berlin. The Allies responded with an airlift to West Berlin which eventually resulted in the lifting of the blockade. In the second crisis, the flow of refugees from East Germany to West Berlin led to the Soviet Union calling for an end to the occupation of Berlin, and in 1961 erecting the Berlin Wall. The third crisis of 1988-90 resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Berlin. The diplomatic documents cover the British reactions to these critical events regarding Berlin and its quadripartite administration. The volume highlights Berlin's symbolic role during the Cold War and the continuity of British policy over that period. It was originally published with the 509 documents on an accompanying DVD; all of these scanned documents have been rekeyed for inclusion in DBPO and are fully searchable in the same way as documents from previous volumes, with links to the scanned images.

German Unification, 1989-1990 (Series III, Volume VII) documents official British reactions to the collapse of the German Democratic Republic and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the evolution of British policy during the 'Two plus Four' negotiations that provided the international framework for the merger of the two German states. Most of these documents are drawn from the archives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but there are also a large number of Prime Ministerial files from the Cabinet Office archives. These are of particular interest for the light they throw on the views of Margaret Thatcher. Taken together, the 244 documents in this volume show that despite Mrs Thatcher's well-known reservations about German unity, the UK played a vital and constructive role in the negotiations that helped to bring it about.

All of the documents in these volumes dealing with the events of 1989-90 fall within the UK's 30-year rule and have therefore not previously been in the public domain.

November 2009

The Year of Europe: America, Europe and the Energy Crisis, 1972-74 (volume 4 of Documents on British Policy Overseas series 3) has been added to the collection.

The Year of Europe covers Britain's foreign relations between the Paris summit of EC Heads of State and Government of 19-20 October 1972 and the Washington Energy Conference of 11-12 February 1974. It focuses on the relations between Britain, its European allies, and the United States and how these were affected by British membership of the European Community (Britain became a full member on 1 January 1973), the outbreak of war in the Middle East and the ensuing energy crisis. The title comes from a phrase used by the Nixon administration, designating 1973 as 'the year of Europe' with a renewed focus on America's European allies, after a long period in which attention had been concentrated on war in Vietnam and relationships with the Soviet Union and China.

Unlike previous volumes, The Year of Europe was originally published with only introductory material and summary information in print and the documents themselves were provided as scanned images on a CD-ROM. However, all of these scanned documents have been rekeyed for inclusion in DBPO and are fully searchable in the same way as documents from previous volumes. Additionally, there is a link from the keyed text of each document in this volume to the scanned image of the original document.

October 2008

This release of Documents on British Policy Overseas significantly grows the collection, by adding a further 81 volumes of material from the print collections Documents on British Foreign Policy and Documents on British Policy Overseas.

This builds upon the 13 volumes of British Documents on the Origins of the War and extends coverage from the end of the First World War to the late twentieth century. The collections now included in this database are:

  • British Documents on the Origins of the War (1898-1914)
  • Documents on British Foreign Policy (1918-1939)
  • Documents on British Policy Overseas (1946-)

As these three can be seen to form a single, continuous history of British peace-time diplomacy in the twentieth century, it was decided that this database should take its name from the most recent and ongoing collection, hence Documents on British Policy Overseas. Whilst the first two are complete, the Documents on British Policy Overseas collection is an ongoing endeavour and new content will continue to be added to the database.

All documents that have been included in these three collections have been re-keyed and made fully searchable within the database. In addition, selected items in Documents on British Policy Overseas contain links to secondary documents which have been scanned and are displayed as facsimile images.