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Overview

The Political Correspondence Files are the central archive of documentation created by the British Foreign Office (BFO), Great Britain's equivalent of the U.S. State Department. Together with the Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, they offer researchers an unsurpassed look at world affairs in the early to mid-20th century. As the information hub of British foreign policy, the BFO was both the collection and the dissemination point for information generated by London and the diplomatic posts, as well as by other government ministries. The Political Correspondence Files were the repository for these documents. Letters and telegrams traveled between the BFO and the diplomatic posts, along with instructions from London and dispatches from the posts. The BFO originated many documents, such as minutes of meetings, reports, and correspondence with other government ministries and foreign government embassies in London. The BFO also received documents such as minutes of meetings, reports, telegrams, and correspondence from the War Office, the Admiralty, the India Office, and the Colonial Office. The Political Correspondence Files also contain cabinet papers and parliamentary debates dealing with foreign policy. The administrative policies of the British government in Palestine affected British relations with many countries and influential groups in Europe and America. For example, the number of Jews allowed to legally immigrate to Palestine each year was fraught with foreign policy issues. The Arab states and populations opposed any Jewish immigration, while Zionist groups demanded large-scale immigration. The British Foreign Office studied, deliberated, and recommended policy to the British government on these issues. In addition, the problem of illegal immigration, arms shipments, plans for partition, the decision to terminate the mandate, and involvement by the United States and the United Nations were all issues that were primarily handled by the Foreign Office.

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