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In response to needs brought to light by the Versailles Peace Conference, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) was founded in Britain in 1920 with the mission of researching and preserving information about foreign affairs. Its main objective: "to facilitate the study of international questions and promote the exchange of information," according to its 1926 charter. This objective was to be achieved in part by providing and maintaining a comprehensive library of relevant works.

Headquartered at Chatham House, a historic home in St. James' Square, London, the RIIA has collected thousands of works on international affairs, including political and economic conditions in sovereign states. Included are such important historical documents as British and Foreign State Papers and documents of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice.

The library, a European Documentation Centre, is a depository for United Nations documents and holds extensive collections from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Organization of American States, and other international groups. Economics materials are represented by statistical bulletins, regional and national annuals, as well as texts of economic plans and publications of international and central banks.

Royal Institute of International Affairs Classified Catalogue organizes more than 60 years of research and library acquisitions assembled through an extensive worldwide network. In addition, two annual supplements (1981-1982 and 1983) have been published. Further updates are planned as the library's holdings expand.

A printed guide explains how items are classified and the methodology used. Geographic and subject indexes organize material into these easily accessible subdivisions:

Unit I: International and General Classifications This unit contains eight major subjects. Each division includes titles of general bibliographies, yearbooks, statutes, and statistics.

  • Generalia
  • 1914-1918
  • History (post 1918)
  • Culture and Religion
  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Defense and International Law
  • Administration and Social Questions

Units II-VI: Regional Classifications These sets include information specific to different areas of the world:

  • Unit II--Western World, Europe, Northern Europe
  • Unit III--Eastern Bloc, Communist Bloc
  • Unit IV--Islamic World, Africa
  • Unit V--Asia, Far East
  • Unit VI--Americas, Polar Regions

This collection will be valued by students of international affairs, world economics, politics, and public administration as a unique bibliographic tool to access important works collected over the past 70-plus years.

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