The Confidential Print series, issued by the British Government between c. 1820 and 1970, is a fundamental building block for political, social and economic research.
The series originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These range from single-page letters or telegrams to comprehensive dispatches, investigative reports and texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet and to heads of British missions abroad.
The documents in Confidential Print: Africa begin with coastal trading in the early nineteenth century and the Conference of Berlin of 1884 and the subsequent Scramble for Africa. They then follow the abuses of the Congo Free State, fights against tropical disease, Italy’s defeat by the Abyssinians, World War II, apartheid in South Africa and colonial moves towards independence. Together they cover the whole of the modern period of European colonisation of the continent from the British Government’s perspective.