National Archives
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Cabinet Papers, 1915-1977

The National Archives offers unprecedented access to more than 60 years worth of Cabinet papers with the launch of a ground-breaking website, revealing how British governments of the past made some of the seminal decisions of the 20th century.

More than half a million pages of key government papers, taking readers from the First World War to the welfare state, are available to search and download for free at

This extraordinary project, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) digitisation programme, opens up a vast amount of information to people around the world.

'While we have created some fantastic resources for students, we hope the tools will help to open up the files to everyone with an interest in British history and politics,' said Edward Hampshire, a contemporary records expert at The National Archives. 'After all, this is recent history, and many of us will have lived through, and been affected by, the momentous issues and decisions in these records.'

Users will be able to search the entire collection by key word; while the documents are supported by a host of innovative teaching aids, including interactive maps and images, aiding in their understanding and interpretation. The website is an especially rich resource for students, covering more than 100 topics which form an integral part of A level examination syllabuses and university programmes.

JISC digitisation programme manager, Paola Marchionni, commented that 'learners are able to access the information when they want it, how they want it and see the documents as they were originally created - including Churchill's cigar ashes.'

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