Commonwealth in Focus Slides

Scope and Content

Collection of 35mm colour slides of countries of the Commonwealth. When the 'Commonwealth in Focus' exhibition was being prepared it was felt that the strong emphasis on the historical aspect, and the fact that the only section on the contemporary Commonwealth dealt with broad issues and organisations rather than individual countries, made some additional material on contemporary developments desirable. Accordingly it was decided to have a continuous slide projection of contemporary activities in Commonwealth countries at the exhibition, and letters were sent to Commonwealth High Commissions on 22 January 1982 requesting material for this purpose, as well as photographs for the main collection. The response was disappointing; only four countries, New Zealand, Australia, Trinidad and Singapore supplied slides, and the reply on photographs was also poor. Jane Soutter of the Public Affairs Department visited High Commissions to borrow material, but found many gaps, even when these sources were supplemented by tourist offices. Accordingly, the Compix collection at the Commonwealth Institute was heavily drawn on. It still proved very difficult to provide an adequate picture of current developments in Commonwealth countries; for example, we were able to find only one photograph of industrial development in India, the remainder of the slides sustaining the romantic tourist image of the sub-continent.
All slides borrowed were copied, and a complete set of 194 sent to the exhibition in September 1982. In most cases, a second copy was taken and retained in the Library, where it is still held; the fate of the set sent to Brisbane is not known. The following lists this set, but for various reasons not all slides were duplicated and those marked with an asterisk are not in the RCS collection. Captions are copied from the mounts, but not all the slides were identified.
The origin of these photographs is as follows:
1-4 From the photographs taken by Lord Snowdon for Inchcape
5-16 New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs
44-49 Papua New Guinea High Commission
58-64 James Foster of the Society's Kenya Branch
71-78 Barbados High Commission
79-84 Trinidad High Commission
88-95 Ministry of Culture, Singapore
96-103 Malaysian High Commission
105-112 Malta Tourist Office
113-124 Australian Information Service
125-135 Canadian High Commission
136-143 Nigerian High Commission
154-6 and 158 Zambian High Commission
157 and 159 RCS stock
161-172 Indian Tourist Office
181-184 Dr Hamilton of Dominica
188-194 Unknown
The remainder were copied from originals in Compix.

Access Information

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


Includes index.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Alternative Form Available

For copies of the images at Y3011GGG/88-95, see Y30311E.

For copies of the images at Y3011GGG/5-16, see Y30311I.

Additional Information


Royal Commonwealth Society