Royal Institute of International Affairs, Far East Department Collection

Scope and Content

This collection of comprises: research papers compiled by the Far East Department of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). The papers include embassy handouts, conference papers, correspondence, reports and speeches, covering the period 1920-1968. They address political and economic issues in states in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania; as well as United States and British government policies in these regions.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (also known as Chatham House) is an independent research and membership organisation working to promote the understanding of key international issues. The Institute promotes debate and research through meetings, conferences and publications. The British Institute of International Affairs (1920-1926), emerged out of 1919 Paris Peace Conference, along with its sister organisation, the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. The Institute was renamed as the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1926. The Institute developed a programme of meetings, research, study groups, conferences and publications, and has a specialist Library and Information Service. It is a privately-funded membership organisation, frequently known as Chatham House from the name of its building in St James's Square. The 'Chatham House Rule', which is used around the world to allow for free speech and confidentiality at meetings, originated with the Royal Institute. The Institute is funded through grants, donations, membership subscriptions and revenue from the Institute's trading subsidiary, Chatham House Enterprises Ltd. The Institute has a presence in the United States of America, where the Chatham House Foundation works to promote Anglo-American relations.


Papers have been grouped according to subject matter: China, political (1920-1963); China, economic (1937-1953); India, political (1940-1962); India, economic (1940-1957); Ceylon [Sri Lanka] (1945-1959); Pakistan (1949-1959); Malaya [Malaysia], political (1940-1962); Malaya [Malaysia], economic (1945-1954); Japan, economic (1946-1959); Japan, political (1929-1961); Korea (1938-1961); Philippines, political (1945-1960); Economic Development, Far East and S. E. Asia (1949-1958); North Borneo; Brunei; Sarawak; Labuan; Fiji; Gilbert and Ellice Islands; Guam; Samoa; General (1936-1968); Indonesia, political (1939-1953); Indonesia, economic (1935-1959); Formosa [Taiwan]; (1946-1960); Thailand (1948-1960); Kashmir (1946-1962); Burma (1943-1960); Indo-China, general (1952-1961); Indo-China/Vietnam, political (1940-1956); US policy in the Far East (1938-1951); and British Policy in the Far East and South East Asia (1943-1950).

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library in 1964.

Related Material

Related collections at SOAS: Powell, Ifor Ball [ref. PP MS 26]; Furnivall, John Sydenham [ref. PP MS 23]; and Pratt, John Thomas [ref. PP MS 5].

Associated Material held elsewhere: The archives (1920-) of the Royal Institute of International Affairs are kept at Chatham House [ref. RIIA]. They consist of records of Royal Institute from its foundation, including correspondence and texts of off-the-record meetings held at the Institute; unpublished material from research and meetings department of the Institute. There is a 30 year closure on all the archives at Chatham House; archives dealing with purely internal Royal Institute affairs are closed indefinitely.

The papers of Lionel Curtis (1906-1960) held at Oxford University contain papers relating to the Royal Institute of International Affairs: Bodleian Library, Department of Western Manuscripts [ref. MSS Curtis; Eng hist b 224, c 776-877]; Miscellaneous papers including some records of the Foreign Research and Press Service (1936-1961) held at Imperial War Museum Department of Documents [ref. Webster]; Minutes and papers of the Committee on Reconstruction (1945) held at Cambridge University: Churchill Archives Centre [ref. 2/4/12]; Records (c 1920-1994) held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs [ref. Cook & Waller, Sources in contemporary British history, vol 1, 1994].