Refugee Council

Scope and Content

Papers of the Refugee Council relating to all aspects of refugee history, policy and practice, both in the UK and worldwide, from the 1950s to the time of writing. The collection comprises published books and journals, published and unpublished articles and reports; conference papers; pamphlets and leaflets; newsletters, research papers including interviews, questionnaires and case studies; field reports; working papers; statistical data; press cuttings; bibliographies and audio-visual resources including videos, DVDs, tapes, CDs, multi media CD-ROMs, photographs and slides. Topics include conditions in the countries of origin of refugees; causes of flight; migration; asylum; assistance and relief programmes; adaptation and integration of refugees into new communities; groups including ethnic groups, religious groups, gender groups, age groups, social class and family; and organisations including intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Refugee Council is the UK's largest organisation working for refugees and asylum seekers. It offers direct support, alongside capacity-building amongst community groups, undertaking international work, and campaigning, lobbying and researching in a bid to influence public policy in the area.

The Council was formed in 1981 through the merger of the British Council for Aid to Refugees (BCAR), and the Standing Conference on Refugees (SCOR), both of which had been established in 1951, following the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. After the merger it was originally known as the British Refugee Council and was later renamed the Refugee Council due to the establishment of various other regional refugee councils. The Refugee Council became a membership organisation in 1983.


In coordination with the Refugee Studies Centre based in Queen Elizabeth House at the University of Oxford, the Refugee Council Archive uses a classification scheme initially created by the Refugee Council. This was established solely for the cataloguing of refugee-related materials and the scheme covers most geographical regions and countries. Archival materials are indexed using terms taken from the International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology produced by the UNHCR and available online . Major sections of the Archive are organised under topics including country of origin conditions; causes of flight; migration; asylum; assistance; adaptation; special groups and organisations. Materials are organised according to state of origin of refugees in question; the main regions include Central Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia, West Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Europe, America, Caribbean, Latin America and Oceania.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

The archive was moved to the University of East London in November 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Items for the refugee collection can be searched on the Talis online catalogue. On the search page, it is possible to limit any search by selecting "Refugee Collection" in the collection box to the right of the search term boxes.

Separated Material

The UK Web Archiving Consortium is archiving the Refugee Council Online's website on a regular basis. Researchers can access this archive .

Conditions Governing Use

Copies, subject to copyright and the condition of the original, may be supplied. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the archivist.

Custodial History

The history of the Refugee Council Archive can be traced back to 1951 when it was initially conceived by the forerunners of the Refugee Council. The Archive was extensively developed over a period of three decades from the 1960s to the late 1990s. This resulted in the Council establishing an Archive of international importance covering refugee issues from all over the world, but with a particularly strong emphasis on British materials.


New material is regularly received from the Refugee Council.