Archives of the Royal Commonwealth Society

Scope and Content

This collection is composed of the institutional records of the society. Major sections relate to its organisation and administration, charters and rules, membership, the construction and renovation of its headquarters in London, and the extension of branches within the United Kingdom and throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth. The archives also document the society's many cultural, educational and philanthropic initiatives, often undertaken as collaborative projects with other societies interested in Imperial and Commonwealth affairs.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Society, known successively as the Colonial Society, the Royal Colonial Institute, the Royal Empire Society and finally the Royal Commonwealth Society, was established in 1868 with the objective of promoting knowledge and appreciation of the British colonies.

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 (

Acquisition Information

The archives moved to Cambridge with the rest of the Royal Commonwealth Society Library in 1993.


Includes index.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Many of the early records are in very fragile condition

Related Material

A catalogue of the photograph collection of the Royal Commonwealth Society may be found at:


For further information on the society see Trevor R. Reese, 'The History of the Royal Commonwealth Society 1868-1968' (London, 1968).

Additional Information

This description was created by MJC.

Royal Colonial Institute/Royal Empire Society/Royal Commonwealth Society