Papers of Amnesty International

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Amnesty International documentation and publications, 1974 onwards. Includes Amnesty International bulletins and newsletters, campaign magazines and journals. Files are arranged alphabetically by country and concern topics such as the death penalty, disappearance campaigns, greeting cards for prisoners, human right declarations and medical concerns for prisoners. The papers of committees such as the International Assembly, International Council and International Criminal Court are also represented. There are fourteen volumes of press cuttings,1961-1969

Administrative / Biographical History

Amnesty International was established in 1961 with the primary object of mobilising public opinion in defence of men and women who are imprisoned because their ideas are unacceptable to government authorities in their country. It has members all over the world and, in the words of its first annual report 'has been formed so that there should be some central, international organisation capable of concentrating efforts to secure the release of these 'Prisoners of Conscience' and to secure world wide recognition of Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. To this end it produces a variety of background publications, commercial publications, periodicals and information sheets.

Reference: T. Claudius & F. Stepan, Amnesty International : Portrait einer Organisation(Munich, 1976)

Reference: E. Larsen, A flame in barbed wire : the story of Amnesty International(London, 1978)

Reference: J. Power, Against oblivion - Amnesty International's struggle for human rights(London, 1981, ref. MSS.34X/2)


Amnesty International began depositing its archives in the Centre in 1974. Additions are made quarterly. From January 2000 the additions are arranged according to Amnesty International's own reference system. Documentation received before that date was arranged under the Centre's own system. The later deposits have therefore been differentiated as MSS.34B.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to these papers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in the Centre by Amnesty International at regular intervals since 1974.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this collection-level is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives in London and in Chadwyck-Healey's. National Inventory of Documentary Sources. A detailed finding aid for the documentation from 1974-1999 (MSS.34) is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom. A detailed finding aid for the documentation from 2000 onwards (MSS.34B) is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom. Amnesty International's web pages  include lists of its documentation and some text from 1996 onwards. The Country Dossiers are published on microfiche by Inter Documentation Company by (IDC) of Leiden. An index to the documents is micropublished by IDC.

A CD-ROM published by Amnesty covers its documentation 1962-99. An authority record exists for Amnesty International (GB 152 AAR1582)

Alternative Form Available

A microfiche copy of this documentation is also held at Marylebone Information Service, 109-117 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5PF (open 7 days).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

No appraisal, destruction or scheduling has taken place.


Further deposits are expected on a quarterly basis.

Related Material

Amnesty International's full archives are at the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam ( They have the full set of documents, both public and internal as well as the departmental records, the results of an oral history project carried out some years ago and a collection of Amnesty posters. Many of the documents are on microfilm. Most of these holdings are not yet open for research. They will be released according to Amnesty International's policy document.

Corporate Names