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Using Browse by Theme

Browse by Theme and the search feature

The Browse by Theme feature is designed to help teachers locate valuable source material easily and quickly without using the search feature. Searching a collection of this size using specific terms is likely to return more documents than you can realistically work through. Consequently, the search feature works best as a tool to find a document you know exists. It is less effective as a browsing device, which is the distinct advantage of Browse by Theme.

To help you find some of the more interesting Cabinet papers that relate to significant events of the 20th century, academics at The National Archives have researched and linked relevant Cabinet papers to short historical packages. These packages are organised under ten themes that cover the following areas:

The United Kingdom and the world

  • Total war
  • Limited war and the politics of defence
  • Empire, Commonwealth and de-colonisation
  • Diplomacy and foreign relations

The economy, business and resources

  • Government finance and the economy
  • British industry, agriculture and commerce
  • Infrastructure, energy and natural resources

Society and the Welfare State

  • Law, liberty and society
  • From self help to the Welfare State
  • Education

Each package has a cover page that includes a picture or photograph (chosen with great care to stimulate and challenge the student), a synopsis, and drop-down links to the carefully selected Cabinet papers. Package content can be found using links on the top right-hand index.

For example, the 'Diplomacy and foreign relations' theme is divided into the following packages:

Post-war dispensation

  • Peace treaties
  • League of Nations

Interwar foreign relations

  • Treaties, pacts and axes 1924 -1936
  • Descent into war

The Cold War

  • Start of the Cold War
  • The Berlin Problem and Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Britain's role in east-west détente
  • The Arab-Israeli conflict

Europe and America

  • European co-operation
  • Anglo-American relations