Routledge’s new digital resource ‘Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War’

The newest digital resource from Routledge provides key insights into monumental events of twentieth-century history. Sourced from The National Archives, U.K., Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War provides digital access to 144,000 pages of content. Featuring previously classified intelligence and policy files of the Foreign Office’s Permanent Under Secretary’s Department, there is great potential for researchers, using this resource, to unearth new research and make future discoveries into intelligence, foreign policy, international relations and military relations.

Gill Bennett, OBE, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, comments, “This unique collection means that the crucial intelligence dimension to history in the first half of the twentieth-century is no longer missing.” Secret Files provides instant online access to a wealth of historical research. The range of documents, from daily signals intelligence reports to government directed policy and strategy, spans four key twentieth-century conflicts, with a spotlight on the Second World War. With content selected through consultation with academics specialising in the fields of intelligence, foreign policy, international relations, politics and history, this collection will enhance teaching and research from the period of Appeasement right through to the early Cold War.


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Significant files include the Hess files containing transcriptions of conversations and interrogations with Rudolf Hess, the Appointed Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler, during his wartime captivity in Britain. Other highlights in the resource relate to Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy), Operation Husky (Allied invasion of Sicily) and the series HW 1, which contains German, Japanese, Italian and other nation’s signals, that were intercepted, deciphered and translated by the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. This series runs from late 1940 to 1945 and in many cases Winston Churchill’s own handwritten annotations, questions and comments are on the files.

Key functionality of the resource includes fully searchable documents with browsing and filter options by: Series, Conflict, Theme, Time Period, Regions, Document Types, and Organisations that allow searching within the document.

Anthony Glees, from the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, discussed the importance of the resource to researchers: “Few resources can be of greater use to the student of twentieth-century history than easy access to the original documentary evidence of how Britain’s foreign policy was shaped by secret intelligence.”

Roger Horton, Chief Executive at Taylor & Francis, talks about the interactive features of Secret Files , that will facilitate the accessibility and extend the reach of this resource to those outside of the U.K., “We take great pride in digitising and disseminating this unique resource – these are documents of utmost historical significance that will greatly benefit the global academic community. Our sophisticated search and navigation will make exploration of these documents and the sometimes unexpected links between them more straightforward than ever before. It is vital to continue our efforts in digitising valuable archival content to connect the academic community with the resources that will facilitate their research.”

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