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British Policy in the Middle East, 1914-1948: Primary Sources

This is a guide to researching British policy in the Middle East from 1914-1948. Last updated 05-26-2023

Primary Sources

Primary sources are works written at the time a particular historical event happened, or during the time a particular historical subject lived.  They may be found in books via the online catalog, online in electronic resources the M.S.U. Libraries owns or subscribes to, in periodical or newspaper articles written at the time, on microform, in government documents, or in free websites produced by scholars.  Artworks, museum objects, or historical recordings may also be primary sources. 

Works by a historical subject, a person's memoirs, journals, or correspondence are primary sources.  In the online catalog watch for words in book titles indicating primary source content:  autobiography, memoir, journal, diary, letters, correspondence, speeches.  Sometimes primary sources in the online catalog have sub-headings like these:  sources, sources and documents, archives, personal narratives, correspondence.  For example:  League of Nations--sources; Paris Peace Conference--sources. Published collections of primary sources exist also.  They may be huge sets of government documents or one volume compilations of selected, reprinted, primary sources on a topic. 

Our Murray and Hong Special Collections contains all the rare books and specially valuable, one-of-a-kind items in M.S.U. Libraries.  Find what is there on the Middle East.  Do an Advanced Catalog search in Books and Media searching for subjects such as these: Middle East or Palestine or Iraq or Jordan.  Choose to have your retrieval contain MSU Special Collections' materials only, by scrolling down below the search boxes, looking along the right side in the Location area.   When you receive your results, use the facets along the left side of the screen to ask for date range 1900 to 1949. Reach out for help to the Special Collections' staff.

First some online full-text databases are listed, then some print sets that are compilations or anthologies of primary sources, then some information on using the British government documents we have online, on microform, and on paper in the stacks.

Financial Times Historical Archive 1888-2021 (London)

World’s most authoritative daily business newspaper. In Gale Newspapers site here, input your search.  On the left under the search boxes, deselect all the newspapers, then go back and put a check mark only beside Financial Times.

Daily Mail Historical Archive 1842-2004 (London).  Paper of ordinary, working folks.  Follow directions for Financial Times just above.

Manchester Guardian, 1821-1825; 1828-1900; 1901-1959;

Observer (London) 1901-2003

Telegraph Historical Archive

1855-2016 One of the world's highest circulating newspapers in the English language.  Includes also the Sunday issues from 1961-2000.  The BBC describes it as "the newspaper of the establishment."  We also offer this newspaper post 2000, here.

International Herald Tribune Archive

1887-2013  Complete archive from its inception as the European edition of the New York Herald and later the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune.  Ends with last issue of International Herald Tribune before its relaunch as International New York Times.

Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: a Documentary Record, 1553-1956 Main DS 42 .H78 1987

Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: a Documentary Record  Remote Storage DS 42 .H78 v. 1-2 earlier edition to above

Middle East 1914-1979 Main DS 119.7 .M4717

Archives of Empire, Volume 1, From the East India Company to the Suez Canal Main DA 16 .A73 2003 v. 1

See chapters X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, which cover the Suez Canal, the Arab uprising in Egypt 1869-82, and pilgrims, travelers, and tourists in the Holy Land in the late 19th through early 20th centuries.

Creation of Israel: British Foreign Office Correspondence on Palestine and Transjordan 1940-1948

Finding British Parliamentary Papers in the M.S.U. Libraries is our in-house research guide for use of the British Parliamentary Papers.  There are two editions, 2000 and 2007.  The latter contains more links to online resources.  You can make an appointment with Agnes Haigh Widder, Humanities Bibliographer, to learn to use this material.  Here are links to the most commonly used items and call numbers for some important print sources:

Parliamentary Debates (House of Lords) Main J 301 .H223 Ser. 5 v. 2-457

Parliamentary Debates (House of Commons) Main J 301 .H224 Ser. 5 v. 1-1000

The Debates contain written versions of the speeches made in each House.  There is a set of volumes for each Parliamentary Session, one for the Lords, and another for the Commons.  Look for the subject/name indexes in the back of the final volume for the session to find speeches by particular M.P.s or on particular topics and page references.  The online version of the Debates that we offer through the online version of the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers is not superb; you may want to use the print vols.

British Government Publications, an Index to Chairmen of Committees and Commissions of Inquiry, 1800-1978.  Main Z 2009 .R535 1982 v. 1-3

See v. 2.  Many documents are known by the name of the committee/commission chair.  Provides the citation info needed to find the document in the Sessional Papers in microprint 10 of the Sessional Papers.

Century of Diplomatic Blue Books, 1814-1919 Main Z 2009 .T28

Breviate of Diplomatic Blue Books, 1919-1939 Main Z 1009 .V6

These two books provide citations to documents in the Sessional Papers about foreign affairs.