Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963

Sources from The National Archives, UK

This digital collection casts new light on Britain's relationship with the EEC, Anglo-American ties, the Cold War, Decolonisation, and issues of Public and Political Morality.

Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963 provides complete coverage of the Cabinet conclusions (minutes) and memoranda of Harold Macmillan’s government, plus selected minutes and memoranda of policy committees.

The Cabinet conclusions are taken by the secretary of the Cabinet or one of their assistants and consist of summaries of all discussions in Cabinet, together with a note of decisions reached. Cabinet memoranda consist of all papers circulated to members of the Cabinet and to other ministers for information or as a basis for discussion. These classes provide a distillation of the work of all the other departments of government, ranging in subject matter from agricultural policy and trade to nuclear policy and issues of international diplomacy.

This collection also includes 165 files from the Prime Minister's Private Office. These provide an important supplement to the Cabinet records and cover all aspects of policymaking.

Macmillan’s record will be evaluated and re-evaluated for decades; this project provides an essential tool for teachers and researchers.
Gillian Starck and Dr Michael Kandiah, Institute of Contemporary British History

Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963 is part of Archives Direct, a cross-searchable multi-product platform, sourced from The National Archives, UK.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • Mid-20th Century


  • The aftermath of Suez and a new Middle East policy, 1957-1963
  • The foundation of the EEC by the Treaty of Rome, 1957
  • The 1957 Defence White Paper, a landmark in British defence policy
  • The Wolfenden Report on Homosexuality and Prostitution, 1957
  • West Indian Independence, 1958
  • The Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961, including the building of the Berlin Wall
  • The Antarctica Treaty of 1959
  • The political and military situation in Laos and South East Asia, 1959-1963
  • Independence for Cyprus and Malta, 1959- 1963
  • The launch of Britain's first nuclear submarine
  • The ‘Wind of Change’ Speech, February 1960
  • Independence for Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Zanzibar
  • The Sharpeville Massacre, March 1960, and apartheid in South Africa
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962
  • The Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1962
  • The Nassau Agreement of December 1962, and Macmillan's relations with President Kennedy
  • The uprising in Brunei, 1962
  • The Pilkington Report on Broadcasting, 1962 
  • de Gaulle's veto of Britain's application to join the EEC, January 1963
  • The foundation of the Organisation of African Unity, 1963
  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 1963
  • The Profumo Scandal, June 1963

Source Archive

  • The National Archives, UK

Material Types

  • Original British government documents - mostly in typescript but with manuscript annotations. Many records of meetings and letters of world leaders.
  • Records of meetings between Macmillan and other key Government figures 
  • Correspondence with and memoranda from Government advisors
  • More detail on key policies, such as the working papers on defence organisation
  • Discussions of the annual budget
  • Files on 'Ministers'
  • Views from Conservative Party Central Office on image and presentation, and ways of making policies attractive to the electorate
  • Records of unofficial Cabinet Meetings
  • Macmillan's correspondence with Khrushchev (1957-63), Eisenhower (1957-60) and Kennedy (1961-63).

Editorial Board

  • Mark Jarvis, University of London
  • Michael David Kandiah, Institute of Contemporary British History
  • Philip Murphy, University of Reading
  • Gillian Staerck, Institute for Contemporary British History
  • John Turner, University of London and author of Macmillan (Longman, 1994)


  • World history
  • British politics
  • Agricultural policy
  • Trade
  • Nuclear policy
  • Issues of international diplomacy

Key Features

  • Complete coverage of Cabinet Conclusion Minutes (CAB 128) and Memoranda (CAB 129) as well as selected files from Prime Minister's Private Office (PREM 11)
  • Documents from the UK government's official archive
  • Available within the cross-searchable Archives Direct platform