Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Norman H. Pollock

Committee Member

D. Alan Harris

Committee Member

J. S. Hamilton


At the beginning of the nineteenth century Britain's public records were scattered among more than fifty depositories which were overcrowded, unorganized, neglected, and ill-suited to record preservation. The British government was not sympathetic to the condition or the importance of the records. How then did the British government become involved in creating the Public Record Office and building its first fireproof repository? This study takes the form of a chronology based extensively on the records of the Public Record Office, the Office of Works, and the British Sessional Papers.

Although the creation of the Public Record Office was part of a larger preservation movement in the nineteenth century, in fact, it was the result of the efforts of a few devoted individuals. The design and construction of Britain's central archive was the result of the efforts of one architect--James Pennethorne.


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