Colonial Office collection

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Colonial Office collection

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1703 - 1886

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  • Source of title proper: Title supplied from contents of the collection.

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  • Microfilm duplicated between 1963 and 1989. (Creation)
    Great Britain. Colonial Office

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Physical description

289 microfilm reels (35 mm)

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Administrative history

Administrative functions for British colonies were given in 1696 to "The Lords Commissioners for promoting the trade of our Kingdom and for inspecting and improving our plantations in America and elsewhere." This body was also referred to as the Board of Trade and Plantations. By 1702, responsibility for the colonies was assumed by the Secretary of State for the Southern Department. In 1768 the separate office of the Colonial Secretary was created. In 1782 the Board of Trade was abolished and colonial affairs were placed in the Home Secretary's Department until 1801 when responsibility for colonial affairs was transferred from the Home Office to the Sercretary of State for War and the Colonies. The Colonial Office emerged as an independent administrative unit in 1854 with the appointment of a separate Secretary of State for the Colonies. A detailed account of the history of the Colonial Office and its record-keeping practices can be found in the National Archives of Canada's publication General Inventory of Manuscripts / Manuscripts Division - Ottawa : Public Archives of Canada, 1976. The introduction to the National Archives' MG 11 has been rerpoduced and is appended to Inventory #123 in the Nova Scotia Archives' on site finding aid system.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection consists of portions of the Colonial Office records containing infomation about Nova Scotia through the British colonial period. The collection includes the original correspondence or despatches (in-letters) of the various colonial governors of Nova Scotia or other senior officals responsible for administering the colonial government, as well as entry books (out-letters) consisting of copies of Colonial Office replies. These are supplemented with various indexes, registers, acts passed by the colonial legilsture, Blue Books of Statistics, sessional papers and miscellanea. Collection consists of: Series - Original correspondence, Board of Trade (CO 217)

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Acquired through tthe National Archives of Canada's diffusion programme between 1963 and 1990. Microfilm copies of the originals were made for the National Archvies of Canada by the Public Record Office, London, England.


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Location of originals

The originals are in the custody of the National Archives (United Kingdom)

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Finding aids

While the Nova Scotia Archives has created finding aids for each series of microform Colonial Office records it its collection the finding aids created by Library and Archives Canada and its predecessors remain of great use. Very detailed background information on the origins and records of the Colonial Office as well as detailed class descriptions of material acquired by the National Archives of Canada are found in the printed General Inventory, Manuscripts, Volume 2, MG 11 to MG 16. Ottawa : 1976. This is available in the Nova Scotia Archives Library, (Call Number: CD 3626 ).

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Further accruals may be expected.

General note

Records in the fonds of the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor's of Nova Scotia contain inward letters and copies of outward letters of the Governor of Nova Scotia. In addition, the fonds of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council of Nova Scotia contain record series duplicated in this collection.

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