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Post Office: Registered Files, Minuted Papers (General)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 33 Series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
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Full title: Post Office: Registered Files, Minuted Papers (General)
Date(s): 1921-1960
Level of description: Series
Extent: 9015 files
Name of creator(s):

No further information available


Administrative/Biographical history:

A number of major changes took place during the period covered by this series. From 1 April 1922, Post Office services in Southern Ireland were transferred to the control of the provisional Irish Government. The growth in administration meant that aspects of work relating only to matters of local interest were devolved from central headquarters to district surveyors. In 1934 as part of a general reorganisation of the Post Office, a Director General was appointed to replace the office of Secretary to The Post Office. At the same time a Post Office Board was created under the chairmanship of the Postmaster General. Further changes in 1934 led to the replacement of district surveyors by regional directors, who were given full powers of day-to-day control of local postal and telecommunications affairs in their regions. This reorganisation was complete by the mid-1940s, with an increasing amount of work concerning local affairs being devolved from Headquarters, leaving it to deal only with matters of general policy and those outside the scope of regional authority.

The system of 'minuting' papers submitted to the Postmaster General by the Secretary to the Post Office for a decision (ie numbering the papers, and separately copying a note of the paper as a 'minute' into volumes indexed by subject) was introduced in 1793. It remained in use by the Post Office Headquarters registry until 1973.

Until 1921, several different major minute series were in use: that concerned with the Packet Service (POST 29), and those concerned with England and Wales (POST 30), Ireland (POST 31) and Scotland (POST 32). From 1790 until 1841, parallel 'Report' series were in use by the Secretary (POST 39 and POST 40)

In 1921, the several different minute series were replaced by a single all-embracing series (POST 33). This was suspended in 1941 as a wartime measure when a Decimal Filing system came into use (POST 102), but was resurrected in 1949. In 1955 the registration of Headquarters files began to be decentralised under several local registries serving particular departments, although the 'minuting' of cases considered worthy of preservation, and the assimilation of later cases with earlier existing minuted bundles, continued until 1973.

For further details of how this class relates to the other report and minute classes, see the following section 'Related Material'.


Scope and content/abstract:

This series comprises 'minuted' papers relating to all manner of Post Office matters.

'Minuted' papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry. At first, the papers 'minuted' tended only to be the particular case submitted to the Postmaster General but, as time went on, registry staff followed a practice of continuing to add physically to an existing minuted case all other cases on that subject which came to hand. As a result, the minuted papers frequently consist of quite large bundles of files on a common subject spanning many years. The date range of the files is consequently often much earlier or much later than the date suggested by the 'Former Reference' used by the registry staff and, in many cases, the precise dates covered by the files have not yet been listed. The subject of individual files among the minuted papers can be wide-ranging, from the mundane administrative minutiae to policy decisions on developments of critical importance.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Please see Scope and Content

Conditions governing access:

Public Record

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Please contact the Archive for further information

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Allied Materials

Related material:


POST 33 is one of several POST classes that contain reports and minutes that have been generated at Headquarters level, usually for the purpose of bringing a variety of Post Office matters to the attention of the Postmaster General. Records can relate to people, places or subjects. The various POST classes that hold these records cover the years 1790-1973. The reason there are numerous classes for such records is that organisational changes have occurred within the Post Office through the decades and different and sometimes overlapping systems have been put in place for such record keeping. For a fuller understanding of central records and how the POST classes that they can be found in relate to each other, readers are advised to consult the 'Guide to Reports and Minutes', which includes a timeline that illustrates what periods and subjects are covered by the various POST classes and how they relate to each other. This can be viewed in the BPMA search room or online. For now, here are two pointers.

1. As a rule of thumb, there are two POST classes for each run of records. One class contains the full paperwork for each case ('papers') and the other class is likely to contain an index or series of précis to this material ('volumes'). This means that the indexes of a 'volume' class will often list the material in the corresponding 'papers' class by subject, name, or place.

2. There are a number of POST classes that address issues such as Packet Service minutes, Scottish minutes, Irish minutes and miscellaneous matters. However, the principal classes likely to address central issues of general importance for England and Wales are:

1790 - 1840: POST 40 (POST 42 volumes)

1840 - 1921: POST 30 (POST 35 volumes)

1921 - 1955: POST 33 (POST 38 volumes)

(1941 - 1948): POST 102 (overlaps with POST 33)

1955 - 1973: POST 122 (also POST 35 volumes)


In 1921, a significant change occurred to the way all reports and minutes were recorded. Before this time, reports and minutes for England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and overseas services had been recorded separately. From 1921, they were all amalgamated into the all-encompassing POST 38 (Postmaster General's Minute Volumes) and POST 33 (Postmaster General's Minute Papers).

POST 38 (Postmaster General's Minute Volumes) is the accompanying class to POST 33, as it contains indexes and series of précis to the material in POST 33.

POST 33 begins in 1921 and ends in 1955. However, it was suspended in 1941 as a wartime measure when a Decimal Filing system came into use and so for the years 1941-1948 a separate run of minutes was kept and these can be found in POST 102 (Decimal Filing Series).

With the war over, POST 33 was resurrected and continued to run from 1948 until 1955.

After 1955, Postmaster General's Minute Papers can be found in POST 122 (Minuted and Decentralised Registry Papers).

Finally, POST 121 (Miscellaneous Papers) contains miscellaneous minute papers of a similar nature to those found in POST 33 but for various reasons were not filed as such. POST 121 covers the dates 1851-1981 and so all of papers in this class covering the period 1921-1955 overlap with the material in POST 33.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry checked by Barbara Ball

Rules or conventions:

Compiled in compliance with General Internation Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G) second edition 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997

Date(s) of descriptions:
Entry checked June 2011

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