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Post Office: Registered Files, Minuted and Decentralised Registry Papers (Miscellaneous Papers)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 121 Series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
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Full title: Post Office: Registered Files, Minuted and Decentralised Registry Papers (Miscellaneous Papers)
Date(s): 1851-1981
Level of description: Series
Extent: 579 files
Name of creator(s):

No further information available


Administrative/Biographical history:

The system of 'minuting' papers submitted to the Postmaster General by the Secretary to the Post Office for a decision (i.e. 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 and overseas mail (Pkt reference files held in POST 29), those concerned with England and Wales (E or Eng reference files held in POST 30), Ireland (Ire or I reference files held in POST 31) and Scotland (Scot or S reference files held in POST 32). From 1790 until 1841, parallel 'Report' series were in use by the Secretary (POST 39 & POST 40).

In 1921, the several different minute series were replaced by a single all-embracing series referenced M or Min (held in POST 33). This was suspended in 1941 as a wartime measure when a Decimal Filing (DF) 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. Files from this period either have a 'P' reference or an alphanumeric reference to indicate which department created them, i.e. MD (Mails Division).


Scope and content/abstract:

This class comprises of Headquarters case files that came to light after the appropriate class catalogues (POST 30, POST 31, POST 32, POST 33, POST 102 and POST 122) had been completed. It includes files found in the registry repository in the former Headquarters at St Martin's le Grand, which were filed upon completion and then forgotten. It also includes papers which remained with the originating Headquarters departments until the Headquarters moved in 1984. The majority of these are accumulations of files on a common subject spanning several years.

The manner in which this class accumulated means that it covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from allowances for keeping horses (POST 121/159) and cats (POST 121/22) to the Post Office's official attitude to divorce (POST 121/341). There are also a few appointment papers (POST 121/340, POST 121/344, POST 121/352, POST 121/430, and POST 121/431).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

POST 121 is a composite class consisting of files from both the Centralised and Decentralised File Registry systems, they are arranged according to their numerical reference number, this indicates the period of their creation; files are arranged in the following sub-series:

-Eng or E reference files (England and Wales Central Registry files up to 1920).

-Scot or S reference files (Scottish Central Registry files up to 1920).

-Ire or I reference files (Irish Central Registry files up to 1920).

-Pkt reference files (Packet Boat and overseas mail service minutes up to 1920).

-Min or M reference files (England and Wales, Scottish and Irish Central Registry files 1921-1941, 1948-1955).

-DF (Decimal Filing) reference files (England and Wales, Scottish and Irish Central Registry files during war time and immediately afterwards 1941-1948).

-A reference files (Central Registry files relating to appointments of staff, c.1937-1952 when central recording of appointments was devolved from the Headquarters Registry to Regional Headquarters).

-P reference files (Decentralised Registry files worthy of preservation, 1955-1973).

-Files with alphanumeric reference codes: CSD, DPS, MD, MKD, POD, PPD, TH and WH (Decentralised Registry files created by individual departments 1955-1988).

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:

POST 121/1-POST 121/338 were discovered rolled in the registry repository of the former Headquarters at St Martin's le Grand. POST 121/339-POST 121/429 came from departments in the former Headquarters. POST 121/430-555 arrived at the archives later than 1985.

This class of records was divided between the Post Office and BT Archives in 1991, when telecommunications records were transferred to BT custody.

Allied Materials

Related material:


POST 121 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)


POST 121 is unlike the other Reports and Minutes classes in that it does not have a dedicated accompanying 'volume' class. This is because it comprises miscellaneous records that relate to numerous, disparate subjects. Consequently, POST 121 contains all manner of records that relate to a number of Report and Minute POST classes.

For records before 1921, see POST 35 and POST 30 (England and Wales Minutes).

For 1921-1955 records, see POST 33 (Postmaster General's Minute Papers) and POST 102 (Decimal Filing Series).

For records after 1955, see POST 122 (Minuted and Decentralised Registry Papers).

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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