The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) records archive contains an estimated 1.2 million records in paper, microform and other formats. Around 50% of the records in the archive are FCO departmental or post files.
Another 50% are FCO special collection archive files. These special collection records consist of around 600,000 files outside the FCO corporate file plan. The records relate to the work of the FCO and may have been created by the FCO or its predecessors as well as by other organisations.
In line with the recommendations of the Cary report into the colonial administration files, the FCO has recently completed a full inventory of its archive holdings.
The linear meterage of each record series is an estimate based on the standard dimensions of archival boxes. The item count is also an estimate and is specific to the type of record. For instance a single map or a single paper file (which may contain around 100 pages) each count as one item. For microfilm, every sequence of one hundred images is counted as one item (by analogy with the size of a typical paper file) and it is assumed that each roll of microfilm contains a full set of images.
The inventory provides a snapshot of the working tool used to manage this process.