New Resource: Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War


Secret Files from World Wars to Cold Wars provides access to British intelligence documents from 1873-1953 from the UK National Archives. Content is selected by an editorial board consisting of expert historians and archivists.


Although it spans roughly 80 years of content and numerous conflicts, Secret Files concentrates on the 1930s and 1940s. In particular, there are many files documenting intelligence during World War Two.

There is a methodology section that discusses in some depth the selection and retention processes for the documents and files.



  • Search interface is intuitive, offering both quick and advanced search options.
  • Material is organized in a variety of ways to maximize access: series based on departments, organizations, people (further divided based on both role and geography), and theme (e.g. British Domestic Security).
  • Additional content to complement documents and files, such as an FAQ section, tips for using the collection, subject essays, and help videos.



  • Difficult to generate citation information.


  • A small number of subject essays written by members of the editorial board (Denis Smyth, who recently retired from the University of Toronto’s History Department, is a member of the editorial board and has contributed a subject essay to the collection!).
  • Option to create an account to save searches and documents.
  • In addition to typical search filters, such as document date and type, users can filter search results by a particular conflict, theme, region, or organization.


On-campus access here.

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