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The Overseas Pensioner journal

OSPA's in-house journal began as a Newsletter in May 1961.  It was published twice yearly since then, and the closing number, No. 114, was published in October 2017.  It had a full colour cover, inside and out, since 1999.  It carried news about Overseas Service pensions topics, OSPA meetings and social events, activities of related interest groups and organizations, and members' obituary lists and notices.  It also contained articles, or memoirs, book reviews and research enquiries concerning Colonial Service life and times.

Copies of the journal are deposited in four of the five statutory deposit libraries, namely the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.  They were also sent to libraries at Edinburgh University, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and SOAS at the University of London, the House of Commons Library, the House of Lords library, and the British Library.

ARTICLES published in this journal

A list of all articles published in the journal since 1981 can be seen by clicking on the buttons below, classified by author or by territory/area.


Book reviews published in the journal

A list of all the book reviews published in the journal since 1965 can be seen by clicking on the buttons below, classified by author and by territory/area:

OSPA - I Remember It Well - Book

OSPA’s own book

I Remember it Well: Fifty Years of Colonial Service Personal Reminiscences (ISBN 978 190677 518 6)

OSPA’s Golden Jubilee in 2010 was marked by the publication of a book I Remember it Well edited by OSPA’s Secretary, David Le Breton.  Over seventy contributions make up this collection of memoirs from members who served the Crown in colonial territories around the globe both before and after World War II. They write about their personal lives, their first tour, travel, work and leisure activities.

Life in the Colonial Service was varied, sometimes dangerous, often hilarious but never dull.  An important record of the lives of many professionals in the colonies.

The book is now out of print but copies may be obtainable through book dealers.

OSPA Research Project - Occasional papers, Witness Seminars and conferences: Transcripts

See the separate section on the website under the heading WITNESS SEMINARS & CONFERENCES which gives details of these published records.

Occasional Papers and Seminar Transcripts


Administering Empire: an annotated checklist of personal memoirs and related studies, compiled by Terry Barringer was published by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London in 2004. It was one of the outcomes of the OSPA Research Project at the Institute.

That print version contained 489 entries covering the British Colonial Service in the twentieth century, concentrating on memoirs, biographies and autobiographies but also including some general studies. Comparative material on the Sudan and on the colonial services of France and other European powers was also included.

The years since 2004 have seen a continuing flow of publications which have been logged in this database, last updated in February 2016, which now contains in excess of 800 entries.
The compiler would be pleased to receive new additions and corrections.

Administering Empire Database


There are four institutions that may take records of overseas service, primarily for historical research purposes. Their archivists will consider taking material that can be clearly identified and is well-ordered.

It is necessary to contact them before sending any records or other items, so that they can judge its suitability for their needs.  Their broad criteria will be:

·                 physical condition of the records
·                 their provenance
·                 brief biographical notes of the donor or other key figures involved
·                 geographical coverage and date period
·                 identity of key correspondents, photographers or collectors
·                 approximate size of the collection/number of albums, bundles of letters or other                              documents, loose prints, etc

The three institutions in Britain are:

1.  Oxford University

The original collection of Colonial Service records was started by the then Rhodes House Library (a part of the main Bodleian Library) in 1963 and continued under two projects until 1984.

These form the basis of the collections now held in the Weston Library (part of the Bodleian Library).  They will consider taking written records, memoirs, diaries, tour reports, official papers and government publications.

Contact:  Lucy McCann, Senior Archivist
Address: The Bodleian Library, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG
Email:  [email protected]
Tel:  01865 277152

2.  Cambridge University

There are three separate libraries:

(i)     The Royal Commonwealth Society Library, now part of the Cambridge University Library, is primarily for items that complement the existing RCS collections.  These include well-captioned photographs, with diaries or related correspondence.

Contact:  Rachel Rowe, Smuts Librarian for South Asian and Commonwealth Studies, Royal                 Commonwealth Society Dept, Cambridge Univ. Library, West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR
Email: [email protected]  
Tel: 01223 333146

(ii)        University’s Centre of South Asian Studies

Covers Sri Lanka and South East Asia as well as India.  Include memoirs, oral history, correspondence, photographs and cine films.

Contact: Dr Kevin Greenbank, Archivist
Address: Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT
Email:  [email protected]
Tel: 01223 768061

(iii)            University’s Centre for African Studies

For African countries only. Include photographs, and written records.

Contact: Ms Jenni Skinner
Address: Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT
Email: [email protected]
Tel:  01223 334398

3Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and Bristol Archives

Contains the former British Empire and Commonwealth Museum Collections, and will now consider accepting further material that will complement and build on those collections, as well as new items.

For paper, film and sound archive:

Contact: Jayne Pucknell or Nicky Sugar
Address: Bristol Archives, B Bond, Smeaton Road, Bristol BS1 6XN
Email: [email protected]

For other items:

Contact: Sue Giles (Senior Curator, World Cultures)
Address: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RL
Email: [email protected]

A fourth institution is in Austria:

4.   University of Vienna

Dr Valentin Seidler has started the research project into the colonial service, through the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Historical Social Science.  He is also a visitor at the University of Warwick.  

He is very keen to receive all kinds of records, documents, manuscripts, photos, which could be published and in due time converted to a digital archive.

Contact: Dr Valentin Seidler
Address: Ludwig Boltzmann Institut fuer Historische Sozialwissenschaft, Campus, Spitalgasse 2,           Hof 1, Eingang 1.1, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Email: [email protected]


This website displays on-line every kind of written and pictorial records.  They are just for information, not for potential reserach purposes like the other four above.

Contact: Stephen Luscombe
Address: 20 Fairfield Avenue, Peverell, Plymouth, Devon P22 3QF
Email: [email protected]