HISTORY OF THE WAR COMMITTEE: Report of Work for the year 1919 and Taxonomy/Classifying System for Army Related Records from the War

Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Whitton’s taxonomy/classification system of the administrative records of the British Army from Great War was an ambitious attempt to help both historians (including Sir James Edmonds and the historians of the Committee of Imperial Defence) and those tasked with writing administrative histories/revised instructions based on the experience of the Great War to easily access the relevant records. He states in his report on the work of the Committee during 1919 that the taxonomy had been agreed with the Military Branch of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Lieutenant Colonel Whitton’s explanation of his methods and classification system in his 1919 report speaks for itself despite some damage to the surviving source document.

It is not clear how much progress was made in the three years that his Committee’s work carried on. We also do not know whether any of Whitton’s ideas influenced subsequent catalogues and finding aides produced by R (Records) at Isleworth and then Woolwich (click here for Lt. Col. F.E. Whitton and The War Office History of the War Committee 1919-1922).

The following transcriptions all come from The National Archives (TNA) WO 32/9308 RECORDS: War Diaries (Code 21(B)): Collection of administrative data for History of the War 1914-1918. Question by Treasury as to duplication of work

Please note: In Annexure B there is a mistake in the original source document, with AP listed as both British Universities and the War on page 2 and AP British Missions on page 9. It is now not possible to tell which was the right heading, although both are important areas in their own right.

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