If this is your first visit to the Bodleian to consult material from the Conservative Party Archive, please follow the step-by-step guidelines below:
Step One: Be clear what it is you want to research before you visit.
The CPA currently  consists of approximately 7,000 archival boxes of papers, along with a large quantity of published material, audio-visual, posters and leaflets, and 15TB of ‘born-digital’ material. These are kept in the Bodleian’s closed-stack areas and not on the open shelves of the reading room, so it is not possible to visit in order to simply browse the collection.
Step Two: Check that the CPA holds the material that you need to consult.
Although the CPA holds a huge amount of material on the Conservative Party dating from 1867 to the present day, it is not an exhaustive repository. There are significant gaps in holdings due to destruction during the War and subsequently during moves of Conservative Central Office, and also due to occasional periods of poor record-keeping. In addition, material of key Conservative Party figures may not have been passed to the CPA and could have remained amongst the individual's own private papers. Finally, papers of the Conservative Party when in Government are more likely to be found at The National Archives, which has a statutory duty to look after the papers of Government departments.
You should check the online catalogue to the Conservative Party Archive but the Conservative Party Archivist is always happy to offer advice as well. Undergraduate students considering a dissertation topic using the CPA are particularly encouraged to get in touch, and a preliminary discussion with the Archivist is available if required.
Step Three: Apply for permission to see any restricted material.
All unpublished material in the CPA is closed to consultation for 30 years. In addition, some series are embargoed for longer periods. Details of access restrictions are given in the ‘Restrictions on Access’ section in the Introduction to each catalogue, but if in any doubt, please ask the Archivist.
It is possible to apply for permission to consult restricted material, but the process can take a long time so please ensure that you allow sufficient time for this when planning your visit - at least one week for every 10 restricted files restricted.
Please note that, while the Conservative Party will consider reasonable requests for access to restricted material, it is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and is under no obligation to allow access. Permission to consult very recent material will not be given. For more information see Access Conditions.
Step Four: Book an appointment.
Access to the CPA is by appointment only. Much of the CPA is stored off-site so 48 hours’ notice is required in order to retrieve requested items and transfer them to the reading room. Appointments are available all year round, Mondays to Saturdays (excluding public holidays). To book an appointment please contact the Archivist.
Step Five: Apply for a Bodleian Libraries’ Reader’s Card.
To consult material in the CPA, you will need a category 'A' Bodleian reader's card. To do this you will need to download an application form, for which a referee's signature (usually an academic supervisor) is required. Please allow sufficient time to obtain this before your visit, as without it you will not be able to enter the Library.
For more information on the admissions requirements, see here.