The British Foreign Office Records of General Correspondence for Russia is the basic collection of documents for studying Anglo-Russian relations during this period of change in domestic and international affairs. This collection consists of the bound volumes of correspondence for the 1883 to1886 period.
The office of principal secretary of state for foreign affairs and a separate Foreign Office came into existence in 1782. Throughout the 19th century, the Foreign Office establishment gradually increased and regular divisions of labor and procedures were instituted. Dispatches and drafts relating to important matters were copied and circulated to the prime minister and the sovereign. Other papers of less importance were circulated to the cabinet. The Foreign Office was organized along departmental lines, with the departments grouped into two categories: political and non-political.
The correspondence arriving in the Foreign Office was divided between "foreign" correspondence and "domestic" correspondence, which was further divided into notes from foreign representatives in London and notes from other British government departments, institutions, and individuals. Foreign correspondence was categorized by department (political, consular, commercial, etc.)