The class FO 5 consists of general correspondence both incoming and outgoing, relating to Great Britain's diplomatic relations with the United States of America from 1793 to 1905. Correspondence between British officials in America and American officials in Britain fall into two main categories: foreign and domestic. Foreign correspondence consists of the correspondence of officials in the United States together with draft replies from the Foreign Office. Domestic correspondence refers to correspondence conducted directly with the Foreign Office in London by American officials in Great Britain, by other departments of the British government, and various private individuals.
The National Archives of Canada has microfilmed volumes 1 to 692, 1793 to 1858, in their entirety. After 1859, only selected volumes, deemed of special significance, have been copied. This material is located on microfilm reels B-833, B-1127 to B-1153, B-1621 to B-1625, B-1771 to B-1819, B-1869 to B-1888, B-1890 to B-1910, B-1990 to B-2032, B-2123 to B-2170, B-2277 to B-2279, B-2321 to B-2325, B-2390 to B-2391, B-2526 to B-2538, B-2588 to B-2604, B-2838 to B-2855, B-2893 to B-2899, B-2943 to B-2946, B-2992 to B-2994, B-3141 to B-3158, B-3197 to B-3210. Oversize documents have been microfilmed separately and are located on reel B-1940. In addition, the National Archives transcribed extracts of documents from FO 5, in 1934, from volumes 589, 591, 598, 600, 1427, 1667 and 1670. The transcripts are available on microfilm reel C-12906.
The transcripts include a bound volume entitled, "Lord Elgin Special Mission 1854" consisting of despatches to Elgin from the Department of State at Washington and from the Foreign Office regarding a variety of topics including the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, fisheries and commerce (FO5/589-600). Also included are despatches from the Foreign Office to Elgin broadly titled "American Fenian Brotherhood 1872" (FO5/1427) and documents relating to the North American Boundary Commission (FO5/1667 & 1670): confidential prints, 1876, reports on operations, 1872 to 1875; report of a special survey in the Lake of the Woods District, 1873 to 1874, and a medical report by Dr. Burgess relating to the boundary commission.