Book/Printed Material Plebiscite and referendum.

About this Item


  • Plebiscite and referendum.


  • In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Plebiscite and Referendum is Number 159 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The introductory chapter discusses terminology and general concepts. It notes that the terms plebiscite and referendum "in their modern acceptation are of comparatively recent origin, but the idea behind them--the ultimate right of the sovereign people to exercise direct legislative power--is of great antiquity." The study distinguishes between plebiscites and referenda on ordinary legislation, on constitutional questions, and regarding annexations. The introduction is followed by eight chapters of widely differing lengths covering historical examples of plebiscites and referenda held between 1791 and 1909 in France, Italy, Norway, Natal (South Africa), Australia, Switzerland, and the United States, as well as a referendum in Schleswig (Germany and Denmark) that was to have taken place after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 but that was never carried out. The study is purely historical and no general conclusions are drawn. Plebiscites were used to settle a number of political and territorial questions that arose in the aftermath of World War I. World Digital Library.

Contributor Names

  • Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section.
  • Fox, Frank, 1874-1960.
  • Gathorne-Hardy, G. M. (Geoffrey Malcolm), 1878-1972
  • Lees, Beatrice A. (Beatrice Adelaide)
  • Rait, Robert S. (Robert Sangster), 1874-1936.
  • Reid, Rachel, active 1920.
  • Williams, Basil, 1867-1950.

Created / Published

  • London, H. M. Stationery off., 1920.

Subject Headings

  • -  Plebiscite
  • -  Referendum


  • -  "The portion of this treatise dealing with the French plebiscites is by Mr. R.S. Rait ... and Miss Beatrice A. Lees ... That on the Italian plebiscites is by Miss Rachel Reid ... with additions by Prof. Rait. Capt. G.M. Gathorne-Hardy contributed the account of the plebiscites in Norway; Major Basil Williams, that of the referendum in Natal; Major Frank Fox the note on the referendum in Australia. Miss Lees supplied the notes on that institution in the United States, and Prof. Rait those on the referendum in Switzerland, and the promised plebiscite in North Schleswig."--Pref note.
  • -  Copy 1 reclass fr JX4054.G7 to KZ1269.G745 1920 & Copy 2 GenColl D6.G7 no. 159


  • 4 p.l., 151 p. 22 cm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • KZ1269 .G745 1920
  • D6 .G7 no. 159 Copy 2.

Library of Congress Control Number

  • a22001013

Online Format

  • online text
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section, Frank Fox, G. M Gathorne-Hardy, Beatrice A Lees, Robert S Rait, Rachel Reid, and Basil Williams. Plebiscite and Referendum. London, H. M. Stationery off, 1920. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section, Fox, F., Gathorne-Hardy, G. M., Lees, B. A., Rait, R. S., Reid, R. & Williams, B. (1920) Plebiscite and Referendum. London, H. M. Stationery off. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section, et al. Plebiscite and Referendum. London, H. M. Stationery off, 1920. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.