The BBC's handbooks were published yearly from 1928 to 1987, apart from a two-year break in 1953-1954. Alongside the Annual Report and Accounts, which the BBC is required to submit to Parliament, these handbooks were intended to be a publicly available report of what it did and why. The handbooks' aims have been summarised thus by Sir Ian Jacob, former Director-General (BBC handbook
, 1955): "To provide a clear and reliable guide to the workings of the BBC, to survey the year's work in British broadcasting, and to bring together as much information about the BBC as can be assembled within the covers of a small book."With occasional changes of title (from 'Handbook' to 'Yearbook' to 'Annual' and back), but generally following the same format (a review of the year; information on notable programmes; basic factual material, including the names of senior staff and governors; engineering developments; audience trends; accounts; a copy of the BBC's charter), for its last seven years of publication (1981-1987), the handbooks also incorporated the Corporation's statutory annual report and accounts.A useful introduction to this particular reference series is The BBC handbooks : some observations for broadcasting historians
by Hugh Chignell, Media School, Bournemouth University.