In recent years, scholars have contested conventional narratives such as that the League of Nations was a complete ‘failure’ or that the United Nations was a novelty in comparison with the League. Scholars now offer more nuanced and archive-based analyses. However, while traditional research has emphasised the establishment of the first formally independent international civil service and the corresponding secretariat as one of the League's few big achievements, the subject has not substantially benefitted from these new historical studies. This article helps to shed some light on the secretariat's nature and how international the staff really was. After examining the prevailing image of the international civil service at the League, the data will be supplemented by an analysis of the archive material with regard to recruitment and selected personnel files. This article argues that the secretariat was international in a European understanding of the notion. The administration further built on an understanding of international affairs that implied a separation in European ‘high politics’ and non-European regional affairs.