Today 1926 is chiefly remembered for being the year of the ‘General Strike’ which saw workers and Trade Unions across Great Britain fail in their fight for better working conditions as middle class volunteers united to maintain essential services. However there was another unifying event in 1926 which the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) played a key part in – The Great Peace Pilgrimage.
As well as being a collecting archive repository, with deposits of external collections from organisations and individuals, Archives & Special Collections also hold the historical records of the School. I’ve been working on tidying up the catalogue for the “Unregistered” collection and it is now available online.
LSE/UNREGISTERED contains a wide variety of documents that are outside of the School’s administrative system and therefore not part of the main body of departmental files in the Central Filing Registry. The collection includes School publications – from yearbooks and calendars to LSE Magazine and circulars; Directors’ files; Library records such as accessions registers, visitor books, guides and rules; examination papers; photographs and Students’ Union print. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the development and growth of LSE.
There is information to discover about students at the School. The calendars include lists of students awarded degrees, as well as scholarships and prizes. The finance division ledgers include fee books, with details of the fees paid by students. There are photographs of students’ union officers and documents covering their activities. The Beaver provides an insight into the weekly goings on at the School from the students’ perspective, with the Clare Market Review journal a more literary publication. We can also see the examination papers students on courses such as economics, anthropology, law and commerce would have undertaken
Staff at the School are covered by lists of academic staff in the calendars, including their publications and the courses on which they lectured. LSE Magazine features news and updates and the staff circular has more informal news items. Both academic and administrative staff members feature in the photographs section. There are offprints and pamphlets of articles, lectures and speeches by staff.
The Library features prominently in the collection, from records supporting its establishment in 1896 to photographs of the new Lionel Robbins building in 2001. Annual reports detail the growth of the Library while the PLEBS staff newsletter provides an insight into the lighter side of the librarians, library assistants and other staff that keep the world’s largest social science library running.
As a History graduate I’m ashamed to admit that prior to starting to catalogue the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) archive I knew nothing about the Finnish Civil War which occurred from 27 January to 15 May 1918. The war was fought between the Social Democrats led by the People’s Deputation of Finland (commonly referred to as the Reds, who received support from the Russian Soviet Republic government) and the anti-socialist Conservative led Senate (the Whites who had support from the German Empire). The Whites won the war which saw both sides partake in campaigns of terror away from the battle field, an estimated 37,000 people died out of a population of 3 million – the majority being Reds who died in prison camps or in the terror campaigns.
During June and July 1922 Matilde Widegren, first President of the Swedish section of WILPF, and her colleague Svea Säfverström travelled through Finland witnessing the effects of the civil war. The WILPF archive contains a typed report of the women’s experiences with some photographs illustrating what they saw. The report includes some statements on the current feelings of the Finnish population such as this:
“The hatred is still very strong. Most people look at the friends of peace almost as traitors. For fear of Soviet Russia and the Communists Finland has not only a great army but also a numerous safeguard of young men, who volunteer in all kinds of military work… Other things that are stirring up the animosity are the beautiful monuments which are erected on the graves of the fallen white soldiers, the Communists having had to bury their dead comrades in some desolate places.”
I have recently finished cataloguing the papers of Stanley Hartnoll Bailey, an Assistant Lecturer in International Relations at the LSE 1928-1938. Tragically he died prematurely in his mid 30s, leaving a widow and young children, yet in his relatively short career he achieved a good deal. Many of his various activities are documented in the records that form his archive. In addition to his academic post at the LSE and his position as an Advisor of Studies, Bailey was also a member of several committees. Most notably he was Honorary Secretary of the British Co-ordinating Committee for International Studies 1932-1938, and the collection contains much correspondence and other documents that he created or handled in the course of his work for the committee. Bailey was also a member of the International Student Service’s Co-operating Committee for England and Wales and of the Executive Committee of the International People’s College. The majority of Bailey’s papers consist of copy minutes, agendas, correspondence, memoranda and other papers of various committees, including many records relating to International Studies Conferences and a file of papers of the Labour Party Advisory Committee on International Questions, 1934-1938. The collection also contains Bailey’s research notes and and records collected in the course of his research, papers relating to his teaching role, and copy documents of the United Nations 1927-1932. It is now available to access in the LSE Archives reading room.
I am very happy to announce that the cataloguing of the Lionel Robbins Papers is now complete and the catalogue is available via LSE archives catalogue! It’s been hard work to get the cataloguing done in 9 months instead of 12 but I was determined to get it finished before I finished up and am so pleased to have been able to complete it. In order to get the cataloguing completed in time I didn’t get to spend as much time on promoting and increasing access to the collection so this will be the next stage of the project.
The collection now totals 155 boxes of material and has been catalogued to individual folder level. The catalogue is free-text searchable meaning that if the search term you are looking for appears anywhere in any Robbins catalogue entry then your search will bring up those reference numbers and will highlight the term you search for. This is the most straightforward way to search. However if you wanted to restrict your search so that only results within the Lionel Robbins Papers would show up then there is a most time efficient way of doing this than doing a general search then filtering out the material you are not interested in. Instead of trying to explain it I have included some diagrams to show you the steps.
As the project title The economist and the wider world hints there is a lot more to this collection than you might think would be in the papers of an economist. To give you an idea of the varied types of material in the collection I have included a breakdown of how I have organised it.
1. Lecture notes/speeches
5. Economic Advisory Council (EAC)
6. War work between 1939 – 1950
7. Publications by Lionel Robbins
9. The Arts
10. Travels and conferences
11. Other committees and memberships
12. Appointment diaries
13. Press cuttings and photographs
14. Personal/family papers
Some of my personal favourites have been
- correspondence with friends and family where his passion for the arts shines through – for example talking about trips to the ballet or opera, his chats with his best friend and brother-in-law Clive Gardiner, an artist who often drew sketches on the letters he sent to Lionel; or notes of his attempts to squeeze in time to visit a local art gallery whatever city he was visiting for an economics conference
- material about the Bretton Woods conference of 1944. In addition to the diaries which he wrote as a day-to-day report for colleagues in the Economic Section of the War Cabinet I was also happy to find a stash of letters he sent to his wife Iris, sometimes as often as one every few days
- copies of speeches he gave all over the world, some on economics, some on the importance of funding the arts and others on the importance of access to all for higher education
Now that the collection is online it’s there for you to find your favourites, and your surprises amongst the Lionel Robbins Papers – enjoy!
Following the end of the First World War WILPF’s second congress was held in May 1919 in Zurich, Switzerland. This was the first time members of WILPF from opposing sides of the war had been able to meet since the 1915 congress in The Hague and the number of countries represented rose by four to 16. In Gertrude Bussey and Margaret Tims’ book ‘Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915 – 1965, a record of fifty years work’ there is a particularly touching description of how the war had affected some WILPF members of the defeated nations in the four years since the last meeting: “scarred and shrivelled by hunger and privation, they were scarcely recognisable.” Britain were represented by 25 members, covering a wide age span, some of whom are pictured below. I particularly like the glamorous outfit of the lady second from the right in the front row.
The Zurich congress saw WILPF pronounce the following statement on the Treaty of Versailles:
“This International Congress of Women expresses its deep regret that the terms of peace proposed at Versailles should so seriously violate the principles upon which alone a just and lasting peace can be secured… The terms of peace… create all over Europe discords and animosities which can only lead to future wars. ”
As the Treaty of Versailles is now regarded as being a key factor in the rise of the German Nazi party this statement is made all the more poignant. However there were some points in the Treaty which WILPF members did approve of including the disarmament of Germany as this picture demonstrates.
During the 1920s and 1930s WILPF actively campaigned for worldwide disarmament and ahead of the League of Nations World Disarmament Conference in 1932 WILPF circulated a world disarmament petition. The petition launched in May 1930 and by January 1931 33,000 signatures had been collected worldwide (including 10,000, nearly a third, from Wales!); shops were taken over, such as this one in Birmingham, to promote the petition.
By the end of 1931 more than three million people had signed the petition with Britain providing the highest national total of over 1.5 million. By the time of the conference the final international total was six million. Members of the British section of WILPF travelled from London to Geneva with the signatures collected being transported in crates, a big crowd gathered to see them off at Victoria station. This picture shows the women safely arrived in Geneva posing for photographs surrounded by several boxes containing petitions.
If anyone recognises the women in the photographs then please get in touch as I would love to be able to put names to faces and share this knowledge in a future blog post.