Focus on: Lionel Robbins’ papers at LSE

Archives Hub Feature for October/November 2013

Photograph of Lionel Robbins (1929)
Lionel Robbins, 1929, LSE/UNREGISTERED/25/1/3

The economist and the wider world: the papers of Lionel Robbins (1898 – 1984) is a project which aims to provide access to the papers of Lionel Robbins at the London School of Economics and Political Science and promote them through a programme of cataloguing, digitisation and publicity.  The project has been generously supported by the LSE Annual Fund.  The cataloguing of the collection is now complete and the catalogue is accessible via the LSE Library archives catalogue.

Lionel Robbins was closely connected with LSE for over 60 years initially as a student, then as a professor and Chair of Economics, and also through his work for the Library Appeal and on the Court of Governors. The title of the project is ‘The economist and the wider world’ and Lionel Robbins’ papers contain all the economic-related material you might expect in the personal archive of such an important figure to the practice and theory of economics.  However ‘the wider world’ of the collection title hints at the wealth of other subjects that are also covered in this collection.

Poem by Robbins
‘The return from the war’, poem by Lionel Robbins, 1918, 1922, ROBBINS/2/4

Robbins’ passion for the arts is well represented throughout his correspondence with friends and family, as well as through his work as a Trustee of the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House.  The collection also contains his own artistic endeavors as a young man in the form of poems and short stories.  Some of these, such as the poems written on his return from the First World War, are particularly moving.  There are some well-known names in the correspondents, such as Henry Moore and Kenneth Clarke, and some infamous, such as Anthony Blunt.

Robbins' diary extract (1944)
Extract from Bretton Woods diary, 1944, ROBBINS/6/1/2

There are detailed diaries covering the period during and following the Second World War when Lionel Robbins was part of the Economic Section of the War Cabinet sent to the U.S.A. for the post-war economic negotiations.  These diaries, including one from the Bretton Woods conference, give a personal account of some defining moments in post-war economic and political history.  The diaries from the Hot Spring conference of 1943 and Bretton Woods in 1944 have been digitised.  Complementing his professional reports on his war-time work in the U.S.A are the letters he sent home to his wife Iris.  He would write to her at least once a week, often once every few days, as well as writing to his children.

The period at LSE known as the Troubles, in the late 1960s, is well documented in the collection. This was a period of student unrest and protest at LSE following controversy over the appointment of a new Director.  As a member of the Court of Governors Lionel Robbins held copies of the minutes and papers of meetings that determined how the organisation would respond to student protests.  He also collected examples of the student protest publications and press reports on the situation.  The LSE Library Appeal which resulted in the successful purchase and renovation of the current LSE library premises was headed by Lionel Robbins.  The collection contains minutes and papers relating to this appeal alongside correspondence and examples of the successful marketing campaigns and strategies.

Robbins' speeches on HE 1963-1977
Speeches by Lionel Robbins on higher education, 1963 – 1977 ROBBINS/8/1/3

Throughout his life Lionel continued to write and publish books and articles on economics and the collection contains the finished products as well as drafts, proofs and correspondence with publishers.  His work as Chairman of the Financial Times is also documented.   Lecture notes, student references, correspondence with students and former students and economics department circulars provide a detailed account of his work teaching at LSE, which he continued on a part-time basis until 1981 – 1982.

Members of the Committee on Higher Education, photograph (1962)
Members of the Committee on Higher Education visiting Stanford University, 1962, ROBBINS/13/5

In 1960 Lionel Robbins was invited to head a Committee on Higher Education to review current full-time higher education provision in the UK and advise the Government on long-term development.  The report became known as the Robbins Report which essentially aimed to show that higher education could benefit all and its access should be expanded to everyone.  This month marks the 50th anniversary of the final submission of the Robbins Report.  The official papers for the Report are held at the National Archives however the Lionel Robbins Papers contains correspondence about the Report, as well as subsequent speeches and articles written by Robbins on higher education.  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Robbins Report LSE has organised a public event ‘Shaping Higher Education Fifty Years After Robbins: what views to the future?’ on Tuesday 22nd October.

Robbins' artillery notebook (1916)
Artillery notebook kept by Lionel Robbins, 1916, ROBBINS/2/3

The Lionel Robbins catalogue on the Archives Hub now makes available the variety of subjects covered in the Lionel Robbins papers, and opens the collection up to new researchers.

Kathryn Hannan, Project Archivist
‘The economist and the wider world: the papers of Lionel Robbins (1898 – 1984)’

Useful links

Lionel Robbins Papers on the LSE archives catalogue –

From 22nd October 2013 an exhibition The economist and the wider world Lionel Robbins (1898 – 1984), will be available on the LSE Digital Library

Lionel Robbins project blog posts on LSE archive blog Out of the Box



Sentimental Journey: a focus on travel in the archives

Archives Hub Feature for August 2013

Steel engraving of Capri from 1875 named Picturesque Europe
© Image is in the public domain

The season of summer often brings hopes and plans for holidays and this month we’re looking at the wider theme of travel.

The hundreds of collections relating to travel featured in the Archives Hub shed light on multiple aspects of travel, from royalty to the working classes, and encompassing touring, business, exploration and research, the work of missionaries and nomadic cultures.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine.

Travel diaries

There are a number of travel diaries recording impressions of, and experiences in, the UK, Europe and beyond from a bygone era. ‘Grand tours’, leisurely and often luxurious, were the domain of the more privileged classes, where sometimes business and pleasure were combined. In more recent times, the pursuit of knowledge, education and ideas has motivated similar educational journeys.


Thomas Moody, journal of a tour through Switzerland and Italy, 1822.

Beatrice Webb, A summer holiday in Scotland, 1884.

Harriet Susan Miller: Continental Tour Journal, c. 1856.

Watercolour paintings and photographs of Canada by an unidentified artist, 1884.
The paintings and photographs are held within a large album, providing a record of a journey by unidentified travellers to Canada from Liverpool in 1884.

Extracts from the journal of William George Meredith during a trip to Spain and the East in the years 1830-1831.
Accompanied by Benjamin Disraeli, together with associated correspondence.

Diary of travels through Italy and France, compiled by Sir William Trumbull, 1664-1665.

Nassau William Senior Papers, 1830-1864.
Copies of journals kept by Nassau William Senior recording his visits to France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Algeria and Egypt between 1850 and 1862.

Papers of Sir Leonard David Gammans and Lady Ann Muriel Gammans, ne Paul, 1916-1971.
Diaries, notebooks, etc. of Leonard David Gammans, 1916-1956; diaries. etc. of Ann Muriel Gammans, 1918-1970; tourist brochures and other printed material concerning South Africa, [1965-1971].

J.R.T. Pollard Papers, 1930-1999.
The collection consists of diaries and papers of J.R.T. Pollard. The diaries include details of the author’s extensive travel, particularly in Europe and observations regarding his years of army service in Africa (1941-1945).

Manuscript Itinerary of Henry III of England.
Not quite a diary, but of special note, is the late 19th Century Manuscript itinerary showing the geographical whereabouts of Henry III, where known, for all dates from 1216 to 1272.

Business and work-related travel


Records of the United Commercial Travellers’ Association (Nottingham Branch), 1908-1975.
The collection comprises accounts from 1932-1967, Committee minutes from 1908-1967 and registers from 1920-1975.

Papers of James Craig Henderson, fl. 1941-1950, commercial traveller.
Commercial traveller in the Middle East.

Papers of John Hunter, fl 1865-1912, carpenter’s mate, Royal Navy.

John William Ramsay, 13th Earl of Dalhousie: Naval Notebook, HMS Galatea , 1869-1871.

Papers of John Wylie, merchant, Glasgow, Scotland, 1809-1840.

Household book of James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews, 1663-1666.
Household account book of James Sharp, archbishop of St Andrews, kept by his secretary George Martin of Claremont, including details of journeys to Edinburgh and London.

Exploration and research

Photograph of Icebergs, Greenland Sea by Frank Illingworth.
Photograph of Greenland Sea by Frank Illingworth. Copyright © Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

Contrasting with travel for pure pleasure, was travel for the purpose of exploration, discovery and research.


William Gibb: Journals of Voyages in the Carnatic and the Yangtze River, 1838-1844.

Johan Hjort collection, 1912.
The collection comprises of correspondence by Hjort to polar explorer William Speirs Bruce (leader of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904).

Michael William Leonard Tutton: Natural History Diary, 1930-1932.
Natural history diary kept while Tutton was a King’s Scholar at Eton, which was awarded the Natural History Prize, 1930-1931. The diary contains notes on occurrences of insects, especially butterflies and moths, and occasionally birds and mammals.

Henry Seebohm: Ornithological Notebook.
Unfinished notes of visits to Glossop, Worksop, Ashopton and other places in Derbyshire; to the Farne Islands and Coquet Islands, Northumberland; to Flamborough Head, Yorkshire; and to Asia Minor (Constantinople and Smyrna) in 1872. The notebook also includes some watercolour sketches.



Memoirs of Elizabeth Thomson, 1847-1918.
Teacher, missionary, traveller and suffragette, c1914.

Diary of the Rev. David Cargill, 1 May 1842 – 29 Mar 1843.
Diary kept on his second missionary journey to Tonga.

Papers of George Murray Davidson Short, 1890-1978.
Arts graduate and missionary, Glasgow, Scotland 1927.

Alexander Gillon Macalpine.
Malawi missionary papers and linguistic studies, 1893-1964.

Records of the Calabar Mission, 1849-1969.

St Joseph’s Society Missionary Society (Mill Hill Missionaries), 1865- .

Romanies and Gypsies

Romany Vardo of the English Gypsies
© Image is in the public domain


The Gypsy Collections, c.1860-1998.
The collection consists of two separately-catalogued but interlinked parts, the Gypsy Lore Society Archive (GLS) and the Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection (SMGC).

Manuscripts relating to gypsies and other travellers collected by Sir Angus Fraser, 1752-1976.

Georg Althaus Photographs (including Hanns Weltzel Papers and Photographs).
1907 – 1960s.

Letters of Jeanie Robertson, 1954-1956.
The Scottish traditional folk singer Jeanie Robertson is regarded as a seminal figure in the music culture of Scotland’s travelling people. The collection includes letters from Robertson to the poet Hamish Henderson (1919-2002).

Miscellaneous and related information

The Records of the Traveller’s Aid Society, 1885-1939.
The Travellers’ Aid Society was initiated in 1885 by the Young Women’s Christian Association to aid female passengers arriving at ports and railway stations, where they were met by accredited station workers who reported to the Travellers Aid Society Committee.

Cold Comfort, The Franklin expeditions (previous feature).

Charles Darwin and the Beagle Collections in the University of Cambridge: a Voyage Round the World (previous feature).

Romanies and Gypsiologists (previous feature).

200 years of railways (previous feature).

Sea-Fever: Britain’s maritime heritage (previous feature).

Also of interest

Perthshire Cant: Secret language of Scottish travellers, BBC History:

20 Gorgeous Posters From a Time When Travel Was Glamorous blog post: