Beginnings:
The History of Higher Education in Bloomsbury and Westminster

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Institute of Education, University of London

King's College London

London School of Economics

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Royal Holloway, University of London

School of Oriental and African Studies

Senate House Library, University of London

University College London

University of Westminster

About the Project

The 'Beginnings' project came about as a result of an informal meeting of Higher Education archivists in June 2005. The theme of the annual Archive Awareness Campaign had recently been announced and the group of ten archivists decided that a joint website on the foundations of their institutions would provide an interesting and informative project.

Many of the higher education institutions in central London have been in existence for over 100 years and have played a vital part in the life of the city. All of the participating colleges, institutes and universities have extensive archive collections. These archives usually contain historical papers relating to their institutions, but also hold a wealth of archive material on other subjects. This website will focus both on the historical buildings scattered around the Bloomsbury and Westminster area, and on the valuable archives held there.

Participating institutions:

Institute of Commonwealth Studies: The Institute of Commonwealth Studies Archives date from the 18th century to the present and include material from across the Commonwealth, as well as the records of a number of pan-Commonwealth organisations. Particular strengths include the West Indies and Caribbean, Southern Africa, and collections of political ephemera.

Institute of Education, University of London: The Institute of Education Archives hold material intended to reflect the broadest possible range of issues and concerns surrounding teaching and lifelong learning in past, present and future societies. This includes all levels of education from pre-school and school through to further, higher, teacher and adult education, in formal, informal and experimental settings. It includes research, practice, policy and thought in education and related areas.

King's College London: "King's College Archives and Corporate Records Services (ACRS), houses the institutional records of the College, which was founded in 1828, the records of bodies with which it has merged including Guy's and St Thomas's Medical Schools, and a wealth of private research papers. Also based at King's is the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives containing more than 700 collections of the papers of senior twentieth century British defence personnel."

London School of Economics: The LSE Archives documents the history of the social sciences, holding a wide range of primary source material and rare books relating to British political, economic and social history and the history of anthropology. Our holdings also include the archive and journal collections of the Hall-Carpenter Archives, a national resource for the history of gay activism.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: The archives of the School date from the mid-nineteenth century and consist of correspondence and personal papers of scientific, medical and public health professionals involved in the search for preventative measures and cures to diseases including malaria, filariasis, cholera and leprosy. There are also administrative papers of the School, an extensive photographic collection, and scientific and medical artefacts. These resources relate to the United Kingdom and countries in Asia and Africa.

Royal Holloway, University of London: Both Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges were established as pioneering women's colleges in the 19th century. The College Archives therefore contain some of the earliest records relating to the history of higher education for women. They chronicle the foundation and development of the colleges. There are also over 50 collections of personal papers, which are widely consulted for evidence of the pioneering work that many early students and staff, among them academics, writers, diarists and philanthropists, were involved in, and the connections which they had in many important spheres of nineteenth and twentieth century life.

School of Oriental and African Studies: SOAS Library holds an important and expanding collection of archives and manuscripts relating to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Two thirds of these comprise archives and papers documenting the activities of a number of major British missionary societies, and of individual missionaries, making SOAS the leading centre in the United Kingdom for mission studies. There are significant holdings of business archives, a substantial number of collections relating to East Asia, rich African language and literature holdings, and an immense range of manuscripts and scholarly papers relating to East Asia, South and South East Asia and the Pacific.

Senate House, University of London: Senate House Library holds the archives of the University of London, and also over 1,100 separate collections of archives and manuscripts. Amongst the latter are family papers of the social investigator Charles Booth (1840-1916), archives of the author and journalist Paul Tabori (1908-1974), and the Fuller Collection of 13 th-20 th century documents.

University College London: Of the archives’ holdings at UCL the largest are the institutional records of the College dating back to the early 19 th century, which include those of associated and merged bodies such as the Institute of Archaeology. They also include a large collection of photographs illustrating the life and times of the College’s history, and the archives of University College Hospital, which are held on behalf of the Hospitals Trust. Almost as extensive (over 2000 items) are the archives of banking and trading companies with interests in South America. As well as these, there are over 500 collections altogether of papers of writers, notably George Orwell, scientists, notably Sir Francis Galton, politicians, notably Hugh Gaitskell and Lord Brougham, and scholars in a range of disciplines and fields. There is also a smaller group of manuscript items and smaller collections dating from the medieval period to late 18th century; and extensive family and community archives, particularly from the Anglo-Jewish community in the 19 th and 20 th centuries.

University of Westminster: The University of Westminster Archive Services holds the records of the University’s predecessor bodies, going back to the Royal Polytechnic Institution which was founded in 1838. The Archive also holds records of the Polytechnic Sports and Social Clubs, together with a small number of collections deposited or donated to support research, including the papers of Max Lock.