Leonard Behrens Papers: Collection-level Description

Scope and Content

The archive consists of materials relating to various aspects of Behrens' professional and public interests as well as being an important source for provincial Liberalism in the mid-twentieth century. It includes his Behrens' diaries 1915-1917 and pocket diaries 1940-1974, and personal correspondence and family correspondence. There is correspondence on the international situation 1938-1940 and files on the United Nations (1946-1975), Manchester Arts Trust, the BBC, Serbian Relief Fund 1916-1919, the Hallé Orchestra and the Liberal Party (8 files and 1 envelope), together with files on individuals such as Norman Angell, Kathleen Courtney, Basil Liddell Hart, and Eleanor Rathbone. The collection includes a number of press cuttings books on the Irish civil war, the United Nations Association, the Hall, the Liberal Party, the Abdication of Edward VIII and papers concerning the Manchester Rapid Transit Network.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leonard Behrens was a prominent figure in the Liberal Party in Manchester in the twentieth century. Born in 1890 into a family of Manchester textile merchants, he was educated at Manchester Grammar School, Rugby School and the University of Manchester. Behrens was a partner and director in the family firm of Sir Jacob Behrens from 1920 to 1954. He was deputy chairman of the Cotton and Rayon Merchants' Association from 1939-1942 and in 1954. During the Second World War he was a member of the Manchester Information Committee and a lecturer to HM Forces. He was President of Manchester Statistical Society, 1942-1944.

A life-long Liberal, Behrens contested the Withington division of Manchester in the 1945 and 1950 general elections. He was President of the Liberal Party from 1955-1957 and chairman of the Party's executive committee from 1959-1961. He was also active in the United Nations Association, serving as a vice-president. Behrens was knighted in 1970 and died in 1978.


The Behrens papers are currently arranged into the following series:

  • /1 United Nations
  • /2 Diaries
  • /3 Letters
  • /4 Liberal Party
  • /5 Files on Individuals
  • /6 Manchester Arts Trust
  • /7 BBC
  • /8 Serbian Relief Fund
  • /9 Maps
  • /10 Hallé Orchestra
  • /11 Cuttings
  • /12 Miscellaneous material

Access Information

The collection may contain personal data about living individuals, and readers are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 in their use of the material.

This finding aid also contains personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

Behrens's correspondence with the Manchester Guardian , 1951-1956 is contained in the Guardian archive, held at JRUL. His correspondence with Clement Davies, leader of the Liberals in the post-war period, is in the Davies Papers at the National Library of Wales, Department of Manuscripts and Records. The National Register of Archives also records Behrens' material in the Liddell Hart papers, held at King's College, London, and the Gilbert Murray papers, held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Geographical Names