Ely Devons Papers

Scope and Content

The papers of Ely Devons are a portion of a larger archive, the greater of part of which is held at the London School of Economics.

The most significant proportion of the archive are a series of unpublished lectures and talks, and draft articles composed by Devons between 1945 and 1960. (Similar material for other dates is held by the LSE)

The archive includes some papers accumulated by Professor Alec Cairncross, including letters from Devons concerning personal and professional matters (EDP/3) and papers relating to Cairncross's role as editor of Devons' Papers on planning and economic management (Manchester University Press 1970) (EDP/4). Professor Cairncross passed these papers to the Devons family at a later date to be included in the archive.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ely Devons (1913-1967) was a British economist. Devons was born in Bangor, north Wales, the son of a rabbi. His brother was Samuel Devons, who was Langworthy professor of physics at the University of Manchester.

Devons graduated from the University of Manchester in 1934, and thereafter undertook research in economics. He worked for the Joint Committee of Cotton Trades Organizations in Manchester between 1935 and 1939. During the War, he was a statistician at the Cotton Control, Ministry of Supply (1939-1940), statistician at the Central Economic Information Service (1940-1941), and chief statistician, and later director of planning at the Ministry of Aircraft Production from 1941 to 1945. Post-war, Devons was appointed reader in economic statistics at the University of Manchester in 1945, and was promoted to the Robert Ottley chair in applied economics in 1948. At Manchester, he ran a well-regarded economics seminar with Professor Arthur Lewis, and he also collaborated with Professor Max Gluckman in interdisciplinary work on economics and anthropology. Devons' main areas of interest were the economics of planning in the public sector, the role of economists and economic forecasting in government, and economic statistics.

Devons moved to the London School of Economic as professor of commerce in 1959. He was the author of Planning in practice (1950), Introduction to British economic statistics (1956), and Essays in economics (1961). He was a member of the council of the Royal Economic Society, 1956-1964, and a member of the Local Government Commission from 1959 to 1965. Devons married Estelle Wine, a concert pianist, in 1939, and they had two sons and a daughter. He retired early in 1965 due to ill-health and died in late 1967.


The arrangement largely follows that established for the archive by David Devons, and no reference has been made to the separated material held by the LSE (which is uncatalogued). 

  • EDP/1 -Lectures, reports, draft articles and other unpublished writings
  • EDP/2 - Other documents
  • EDP/3 - Letters to Alec Cairncross
  • EDP/4 - Other Cairncross material.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the Library by Mr David Devons, Ely Devons' son, in July 2012. A further accession was made in September 2016 (EDP/2/9).

Separated Material

The London School of Economics holds the larger portion of the Devons papers, (ref. Devons) which consists of notes, correspondence, press cuttings and printed matter on subjects such as British industries (including aviation, tin, steel, cotton and coal), prices and wages, restrictive practices, and economic development overseas as well as Devons' work for the Local Government Commission. The collection also contains some personal papers including bank books and university notebooks.

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 Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


None expected.

Related Material

Alec Cairncross's papers are held by Glasgow University Archives Service http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb248-dc/106; these do not obviously include any material relating to Devons.


Geographical Names