Harry Street Papers

Scope and Content

Harry Street was a renowned legal scholar and jurist, known for his work on the law of torts and civil liberties. This small collection of papers includes his notes and writings relating to torts, especially his Law of Torts, and Freedom, the Individual and the Law, the work for which he is best known to the general public. Most of the papers are typescript notes, cuttings, photocopies and published material such as law reports, which Street used for his research. There are also typescripts of revised editions of various publications (many of Street's publications went through several editions). The collection contains very little correspondence, and there is very little relating to his teaching work at the University of Manchester.

The collection has not yet been described in detail. The contents are as follows:

Box 1 Notes relating to revised editions of Freedom, the Individual and the Law, chapter 1-8 [appears to relate to the 4th edition, published in 1978, although some of the material in the files is earlier].

Box 2 As Box, 1 notes for revisions of Freedom, the Individual and the Law, chapter 9-12. There is also a folder predominantly of reviews of the book (1963-1982), and two folders of correspondence (1976-1984), some relating to the publication of the book, but in other cases more general in nature, where it appears individuals were seeking Street's views and advice, having read this book.

Box 3 Law of Torts, papers relating to revisions, 3rd, 4th and 6th editions (1965-1978).

Box 4 Notes on torts

  • "/1 Medical"
  • /2 "US and Australia"
  • /3 "Cases 1971-1975"

Box 5

  • /1 Tort: lectures [1950s-1970s]
  • /2 Notes on "Defamation"
  • /3 "Privacy" [1960s]
  • /4 Tort [1950s-1970s]

Box 6

  • /1 Notes on "Negligence" [1950s-1970s]
  • /2 Notes on "Trespass, Land" [1970s]
  • /3 Notes on "Occupier's Liability" [1970s]
  • /4 Notes on "the Right to Know" [1960s-1970s]

Box 7 Notes 

  • /1 Contempt of Court Act 1981
  • /2 "Chattels"
  • /3 "TV and radio" [1950s-1960s], includes correspondence with the Lord Chancellor's Office about their role in reviewing theatrical plays.
  • /4 "Aliens"
  • /5 "Damages" [1970s]
  • /6 "Thalidomide"

Box 8 Notes 

  • "Police" [1950s]
  • "Open government" [1970s]
  • "Negligence - specific" [1960s-1980s]
  • "Strict Liability" [1960s-1980s]

Box 9

  • /1 Press Complaints Commission
  • /2 Notes re Torts
  • /3 "Valuers, Halsbury"
  • /4 typescript of a book (incomplete) relating to religion and the law [it is unclear whether Street was the author, but it is assumed he was]

Box 10

  • Typescript with textual correction for 7th edition of Law of torts c.1982.
  • Notes for Street's lectures on tort, University of Manchester, 1979-1980
  • "Tort 1983, reported cases"

Box 11 Three folders of notes on personal injuries law [1960s-1970s].

Box 12 Papers relating to reviews on articles on torts for the International Encyclopaedia of Comparative Law [1970s].

Box 13 Two folders of miscellaneous notes (mixed) relating to torts and civil liberties law.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harry Street was born in Farnworth, Lancashire, in 1919, the only son of a builder and a school teacher. He was educated at Farnworth Grammar School, before entering the University of Manchester to study law. He graduated with first class honours in 1938, at the age of nineteen. He was then articled to a Bolton solicitor, Philip Porter, and in 1940 he took his Law Society finals with distinction.

During the Second World War, Street had served with the RAF. His youthful academic distinction had been recognised by the University of Manchester, which appointed him as lecturer in law in 1946. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1951. During his first period as a Manchester academic, Street had studied for a year at Columbia University, where he had been much impressed by the "case method" of teaching law. He later became an exponent of this mode of teaching.

In 1952, Street was appointed professor of law at the University of Nottingham, helping build up what was then a small department. In 1956, he returned to Manchester as professor of public and common law (the title was changed to English law in 1960). At both Nottingham and Manchester, Street introduced new methods of teaching, including the case law approach in his lectures on tort (for which he became well known), and legal method courses, which taught students the fundamentals of analysing cases, interpreting statutes, counselling and courtroom advocacy. In the early 1960s, he helped overhaul of the Manchester LL.B degree.

Street became known as an effective communicator and interpeter of English law in a series of publications. His first significant publication was co-authored with J A G Griffith, The principles of administrative law (1951). This was followed by A comparative study of governmental liability (1953), and The law of torts, (1956) which became the major textbook on the subject, and went through seven editions in Street's lifetime. In the 1960s, Street extended his interest to personal damages and the laws on civil liberties, publishing Principles of the law of damages (1962), and in 1963, Freedom, the individual and the law as a Pelican original. This was a brief but accessible account of current English civil liberties law, and, appearing at an opportune time, attracted a readership which went well beyond the scholarly legal community. In 1968, Street published his Hamlyn lectures as Justice and the welfare state, which investigated the legal workings of administrative tribunals in areas of health and social policy. Street was interested in presenting legal issues to the public, and was consultant editor of a highly successful Reader's Digest publication You and your rights, and also appeared on Granada TV's programme This is your right.

Street was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1968, and appointed a CBE in 1978. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Constitution (Kilbrandon) between 1969 and 1973, and a member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, 1973-1980. Street was married and had three children. He died in 1984


The collection has not yet been arranged into an archival order, and is currently organised by box number.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive 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 1998, 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

Street's papers were bequeathed to the University Library in 1984.

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

Vice-Chancellor's Archive, VCA/7/496 for Street's appointment to the chair of law in 1956.


J. C. Smith, 'Street, Harry (1919-1984)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/64546, accessed 18 Jan 2017], which has been used in compiling this description. Street is briefly discussed in Maureen Mulholland, The faculty of law of Manchester University: a brief history, 1855-2000 [University of Manchester 2007] .

Geographical Names