Leslie Weatherhead Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains a diversity of material relating to Leslie Weatherhead as a popular and controversial author, preacher, lecturer and counsellor who was a pioneer in relating psychology, religion and healing in the 20th century. The collection includes his personal diary in two volumes up to 1927 (closed until 2030); his scrapbook albums, 1927-1969, being a chronological record of his life and work; presscuttings of newspaper articles written by him, 1934-1954; albums of cuttings and printed materials relating to his tours of Australia in 1951 and America in 1954; presscutting volumes containing reviews of his publications; sermon cards, texts and copies of his sermons, including manuscripts of the first two he delivered as a teenage Methodist local preacher in 1911; sound recordings of some of his sermons; copies of his articles and lectures; a series of his notebooks; research materials for his sermons; and notes for his biographer. The collection also contains letters and copies of letters to and from Weatherhead with a range of individuals including ministerial colleagues, friends, people who had cause to be grateful for his ministry.

In addition the Leslie Weatherhead Collection includes an almost complete set of Weatherhead's publications and a set of City Temple Tidings, later retitled City Temple Church Magazine,1939-1983. This is the monthly magazine of the Congregational church where Weatherhead was minister and is a rich source for his sermons which are printed in full together with his "Minister's Letter" and other articles. Edited transcripts of interviews, conducted with people who knew Weatherhead, have also been added to the collection. The primary purpose of these interviews was to ascertain views of him as an evangelist.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leslie Dixon Weatherhead (1893-1976), Methodist minister and author was the son of Andrew Weatherhead, a Scottish Presbyterian and Elizabeth Weatherhead. He trained for the Methodist ministry at Richmond Theological College. He served as a chaplain to the Devonshire Regiment in Mesopotamia during the First World War and then in 1919 took charge of the English Methodist Church in Madras. He returned to England in 1922 firstly becoming minister at the Oxford Road Wesleyan Church, Manchester, 1922-1925 and then at Brunswick Methodist Church in Leeds, 1925-1936. In 1936, he became minister of the City Temple in London, a Congregational church where he stayed until his retirement in 1960. He remained a Methodist throughout his career and was twice elected President of the Methodist Conference. He established a national and international reputation as a preacher, counsellor, author and broadcaster, his hallmarks being a passionate simplicity, sympathy with the needs of ordinary people, a conviction of the day to day relevance of the gospel, and a questioning of many traditional theological assumptions. His numerous writings covered a broad range of subjects, tackled in popular terms, but he became especially well-known in establishing a partnership between religion and psychiatry. He was involved in establishing the City Temple Psychological Clinic where he worked with a team of medical doctors with psychological training. He was convinced that much physical and mental illness was caused by the loss of true religion, and he was especially outspoken on matters of sex, even at a time when the topic was still taboo in religious circles. He published extensively including more than 30 books. Some of the most popular titles are The Transforming Friendship (published in 1928, and which sold more than 100,000 in the English edition) and The Christian Agnostic, 1965.

Reference: The University of Birmingham Research Libraries Bulletin (No. 1, Winter 1994). ; The University of Birmingham Research Libraries Bulletin ( No. 4, Spring 1996). ; Lynne Price, Leslie Weatherhead and British Mission, 'More Questions than Answers', in Lynne Price, Juan Sepulveda & Graeme Smith (eds) Mission Matters, Studien zur interkulturellen Geschichte des Christentums, (Bd.103r, (Studies in the intercultural history of Christianity; Vol. 103), Frankfurt am Main, New York: Peter Lang, c1997). ; Who was who, 1971-1980.

Conditions Governing Access

Open with the exception of two volumes of Leslie Weatherhead's diary up to 1927 which are closed until 2030. Please contact the University Archivist for further details.

Other Finding Aids

This collection is uncatalogued. A paper list of Weatherhead's sermons on cassette is available in the Special Collections Department.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

The Leslie Weatherhead Collection was established in the early 1990s as a result of an initiative taken jointly by the University Library and members of the University's Department of Theology, where Weatherhead's work is studied in relation to contemporary mission. Material has been acquired from a large number of sources, including numerous gifts from Weatherhead's family, friends and admirers. Some of these were acquired in response to publicity about the collection in several national religious journals in 1992; others were received as a result of the support given by the Friends of the City Temple. The latest deposit to date was received in 2000.

Accruals

Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division holds some of Weatherhead's correspondence with publishers, 1923-1944 (GB 233 Dep 247 342)

Bibliography

Dr Lynne Price used the collection extensively during the course of her research for her University of Birmingham doctoral thesis, Faithful uncertainty: Leslie D. Weatherhead's methodology of creative evangelism, 1995. Two other publications make use of this collection: Professor Kingsley Weatherhead's biography of his father, published in 1975 under the title Leslie Weatherhead: a personal portrait and John Travell's biography of Weatherhead Doctor of Souls (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, c1999).