Papers of H. Malcolm Fraser

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 86 notebooks as well as articles, offprints, photographs and correspondence, all relating to bees and beekeeping.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Malcolm Fraser was born in Wandsworth in 1874, the first of four children born of the second marriage of James Fraser, a prosperous Colonial Broker who had two adult children from his first marriage. Malcolm took a B.A. degree from London University and became a schoolmaster at various small private schools before obtaining a post at Alleyne's Grammar School in Stone, Staffordshire where he remained for the rest of his teaching career, eventually becoming Headmaster.

Malcolm Fraser entered enthusiastically into Staffordshire life, in particular as a member of the North Staffordshire Field Club, a society researching the natural history and archaeology of the area. It was probably through this association that he became interested in bees and beekeeping and it was certainly the bequest, in 1925, of two Latin works on agriculture from another member of the club, the Reverend Thomas Barns, vicar of Hilderstone near Stone, that formed the basis for Fraser's extensive collection of books on bees. Malcolm Fraser began to research the history of beekeeping and eventually submitted a thesis on Beekeeping in antiquity to London University which was accepted for a PhD in 1930 and published in book form the following year. In 1936 he also published a translation of the entries in the Domesday Book relating to Staffordshire and dedicated it to the memory of Thomas Barns and to his friends in the Field Club.

On his retirement Malcolm Fraser and his wife moved south in the 1940s to the leafy suburbs of London, first to Pinner and then to Northwood. He continued to keep bees and to write and lecture on the subject and engaged in correspondence with many other experts and amateurs. His book collection grew throughout the 1940s and 1950s but he was always willing to lend even his rarest volumes to fellow enthusiasts. Malcolm Fraser was also closely involved with the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA), serving as a member of the Council until the reorganisation in 1945. He then became Chairman of the Central Association of Bee-keepers, a body newly formed to encourage the individual scientific approach to the subject, rather than focussing on local groups.

Eventually, after a long and active retirement, H. Malcolm Fraser died in 1970 at the age of 95.

Access Information

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Gift of H. Malcolm Fraser, 1969-71


This description was written by Gil Skidmore

Other Finding Aids

Item level lists are available in the archives reading room.

Related Material

H. Malcolm Fraser's gift to Reading University Library included his collection of over 200 books, more than 50 of which have letters, receipts and articles affixed to them.Details of the book collection can be found on RUL's Unicorn catalogue