Papers of Chamberlain, Sir Joseph Austen (1863-1937)

Scope and Content

Papers of Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, 1931-1938, relate to his time as Chairman of the Court of Governors and member of the Board of Management of the School of Tropical Medicine, and the aftermath of his death. Correspondence regards Chamberlain's role on the Court of Governors and Board of Management; information on donations and subscriptions; correspondence with his family after his death and on the commissioning of a portrait of him after his death; a note on his relationship with the School and letters to the Chairman of the Chadwick Trust.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain was born in Birmingham in 1863 and was the elder son of Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), industrialist, Mayor of Birmingham, Member of Parliament and several times Minister of the Crown. He was also half-brother to Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), Prime Minister.

Austen Chamberlain's Parliamentary career spanned 1892-1937, and he was deeply involved in party, national and international politics as the supporter of his father, as a leader in the Conservative/Unionist party and as elder statesman. He held offices including Junior Whip, 1893; Civil Lord of the Admiralty, 1895-1900; Financial Secretary to the Treasury, 1900-1902; Postmaster General, 1902-1903; Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1903-1905 and 1919-1921; Secretary of State for India 1915-1917; Leader of the House and Lord Privy Seal, 1921-1922; Foreign Secretary, 1924-1929, and First Lord of the Admiralty, 1931. Chamberlain was made a knight in 1925 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.

Postgraduate medical education in London is deeply indebted to the Chamberlain family. Joseph Chamberlain was responsible for the foundation in 1899 of the London School of Tropical Medicine for which Sir Austen Chamberlain at a later date raised an endowment fund. Neville Chamberlain, as Minister of Health, laid the foundation stone of the School in 1926 and in 1932, Sir Austen became Chairman of its Court of Governors.

He was a member of the Board of Management of the School and regularly attended the meetings of its Board, giving an immense amount of personal attention both to the business management of the School and to the work of the scientific staff; instrumental in incorporating the Ross Institute in the School, 1934; and worked to secure the School's endowment, donations and subscriptions.

It was perhaps typical of the pains he took to make himself intimate with the affairs of the School that, whatever the other claims on his time might be, he invariably attended the annual Students' dinner and devoted his whole evening to talking with individual students. Sir Austin died in 1937.


Arranged into two series: papers and correspondence, 1931-1938, and letters to the Chairman of the Chadwick Trust, 1932.

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Acquisition Information


Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available online.

Archivist's Note

Sources: Archives Hub Birmingham collection on Chamberlain and note in file on Chamberlain's relationship with School. Edited by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist.

Related Material

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine holds additional correspondence and photographs of Chamberlain within Ross Institute collection and Admin collection.

Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department (AC); The National Archives (FO 800/256-63); Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts (MS Addison dep c 131, 134, 155 and MSS Asquith); British Library, Manuscript Collections (ADD MSS 49735-36); National Archives of Scotland (GD433); Parliamentary Archives (BBK C/79 and BLU); Shropshire Archives (S.R.O. 4629) contain papers relating to Chamberlain.