The Blunkett Archives

Scope and Content

Personal and professional papers of David Blunkett, former MP and Home Secretary. The collection dates from his childhood to the present day and includes political correspondence, policy papers, material relating to his constituency work in Sheffield, press cuttings, speeches, diaries, school reports, personal correspondence, book proofs, sound recordings and photographs.

The archive is strongest in the period running up to the election of a Labour government in 1997, and includes extensive material relating to Lord Blunkett's roles in opposition as shadow spokesperson for local government and the Poll Tax, shadow minister for health and shadow education minister. It also contains Blunkett's correspondence relating to his work on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party from 1983-1997, including material relating to Labour Party strategy, policy formation and the modernisation and reorganisation of the party following the losses of the 1987 and 1992 general elections.

The collection is accruing as Lord Blunkett regularly adds material relating to his work in the House of Lords.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Blunkett was born in Sheffield in 1947. Blind from birth he was sent to a council boarding school for the visually impaired in Sheffield at the age of four, and later attended The Royal Normal School for the Blind in Shropshire. When his father died in an industrial accident, the family were left virtually penniless and fought a long battle for compensation from his father's employer.

On leaving school Blunkett worked as a typist for the East Midlands Gas Board, whilst studying at night school to obtain the academic qualifications required to further his education. He was eventually offered a place to study Political Theory at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 1972.

At the age of 22, Blunkett entered politics as a Labour councillor for Southey Green Ward and in 1980 he became Leader of Sheffield Council. In 1987 Blunkett was elected MP for Sheffield Brightside, a seat he held for 28 years. Blunkett went on the hold several positions in the Labour Shadow Cabinet and was also a member of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, playing a key role in the modernisation of the party.

Blunkett was appointed Secretary of State for Education after Labour's landslide election victory in 1997, and Home Secretary in 2001. He held the position of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2005, before leaving the cabinet at the end of that year. Blunkett remained an MP until his retirement in 2015, when he was awarded a peerage and was appointed Professor of Politics in Practice at the University of Sheffield


The collection is arranged into the following sections:

  • General correspondence and papers: correspondence with constituents, non-constituents and organisations
  • Correspondence and papers: Shadow local government, 1987-1992
  • Correspondence and papers: Shadow Health, 1992-1994
  • Correspondence and papers: Shadow Education and Employment, 1994-1997
  • Correspondence and papers: Secretary of State for Education, 1997-2001
  • Correspondence and papers: Home Affairs, 2001-2004
  • Correspondence and papers: Work and Pensions, 2005
  • Memoir papers: correspondence and press cuttings, 1999-2005
  • Personal papers: press cuttings, school reports, photographs, correspondence, ephemera and awards
  • Press cuttings
  • Speeches, articles and public statements
  • Labour Party (National)
  • Labour Party (Local)
  • Elections: general and local elections
  • Literary: published copies of books, pamphlets, journal articles, and proofs and correspondence with publishers
  • Appointments, visits and engagements: diaries, official visits, conferences
  • Reports:official reports mainly published by the DFEE and the Home Office
  • Audio-visual material: radio broadcasts, speeches, letters read onto tape, television broadcasts
  • Born digital files: emails, documents saved on memory sticks, digital press cuttings

Access Information

Available in our reading room by appointment. Some records are subject to closure under data protection legislation.

Acquisition Information

The majority of the collection was donated to the University of Sheffield upon Lord Blunkett's retirement from the House of Commons in May 2015. A further significant accession was transferred to the University in 2017 from Sheffield Archives, where it had been deposited by Blunkett's constituency office in Sheffield in the 1990s. Lord Blunkett continues to add further material on a regular basis, mainly relating to his work in the House of Lords.

Other Finding Aids

A complete listing for this collection is available on The University of Sheffield's online archive catalogue, Discover Our Archives .

Conditions Governing Use

Please contact Special Collections, University of Sheffield Library, to discuss the reproduction of any material from this collection.

Custodial History

The material within this collection comes from a number of sources including Blunkett's constituency office in Sheffield, his House of Commons office in London, and personal material from his home.


Further accruals expected.