Wood, George Henry, Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises the majority of the personal reference library of George Henry Wood which was first deposited with Huddersfield Technical College as a long term loan in 1926 and subsequently gifted to the institution in 1948 upon Wood's death. The section of the library Wood loaned the College was predominately the Economic and statistical works and due to various subsequent removals to other institutions and some loss the collection we currently hold is not the complete original deposit. Wood gave the collection the title of 'The Library of a Sociologist' which is a good summary of the overarching theme of the collection. The majority of documents included in the library are pamphlets, either loose or bound together, covering social issues such as industrialisation, the economy and the welfare of the working people. The remaining documents are mostly biography books and manuscripts written by Wood himself. Wood was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a well renowned authority on the subject of workers' wages and conditions and so naturally a large amount of the collection is given over to such research.

The collection remains in much condition as when it was donated although some additions were made later, most notably GHW/Q (Administration), which was added by Heritage Quay archivists. Upon receiving the collection the Technical College library staff did alter the structure slightly. Previously Wood had kept the pamphlets and volumes in order of acquisition but it was decided that this needed to be changed in order to improve accessibility. The structure was later altered even further when library and archive staff split the collection into sections and subsections based on the themes covered in the documents. The sections are:

A-Economics: A/A General Economics (c.1820-1911); A/B Banking and Currency (c.1820-1920); A/C Public Finance (c.1822-1914); A/D International Trade (c.1821-1920); A/E Free Trade and Protectionism (c.1800-1910).

B-Industry: B/A General Industry (c.1832-1920); B/B Manufacturing Industries (c.1844-1914); B/C Industrial Health and Safety and Welfare (c.1868-1925); B/D Industrial Relations (c.1897-1920).

C-Labour Problems: C/A Labour (c.1816-1918); C/B Wages and Hours (c.1860-1920); C/C Unemployment (c.1893-1920); C/D Trade Unions (c.1869-1918); C/E Co-Operation (c.1872-1924).

D-Social Reform Problems: D/A General (c.1866-1909)l; D/B Philanthropy (c.1900-1901); D/C Poverty and Poor Laws (c.1818-1912); D/D Housing (c.1884-1902); D/E Health and Sanitation (c.1895-1915); D/F The

Elderly (c.1906-1925); D/G Drink, Intemperance and Gambling (c.1882-1907); D/H Crime (c.1888-1920); D/I Population (c.1821-1910).

E-Women, Children and Education: E/A Women (c.1886-1916); E/B Children (c.1903-1918); E/C Education (c.1837-2005).

F-Politics: F/A General (c.1831-1919); F/B Liberalism (c.1883-1910); F/C Socialism (c.1821-1920); F/E Fabianism (c.1891-1925); F/F Anarchism (c.1895-1906).

G-Labour Government: G/A Local Government and Municipal Control (c.1851-1911).

H-Thought and Belief: H/A Sociology (c.1860-1911); H/B Philosophy and Ethics (c.188-1901); H/C Religion (c.1870-1914).

I-Statistics (c. 183-1919)

J-Agriculture and Land (c.1843-1914)

K-Transport: K/A Railways (c.1873-1899)

L-International: L/A Ireland (c.1833-1913); L/B America (c.1838-1911); L/C France (c.1850-1904); L/D Germany (c.1896-1919); L/E Other Countries (c.1839-1922).

M-War: M/A Boer War (c.1899-1903); M/B First World War (c.1914-1918); M/C Reconstruction (c.1918-1920).

N-Economic, Social and Legal: N/A Economic and Social History (c.1834-1905); N/B Legal and Legislation (1773-1906); N/C Biography and Autobiography (c.1835-1913).

O-Miscellaneous (c.1865-1965)

P-Bibliographies (c.1855-1915)


Administrative / Biographical History

George Henry Wood was born in Bristol in 1874 and died in 1945. During his lifetime he was an active member of a number of groups and societies and involved with the collation of statistics relating to the working poor almost constantly. These activities and personal interests are reflected in the collection. He described himself as "one who has great sympathy with the aims of the Socialists, even though I do not ....accept their teachings to the full", (Llanelly Mercury, 20th Aug 1896).

In 1894 Wood became an early member, if not the founder, of the Bristol Bimetallic League and in 1896, upon moving to Newport, he became the secretary of the Newport Branch. While there he also lectured on currency issues. Upon his return to Bristol in the late 1890s Wood recommenced his work with the Bristol Bimetallic League and continued his lecture series which he began to focus more towards the field of wage statistics. He also became the Honorary Secretary and a founder member of the Bristol Economic Society in 1898 and later a member of both the Bristol Socialist Society and the Bristol Liberal Unionist Association.

Throughout his life Wood showed an active and often professional interest in the collation of statistics, particularly those relating to economics and wages of the poor. In 1897, aged just 23, Wood became the youngest ever Fellow to be elected to the Royal Statistical Society. By 1907 his personal research and work with statistics had developed to the point of allowing him to refer to himself as a professional statistician and by 1910 he was employed as an occasional lecturer in Statistics at Huddersfield Technology College. In 1910 Wood was presented with the Guy Medal in Silver for his work 'The Statistics of Wages in the UK during the Nineteenth Century, part 15: The Cotton Industry'. By 1926 Wood had been elected as a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society.

In 1896 Wood became a regular contributor to the Llanelly Mercury. He wrote for this paper for 16 months under his own name as well as a variety of pseudonyms including 'Semper Eadem' and 'Fabius'. From 1899 onwards, when Wood's attention had turned toward the field of wage statistics, he worked with A L Bowley to publish a series of annual articles for the Journal of the Royal Statistical College. Wood also had works published in the Economic Journal, the Co-Operative Wholesale Societies Annual, Westminster Review and the Socialist Review, (this last was published under the pseudonym of Harry Willmott).

Wood was an active member of the Fabian society, joining in 1896 and remaining a member for 25 years. By 1910 he was president of the Huddersfield Fabian Society, Chair at the Northern Fabian Conference and the Huddersfield representative at the Annual Fabian Conference. He also frequently contributed to the Fabian News and the work of the Fabian Research Department.

Sometime after 1901 Wood was employed as Secretary to Miss B L Hutchins who was, at that time, working on a study of the wages and conditions of working women and writing 'A History of Factory Legislation'. Wood assisted in the research for both of these works and his statistics on the subject were undoubtedly utilised. In 1903, while living near London, Wood became an employee of the Board of Trade, working as Statistical Investigator for the Labour Department. By 1906 though he had moved to Lancashire and started work inquiring into the wages in the cotton industry. He moved again in that same year to Huddersfield where he continued to research wages, this time in the woollen industry. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Wood took a War Office position as Chief Statistical Officer to the Department of Wool Textile Production.

While living in Huddersfield Wood joined, and became Secretary for, the Huddersfield and District Woollen Manufacturers and Spinners Association in 1907. During his time with this society he was heavily involved in the reduction working hours and rise in wages and the abolition of the half-time labour system Huddersfield Manufacturers. He later became a member of the National Committee to Promote the Break-Up of the Poor Law. In 1912, elected to the committee of the Huddersfield and District Men's Co-Operative Guild and became President and Trustee of the Huddersfield and District Co-Operative Friendly Society for which both Wood and his wife, Emma, were given honorary life time memberships. By roughly 1915 he and Emma had become highly active members of the Workers' Educational Association and were elected as joint Vice Presidents around 1915.

Wood and his family moved away from Huddersfield in 1916, settling eventually in Bingley. Later in that same year he helped to found the Woollen and Worsted Trades Federation for which he immediately became the Secretary.

Access Information

Original available for consultation by appointment

Custodial History

Wood first moved the section of his personal library that constitutes the current collection in 1920 to the Leeds District Office of the Workers Education Association. While there the Association felt it was underused and when they moved offices in 1925 they asked Wood to find alternative accommodation for his collection. There is no surviving documentation to show exactly when the collection was loaned to the Huddersfield Technical College but it seems to have been either late 1925 or early 1926. The remaining evidence suggests Wood approached the Principal, Mr J F Hudson, to arrange the terms of the loan. One element of the agreement reached was that the collection be shelved separately from the rest of the library and arranged according to Wood's original order. This was essentially the order in which he acquired the works and so the librarians altered the structure a little, while sticking as closely as possible to that dictated by Wood. Another part of the loan agreement was that no one could remove or borrow any document for the collection and that it must be available for Wood, his family and the Board of Trade who still consulted the library. The books and pamphlets remained underused and neglected due to the strictures imposed by Wood.

Upon Wood's death in 1945 the Executors of his will offered the collection to the Technical College for purchase. This offer was rejected but by 1948 Wood's family had decided to donate the collection to the Technical College and it was officially accessioned to the library in 1950. Some books were absorbed into the library but the majority remained, as requested by Wood, in a separate location. This resulted in their continued neglect. It is probable that a lot of the correspondence, wage notes and manuscripts were destroyed during the early period of the loan to the Technical College and in 1948, after it was donated to the library, the Board of Studies approved the removal of around 100 books which were given to Leeds University and now reside in the Brotherton Library. Further works by Wood remain in the library at the Royal Statistical Society. Since 1950 the collection has been rehoused several times which has resulted in some further loss and donations to other institutions. In 1980, four temporary members of staff were employed to review over 5500 items and create an index, catalogue and biography of Wood. This was reportedly the first catalogue made available in order for the Wood collection to be made available (Facet, May 1980). Most recently the collection was transferred from the University library to Heritage Quay