Stamp Papers

Scope and Content

The following are the titles of the series and some of the sub-series, with covering dates and extent:

Addresses: drafts of lectures, broadcasts, etc.; 1946-1965; 3 files

Africa: conference and printed papers; 1949-1953; 3 files

Agricultural Land Service, Ministry of Town and Country Planning; 1948-1955; 22 files

Allied Post-War Requirements Bureau; 1943; 1 file

Articles and reviews of books contributed by Stamp to the BBC and various journals and newspapers, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, about geographical subjects, especially land-use and planning; with some related correspondence; 1933-66; 16 files

Autobiography, unpublished typescript (Ad. 1); 1 item

Books by Stamp or to which he contributed; drafts, proofs and correspondence; 1936-1964; 16 files

British Association, Committee on Inland Water Survey; 1932-1936; 5 files

Burma; 3 files

Canada. Department of Mines and Resources. Geographical Bureau ; 1950-1951; 2 files

College of Estate Management; 1946-1955; 2 files

Conferences; 1946, 1961, 1965; 9 files

Correspondence; 1920-1964; 19 files

Council for the Preservation of Rural England; 1950; 1 file

Early Notes; 1918-1924; 3 vols. and 3 files

International Geographical Union; 1949-1954, 1964; 8 files

Iraq, report to Ministry of Education, 1953; 1 file

Land Transfer Committee; 1943; 1 file

Land Utilisation Survey of Britain; 1930-1955

Organisation; 1930-1938; 18 files

Report; 16 files

Printing; 1940-1955; 1 file

Publicity and distribution; 1941-1953; 84 files

Maps; 31 files

Miscellaneous; 1 file

London Planning Group; 1943; 1 file

Personalia; 1930s, 1940s; 4 files

Press-cuttings; 1941-1951; 7 files

Reports and development plans; 1933-1964; 29 files

Reviews, cuttings from the British press; 1933-1950; 13 files

Romania, visit to, 1933; 1 file

Royal Commission on Common Land, 1955-1958; 22 files

Rural Land Utilisation; 1943-1948; 3 files


Arid Zone Programme; 1952-1960; 7 files

FAO Sub-Commission on Land and Water Use; 1957-1963; 9 files

Humid Tropics Research Programme; 1955; 1 file

World Population Conference, Rome, 1954; 2 files

Department of the Interior: Geological Survey Land Classification; 2 files

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir (Laurence) Dudley Stamp, 1898-1966, was born at Catford, London, the son of a provision merchant. As a boy, Stamp developed a passion for natural history and geology stimulated by holidays in the Kentish countryside. He attended University School, Rochester, and was admitted while still only fifteen years of age to King's College, London. He obtained first class honours in the B.Sc. examination in 1917. Throughout his army service in 1917-19 geology remained a main interest, and service in France and Belgium provided opportunities for geological fieldwork. He returned to King's College, London, as demonstrator in geology. Having gained a D.Sc. in 1921, he accepted a post as an oil geologist in Burma and in 1923 became professor of geology and geography in the new university of Rangoon. Sensing that the progress of geography was handicapped by a lack of good school and university textbooks, Stamp began, while still in Burma, to fill the gap. He wrote quickly and a large number of widely used textbooks followed, among them The World (1929), first written for Indian schools but later adapted for use in Britain and elsewhere.

Returning to London in 1926 to the Sir Ernest Cassel readership in economic geography at the London School of Economics, he became professor in 1945 and moved to the chair of social geography in 1948, retiring in 1958. His early interests in geology and botany undoubtedly guided his approach to geography as the study of relationships between societies and their physical environments and the growth of his special interests in land use and landscape history. Stamp quickly began to apply his belief in the value of geographical methods of survey and analysis to a survey of the land resources of Britain. He conceived and from 1936 to 1944 directed the Land Utilization Survey of Britain, a project which fired the enthusiasm of colleagues and students. The entire country was surveyed on the scale of six inches to a mile, and one-inch scale maps and county reports were published. The project was completed in 1948 with the publication of the summary report The Land of Britain: its use and misuse. For this work he received the Founder's medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1949.

The practical value of Stamp's survey became quickly apparent. As chief adviser on rural land utilization in the Ministry of Agriculture (1942-55) and through his connection with regional surveys, he played an influential part in framing policies for land use and town and country planning for the post-war period. He developed the idea of land classification for planning purposes.

The success of his Land Utilization Survey led Stamp to develop a scheme for a World Land Use Survey, and maps and memoirs of a number of countries were published under his direction. He wrote widely on problems of population growth, food, resources, and the environment, drawing special attention to variations in the geographical distribution of resources and of man's use of them. Effective land-use planning was essential, based on closer understanding of the great diversity of geographical conditions.

Stamp strongly supported the work of many scientific societies and internationally was the best known British geographer of his generation. He was appointed CBE in 1946 and knighted in 1965.

(Based on the article by M. J. Wise in Dictionary of National Biography 1961-1970 (1981).)

Access Information

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of The Keep's Reading Rooms.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by purchase from Geographical Publications Ltd, Ebbingford, Bude, Cornwall, in November 1966. Ad. 1 (autobiography), from Bryan Stamp (son of Dudley Stamp).


Prepared by John Farrant, August 2002.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available on The Keep's website.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, digital copies can be made..

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.