Records of the All Souls Group

Scope and Content

Records of the All Souls Group.

Contains the following series:

Meeting papers, 1941-2001;

Convening Committee papers, 1975-1998;

Papers relating to membership, meeting topics, and the history of the Group, c.1942-2002.

Administrative / Biographical History

The All Souls Group was convened in June 1941 by Dr W.G.S. Adams, then Warden of All Souls College, University of Oxford, to discuss various proposals for the reform of post-war education. The first meeting was held at All Souls College, and was attended by, among others, John Newsom, Douglas Cooke, Fred Clarke and Adams. This followed an earlier meeting in Cambridge of a few County Education Officers, including Douglas Cooke and John Newsom, who remained the Convenors of the Group until 1964.

Meetings then took place every three or four months, and the members often invited guests, including figures such as R.A.Butler. Membership grew and included Cooke, Newsom, Clarke, Adams, Robert Birley, Basil Blackwell, Henry Clay, John Maud, Christopher Cox, Kenneth Lindsay, Eric James, John Wolfenden, W. Roy Niblett, Fred Schonell, H.C. Dent and W.O. Lester Smith.

Education continued to be the central concern of the Group, though some discussions were set in the wider context of local government reform, social policies, the arts, science, industry, or the health service. Discussions on major government reports have been introduced by leading members of their committees, often members of the Group. As well as outside speakers, guests of the Group and of individual members were invited to attend meetings and to take a full part in the Group's discussions. At meetings the group took no decisions, passed no resolutions and reached no conclusions. Meetings were a forum for discussion. Meetings were private and not reported outside of the Group.

The Group had a Convening and Membership Committee which organised the meetings and membership, and invited individuals considered to have appropriate qualifications and experience to become members of the Group. It was open to any member to make proposals for membership, or to suggest topics for discussion. The Committee's main concern was to ensure that the membership was sufficiently broad in its interests and contacts to enable informed discussion on a wide range of educational and related issues, and that its size encouraged informal, but searching discussion and debate. Membership of the Convening Committee was also designed to be broadly based, and members were invited to serve as members of the Committee for a set period, taking it in turn to act as Convenor.

The All Souls' Group continues to meet, bringing together people active in education policy-making and practice to discuss curent educational and related issues.


Original order has mostly been maintained. Files are arranged chronologically within each series.

Access Information

Restricted access

Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form, apart from membership records, which are closed for 30 years.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the Archives July 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates, a file of financial records, and a file of catering records have been removed.

Custodial History

Deposited by Marcia Beer, Secretary, in July 2005. Previously held at the home of Harry Judge.



Related Material

The Archives also holds the papers of Fred Clarke (Ref. no. FC and IE/FC) and of The Moot (Ref. no. MOO), which was a private discussion group convened in 1939 by J.H. Oldham (1874-1969) in order to consider post-war social reconstruction within a Christian framework.