Howard League for Penal Reform

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

MSS.16A comprises manuscript notebooks belonging to successive secretaries of the Association, (William Tallack and Edward Grubb) recording visits to prisons in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and overseas, 1895-1906; articles and published letters on penal reform by Thomas Barwick Lloyd-Baker, 1858-1881 and other miscellaneous items.

MSS.16B includes League minute books, 1927-1955; the League's inter-war international papers; Penal Reformer , quarterly periodical of the Howard League and National Council for the Abolition of Death Penalty 1934-1939; other publications of the National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

MSS.16C contains miscellaneous documents on juvenile delinquency, 1833-1966; the papers of the League's predecessor, Penal Reform League, annual reports, 1911, 1913 and leaflets; Papers from the Hardwicke Reformatory, 1854-86.

MSS.16D comprises legal correspondence which supplements MSS.16A-B

MSS.16E and MSS.16F have not been fully listed. They comprise of reports and year books published by the Central Howard Association Inc., 1901-1921 (incomplete) and the papers of Martin Wright, 1970s, topics include Floud Committee, control units, Centre for Crime Problems, children and young persons and Howard League press-statements, 1972-7.

Administrative / Biographical History

The League was formed by the Howard Association in 1866. It adopted its current title in 1921 following amalgamation with the Penal Reform League. The League exists to work for an improvement in prison conditions, mainly as a specialised library and information service for other parties interested in penal reform. The National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty was established in 1925; in 1948 it merged with the Howard League for Penal Reform. The Council's papers were deposited along with those of the League. The League papers include those of Thomas Barwick Lloyd-Baker (1807-1886). Baker was a writer on penal conditions, and founded the Hardwicke Reformatory school in 1852.

Reference: Chris Cook and David Waller, The Longman Guide to Sources in Contemporary British History 1 : Organisations and Societies (Longman, 1994). Dictionary of National Biography (CD-ROM)(Oxford).  Christoph, James Bernard, Capital Punishment and British Politics: the British movement to abolish the death penalty 1945-57 (London, 1962).


The original papers of the Howard League (MSS.16) were purchased by the Centre in 1966. Since then there have been further accruals. MSS.16B was deposited by the League in 1974. MSS 16C was purchased by the Centre in 1976. MSS.16D and MSS.16E were deposited in 1977. MSS.16F were deposited in 1982. The system of arrangement reflects the successive deposits.

The Modern Records Centre uses a classification scheme. For further details of the scheme, see It is compatible with ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description (2000).

Conditions Governing Access

There are restrictions on access to these papers. Financial records are closed for 30 years. In MSS16F no names of prisoners' families are to be published, and a statement of this effect is to be signed. All other material is open.

Acquisition Information

All papers (both purchased and deposited) were received from The Howard League .

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this collection-level is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom. The papers have been catalogued to file level. A copy is held in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives in London and in Chadwyck-Healey's National Inventory of Documentary Sources.

An authority record exists for the Howard League (GB 152AAR0714), the The Penal Reform League (GB152 AAR0716), the National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty (GB 152 AAR 0715), Thomas Barwick Lloyd-Baker (GB 152AAR0714).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, aside from those outlined above and apart from the requirements of copyright law.


Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

Bound volumes of printed reports and pamphlets from the Howard Association, 1867-1912, are held in the Warwick University Library's Special Collections [Special Collections 5C A12] and listed separately.

Further papers relating to the Floud Committee have been deposited in Northamptonshire Record Office. Researchers may also be interested in the papers of Radical Alternatives to Prison (MSS.110) which are also held at the Centre.