Records of the Rothschild banking and finance business. Private records of Rothschild family members and their estates.

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Rothschild Archive London was established in 1978 under the direction of Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990). The first Archivist was appointed in 1978 when the first systematic cataloguing of the records began. In 1999, the entire contents of the Archive were brought together under the administration of a newly established body of Trustees, making the Archive an independent charitable trust.

The business records of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited represent the core of the archive. Since 1978, the archive has expanded substantially to include not only the records of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, but also the records of a number of different branches of the family business in England, France and Austria in papers transferred from Frankfurt, Paris, Vienna and Moscow. The collection also includes personal and estate papers of the Rothschild family reflecting the family history and their many and diverse interests.

Administrative / Biographical History

Business papers

Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) laid the foundations on which his five sons would build a Europe wide banking empire. From humble beginnings he became Court Agent to numerous princes, and holder of the monopoly on the management of the finances of the immensely wealthy Elector of Hesse-Cassel. As a result of these dealings, Mayer Amschel amassed a not inconsiderable fortune and, in 1810, renamed his firm M A Rothschild und Söhne, establishing a partnership with the four sons still in Frankfurt. In 1798 Nathan Mayer Rothschild left Frankfurt to settle in England in 1798, initially as a textile merchant in Manchester. Encouraged by his success, Nathan moved to London to establish himself as a banker, founding N M Rothschild at New Court, St Swithin's Lane in the the City in 1810. By 1811 he had wound up the Manchester wholesale business to concentrate on banking from his base at New Court. . Nathan's increasingly successful business provided a model for his brothers; in 1812, James Mayer Rothschild (1792-1868) established a banking house in Paris. Salomon Mayer Rothschild (1774-1855) settled in Vienna in 1820. Carl Mayer Rothschild (1788-1855) set up business in Naples in 1821, leaving Amschel Mayer (1773-1855), to head the Frankfurt bank, which he took over on his father's death in 1812. From these roots, the Rothschild banking business spread out across much of Europe becoming the most successful international bankers of the age. The core banking business is today in the hands of the seventh generation of Rothschilds.

Private papers

The collection also includes personal and private papers of the Rothschild family in England, France and Austria reflecting their many varied interests and associations. The collection also includes papers from the Rothschild estates.

Arrangement

Business papers of the London house are broadly arranged by departments or divisions of the business following a classification scheme developed in the 1920s. Key series of correspondence are arranged alphabetically by name of 'major' correspondent, usually a Rothschild agent, government or business; other correspondence is arranged alphabetically by year. Business papers of other houses survive in limited quantities.

A large tranche of records of the Paris bank, M M de Rothschild Frères, were originally deposited with the French Archives Nationales in 1972. The Trustees of the Rothschild Archive London are now responsible for this large and significant collection of records of de Rothschild Frères which are now deposited with the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail in Roubaix, France. These are listed following a classification scheme developed by the Archives Nationales.

Private papers are largely grouped into collections, listed by the name of the place from which they were transferred, or the family members or estates to which they relate.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the collections of the Archive is free of charge, with the exception of certain charges for copying of documents and reproduction of images. Access to the collections of the Archive is at the discretion of the Director and Trustees of The Rothschild Archive. Archive material dated after 1945 is not generally available to researchers. Applications to consult some parts of the collection that are available after this date must be made to the Director. Access to records dated later than 1945 is at the discretion of the Trustees of The Rothschild Archive. Special arrangements must be made to consult papers of the French business, held by The Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail, Roubaix, France. Access to private family papers is at the discretion of the Archive, and special permission may additionally be required to access family papers. All researchers are required to register with The Rothschild Research Forum, providing two written references in support of their application. Further information about accessing the collections is to be found on the website of The Rothschild Archive.

Acquisition Information

In 1999, the Board of Directors of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, under the Chairmanship of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, formally gifted the contents of the Archive Department of the London business to a newly established body of Trustees. At the same time, responsibility for the papers of the French business, deposited in France was transferred to the Trustees. Business papers continue to be transferred to the Archive by arrangement with the Rothschild businesses. Records from other sources have been by gift, deposit and occasionally by purchase.

Other Finding Aids

The Online Guide to the collections of The Rothschild Archive describes the collections of The Rothschild Archive. Further detailed lists and finding aids are available to researchers registered with The Rothschild Research Forum in the Reading Room of The Rothschild Archive. Registered members of the Forum also have access to the websites of The Rothschild Research Forum which contains different microsites, dedicated to a particular aspect of Rothschild history and research. The microsites contain guides to sources, transcripts, digital documents and more detailed information.

Conditions Governing Use

At the Archivists' discretion, Researchers visiting the Reading Room in London may request copies of selected documents.These will be charged at the (sterling cash only) fee payable at the time. Copies will usually be made in black and white, and they will be endorsed with The Rothschild Archive stamp. A receipt will be issued upon request. Copying charges may be reduced or waived at the discretion of the Director of The Rothschild Archive. The number of items copied may be limited at the discretion of the Archivist. It may not be possible to copy some oversize items. Copies will NOT be permitted if any item is deemed to be in a fragile condition. Arrangements for copying collections held on deposit with the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail, Roubaix, France are set by the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail, whose current conditions of copying prevail. By order of the Trustees of The Rothschild Archive London, researchers are currently NOT permitted to make their own copies of documents using digital cameras or any other camera-enabled devices.

Accruals

The collection is accruing, with regular deposits of material from both the Rothschild business and family.