Papers of Sydney George Checkland, 1916-1986, economic historian

Scope and Content

  • Correspondence concerning the University of Glasgow, 1958-1977;
  • Correspondence regarding his publications, 1961-1977.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sydney George Checkland  was born in Ottowa, Canada, on  9 October 1916  . He was educated at Lisgar Collegiate Institution, Ottowa, and the University of Birmingham, England, where he gained a first class honours BCom in  1941  and an MCom in  1946  . During his time at Birmingham, he was President of the National Union of Students  1941-1942  and of the International Union of Students  1942-1943  . His studies were interrupted by war service and he severely wounded at Normandy, France, whilst serving with the Governor General's Foot Guards. Following the war, he stood as a Parliamentary candidate for the Commonwealth Party in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, England, in the General Election of  1945  . He gained a MA from the University of Cambridge, England, and a PhD from the University of Liverpool, England in 1953.

His first academic appointment in  1946  was assistant lecturer in Economic Science in the University of Liverpool where he progressed quickly to lecturer and then by  1949  was senior lecturer. In  1953  he left Liverpool for Cambridge where he was a University Lecturer in History from  1953-1957  . He also held the post of Lector in History at Trinity College, University of Cambridge,  between 1955 and 1957  . He became the first Professor of Economic History University at the University of Glasgow in  1957  , a post he held until  1982  , subsequently becoming a Senior Research Fellow.

He published constantly throughout his career, his distinction being recognised by his election as Fellow of the British Academy in  1977  , and as Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in  1981  . He was a member of the Economic History Committee of the Social Science Research Council and then a Council member between 1970 and 1972. He was President of the Economic History Society  between 1977 and 1980  .

His impact on Scottish business history and Scottish business archives is unsurpassed. He built on his Liverpool University experience of collecting the archives of merchant firms, and initiated the University of Glasgow's collection of business records. His contribution to the archive world continued as chair of the Scottish Records Advisory Council, the National Register of Archives (Scotland) and vice-president of the Business Archives Council of Scotland. His local interests were also expressed in the service on the East Kilbride Development Corporation, an involvement in urban development which lay behind the publication of his study of Glasgow in the The Upas Tree . After his retirement from University teaching was chair of the Industry and Employment Committee of the Social Science Research Council.

His publications include The Rise of Industrial Society in England, 1815-1885 ( 1964  ) ; The Mines of Tharsis: Roman, French and British Enterprise in Spain ( 1967  ) ; The Gladstones: A Family Biography, 1764-1975 ( 1971  ) ; Scottish Banking: A History, 1695-1973 ( 1975  ) ; The Upas Tree: Glasgow 1875-1975: a study in growth and contraction ( 1976  ) ; British Public Policy 1776-1939: An Economic, Social and Political Perspective ( 1983  ) ; Industry and Ethos: Scotland, 1832-1914 ( 1984  ) (with Olive Checkland); , vol 1Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860-1960 ( 1986  , Aberdeen ) and Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860-1960 ( 1990  , Aberdeen ) (co-editor Anthony Slaven) .

Sydney George Checkland  died in  1986  .

Sources: Who's Who ( 1979  ) and  vol.69College Courant ( University of Glasgow  )


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : family member : 1978

Deposit : family member : c1982 : ACCN 0579

Deposit : Department of Economic History, University of Glasgow : c1989 : ACCN 1077

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)) and London (NRA)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures. UGD 197 Records of the East Kilbride Development Corporation: Board papers and reports of the East Kilbride Development Corporation 1964-1666, were deaccessioned to South Lanarkshire Council, March 2016.

Custodial History

Held by the family of Sydney Checkland


None expected

Related Material

GB 054 D.277 Correspondence and papers relating to the Gladstone Family (St Deiniols Library)

GB 141 Notes on Liverpool Banking and Trade 1946-1953 (Liverpool University, Department of Special Collections and Archives)

GB 097 Correspondence with the editors of the Economic Journal 1952-1957 (London University: British Library of Political and Economic Science)


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Fonds level description compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 21 May 2002. Lower level descriptions compiled by Kim Beasley, Catalogue Retro-Conversion Assistant, 26 June 2016.

Geographical Names