Records of Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree


A substantial proportion of Seebohm Rowntree’s papers, forming the nucleus of the historical archive at Beverley House, came to the Trust in the early 1970s. Between 1951 and his death in 1954 BSR and his secretary G. R. Lavers had begun to sort his accumulated papers in preparation for a biography. Later in the fifties, when working on the eventual biographical study, ‘Social Thought and Social Action’ [1961], Asa Briggs used these papers, then stored at the Homestead in the care of Peter Rowntree. Correspondence of 1970-1971 shows that a decision was taken to split the collection. Business and company papers were returned to the factory. A proportion was sent to the University of York and is now at the Borthwick Institute. The remainder was deposited at Beverley House.
The University’s share includes the bulk of the printed material and relates mainly to BSR’s official and committee work, and research working papers, especially for ‘Poverty and Progress’ and ‘English Life and Leisure’. These have been listed in 'Summary list of the papers of B S Rowntree by Ann Beaumont and Bill Sheils 1974-75
To some extent the Trust’s share of the papers covers similar ground, but includes a significant quantity of personal correspondence. The regular exchanges of letters over time with friends and colleagues at home, in Europe and the USA, eg. F. D. Stuart, Waldorf Astor, Christian Gierloff, Harry Dennison, James Causey and Leland Rex Robinson, are important for the insight they give into BSR’s preoccupations at different stages of his life.
Both the collections at the University and at the Trust have been catalogued in similar style, so that the two lists can be used in conjunction, enabling researchers to assess the scope of the material available.
Elizabeth Jackson, JRF Librarian, 1989.

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