Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky

Scope and Content

1.) Northern Rhodesia and Pre-Federation material (1941-1956):

  • Papers relating to Welensky's position as Director of Manpower, Northern Rhodesia (mainly correspondence), 1941-1943
  • the Northern Rhodesia Executive Council, the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council and committees, 1947-1953
  • the Unofficial Members' Association and the Liaison Office (mainly correspondence), 1945-1953
  • Boards and Committees - public bodies to which Welensky was nominated by the Northern Rhodesia Government or whose papers were circulated to him as Chairman of the Unofficial Members' Association. Comprises material relating to: Rhodesia Railways Ltd; the Central and Southern Africa Transport Conference (Johannesburg); Chilanga Cement Ltd., and the Central Africa Rhodes Centenary Exhibition Ltd. (agenda, minutes, supporting papers, information papers, etc.), 1945-1956
  • Liaison Office files, generally arranged by the department (or official) of the Northern Rhodesia Government to which the matters in a given file related. Comprises material on: economic affairs and development, finance, agriculture, education and welfare, health and local government (and African housing), legal affairs and the Attorney-General, the Secretary for Native Affairs, and the Chief Secretary, 1946-1955
  • Correspondence with the Commissioner for Northern Rhodesia in London, 1951-1953
  • Miscellaneous Liaison and other Northern Rhodesia files, 1949-1954
  • Broken Hill files (mainly correspondence), 1948-1953
  • Conferences on closer association and federation, 1948-1953
  • Correspondence relating to closer association and federation, 1950-1953
  • Papers relating to the Federation campaign and campaigning organisations, 1951-1953
  • Miscellaneous papers about closer association and federation, 1941-1952
  • the Central African Council (minutes, memoranda, correspondence, etc.), 1944-1953
  • Federation Papers of Sir Godfrey Huggins, Welensky's predecessor (correspondence with Welensky and others, and notes for speeches), 1953-1954

2.) Federal Cabinet, Federal Government, Federal Public Service and Federal Assembly, the Governor-General and the Executive Council (1946-1964):

  • Cabinet minutes, 1953-1963
  • Memoranda presented to the Cabinet, 1953-1963
  • Cabinet information papers, 1953-1963
  • Minutes and memoranda, etc. of Cabinet Committees / Working Parties, including the Cabinet Committee on Future Planning, 1954-1963
  • Minutes, agendas, etc. of inter-governmental meetings, 1953-1963
  • Contemporary card indexes to cabinet and committee minutes and memoranda, 1953-1963
  • Proceedings, etc. of Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meetings, 1951-1962
  • Papers relating to the establishment and organisation of the Federal Government, Federal Cabinet and Federal Public Service (including correspondence, minutes, memoranda and reports), 1946-1963
  • Correspondence, etc. relating to civil service and public appointments, 1953-1963
  • Minutes, etc. of miscellaneous meetings with other governments, 1954-1959
  • Departmental circulars, 1953-1956
  • Papers concerning the Governor-General, Territorial Governors, and Honours (including minutes of the Federal Executive Council and correspondence), 1953-1964
  • Papers relating to the Federal Assembly and other Parliamentary matters (minutes, reports, memoranda, correspondence, Parliamentary questions and answers, etc.), including material relating to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, 1950-1963

3.) Federal Era Ministerial Files (1946-1963):

  • Federal constitutional affairs and negotiations, including the "Monckton" Commission, 1953-1963
  • Territorial constitutional affairs and negotiations, covering Northern Rhodesia (including Barotseland), Nyasaland, and Southern Rhodesia, 1949-1963
  • Miscellaneous papers relating to constitutional matters, citizenship and franchise (correspondence, memoranda, etc.), [1950s]-1963
  • Constitutional affairs in other territories: Bechuanaland Protectorate, Kenya, Swaziland (mainly correspondence), 1949-1962
  • External Affairs, including correspondence with the High Commissioner in London and reports of the Ministry of External Affairs, 1955-1963
  • Defence and Security including papers relating to the Royal Rhodesian Air Force, the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army, and the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau (correspondence, reports, memoranda, briefings, etc.), 1953-1963
  • the Nyasaland Emergency (1959) and other emergencies and internal security matters (correspondence, reports, press cuttings, etc.), 1953-1963
  • Internal Affairs, including deportation, immigration, race relations, partnership and discrimination, African advancement, labour, trade unions and industrial relations (mainly correspondence), 1949-1963
  • Correspondence, reports, etc. relating to the (Belgian) Congo and the State of Katanga, 1960-1963
  • the Ndola air crash (1961), [1961-1962] - the majority of this material is closed
  • Information and Federal public relations, the Press and Broadcasting (correspondence, reports, memoranda, Federal Government publications, publicity material, etc.), 1953-1963
  • the Press and Broadcasting, and related litigation against newspapers/journals (mainly correspondence), 1951-1963
  • Welensky's contributions to the press (his articles, statements, interviews, press conferences, radio and television broadcasts), 1951-1963
  • Newsletters, press cuttings and Hansard extracts, 1951-1963
  • Federal Ministry of Transport - material relating to the organisation and function of the Ministry, aviation and railways (correspondence, memoranda, reports, accounts, etc.), 1950-1963
  • Federal Ministry of Posts, mainly concerning broadcasting, (correspondence, reports etc.), 1950-1962
  • Papers relating to Power Generation (Kariba Dam), 1946-1962
  • Papers relating to Copper, 1949-1962
  • Papers relating to economics, trade and industry, finance and development, 1953-1963
  • Other Federal files (relating to land, land use, housing, agriculture, education, health and social welfare, plans, sketches and photographs), 1954-1963

4.) Public Engagements, Visits and Speeches (1947-1963):

  • Engagements and official entertaining (diaries, invitations, guest lists, etc.), 1953-1963
  • Official and private visitors (correspondence, programmes, itineraries, etc.), 1947-1963
  • Visits by Welensky, mainly abroad (correspondence, photographs, itineraries, briefing material, etc.), 1948-1963
  • Tours/engagements by Welensky within the Federation (mainly correspondence), 1951-1963
  • Invitations, 1951-1963
  • Souvenirs (programmes etc.) and photographs, 1953-1963
  • Speeches, 1953-1963
  • Material for speeches (notes, drafts, miscellaneous material, etc.), 1953-1963

5.) Elections, Political Parties and Organisations (ca.1940-1963):

  • Elections (Federal and territorial) and referenda. The papers cover: Federal Assembly elections; Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council elections; Nyasaland Legislative Council/Legislative Assembly elections; Southern Rhodesia Legislative Assembly elections and the 1961 Southern Rhodesia referendum (correspondence, reports, manifestos, press cuttings, etc.), 1953-1963
  • the (United) Federal Party and its successors (correspondence, agendas, minutes, resolutions, memoranda, manifestos, constitutions, printed material, policy statements, etc.), 1953-1963
  • Other Political Parties, mainly dating from the era of Federation but also including files of the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party founded by Welensky in 1941 (correspondence, manifestos, press cuttings, printed material, etc.), [1940s-1963]
  • Other Political Organisations and Movements (correspondence, manifestos, press cuttings, printed material, etc.), 1953-1963
  • Political parties and organisations elsewhere in the Commonwealth, 1953-1963
  • Archives of the United Federal Party (Central Office), including material on other political parties, political movements and overseas political parties (correspondence, memoranda, speeches, printed material, etc.), [ca.1950-1964]

6.) Private Secretary's Correspondence, Private Office Organisation, General and Personal Correspondence, and Miscellanea (1936-1963):

  • Private Office organisation (memoranda, correspondence, briefing material, statistics, etc.), 1953-1963
  • (Principal) Private Secretary's correspondence, 1953-1963
  • General correspondence (personal and semi-official), 1951-1953
  • Letters of support and opposition, appreciation and thanks, 1951-1964
  • Letters of recommendation and introduction, testimonials and references. Also, correspondence concerning employment opportunities, appeals for advice on immigration, income tax, pensions, etc., 1951-1963
  • Papers relating to charities, patronage and memberships (mainly correspondence), 1951-1963
  • Correspondence relating to illness, celebrations, honours etc., 1956-1963
  • 'Personal' correspondence (i.e. correspondence with named persons), [1950-1969]
  • Personal information and intelligence files, [1949-1963]
  • Welensky's personal and domestic correspondence, 1941-1963
  • Rhodesia Railway Workers' Union files (correspondence, rules, agenda, etc.), 1941-1956
  • Files of Sir Godfrey Huggins as Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (correspondence, etc.), 1936-1956
  • Miscellaneous papers, [1936-1961]

7.) Post-Federal material (1940-1990):

  • Engagements, visits, speeches and writings (diaries, correspondence, itineraries, drafts, notes, etc.), 1963-1980
  • Correspondence, circulars, etc. relating to Politics (including the Arundel by-election (1964), political affairs and elections, political parties and movements, constitutional and public affairs), 1964-1980
  • Correspondence, 1964-1990
  • Personal, financial and business matters (includes material relating to Welensky's activities outside politics as farmer and businessman), 1963-1990
  • Miscellaneous papers (mainly printed material, press cuttings and scrapbooks), 1940-1979

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Roy (Raphael) Welensky, CMG (1946), Kt (1953), KCMG (1959), PC (1960), was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia on the 20 January 1907. When he was 17 he started work as a fireman on the Rhodesia Railways, playing a prominent part in the railway strike of 1929. Following the strike he became a leader in the Railway Workers' Union and, in 1933, was made Chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the Union and was also appointed a member of the National Council.

In 1938 Welensky became a member of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council and he held the Broken Hill seat on the Council unopposed until he was elected to the first Federal Assembly in 1953. During his political career in Northern Rhodesia he was a member of the Executive Council (from 1940) and was appointed Chairman of the Unofficial Members Association in 1946. During World War Two he served as Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia (receiving the CMG for his services), and in 1941 founded the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party.

An advocate of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Welensky attended all the conferences leading to its establishment, and was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, and Minister of Posts in the first full Federal Government. In June 1954 he was made Leader of the House and then, on the 1 November 1956, became Federal Prime Minister. After the dissolution of the Federation in 1963, Welensky retired to the farm he had bought with the leaving present subscribed to by a large number of his supporters in Africa and Great Britain; he also set up a consultancy on business and labour affairs. After an unsuccessful return to politics in the Arundel by-election in Southern Rhodesia (1964), Welensky quit active politics forever, although he continued to correspond with politicians and statesmen worldwide and also published Welensky's 4000 Days. The life and death of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (London: Collins, 1964).

Welensky died on the 5 December 1991.


The handlist contains detailed information about the arrangement and original filing system of the papers.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.

Some of the papers in this collection are closed. For more information please contact the library.


Collection level description created by Marion Lowman, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Administrative/Biographical History compiled with reference to The Rhodesian: the life of Sir Roy Welensky, by Don Taylor (1955) and The Welensky Story, by Garry Allighan (1962).

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room and a handlist entitled Papers of The Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky KCMG 1907-1991 in Rhodes House Library Oxford. A Catalogue, compiled by J.F. Hargrave (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1995) is also available for this collection.

Listed as no. 844 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994(Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Corporate Names