The S.E.Finer Papers

Scope and Content

The papers relate primarily to Finer's research for his projected but unpublished book on public transport in Britain.

The content can be summarized as follows:

  • Handwritten notes
  • Interviews
  • Correspondence with prospective interviewees
  • Newspaper cuttings
  • Drafts of chapters
  • Card indexes

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection comprises the working papers of the late Samuel Edward Finer (1915-1993) from his years as Professor of Political Institutions at the University of Keele (Keele, Staffordshire), from 1954-55. In the mid-fifties, Finer was engaged in gathering material for a book on post-war transport policy in Britain, 1945 to c. 1955. In a letter to G. Woodcock, dated 15 August 1955, Finer described his project as 'an independent piece of research', tentatively entitled 'The Politics of Transport, 1945-1955'. Finer defined his intentions as follows: 'The idea is to explore exactly how the 1947 statute [on transport] got onto the statute book and how it was taken off. I am not interested in the economics of it except in so far as they affect the whole process of legislation and politics'. The collection thus reflects work-in-progress, and charts the progress and development of Finer's ideas and research for this subject. The nine box files include: handwritten notes, press cuttings, and card indexes. The collection also includes two files of lecture notes, compiled by J.J. Richardson.

Finer wrote and edited a number of books on a range of subjects including: political parties in Great Britain; constitutions; comparative government; pressure groups; civil supremacy over the military. From an academic standpoint however, Finer is best remembered for his posthumously published three-volume magnum opus, The History of Government from Earliest Times (OUP, 1997).

Finer was born in 1915. After his career at Keele University, Finer was appointed Professor of Government at Manchester University (1966 to 1974). Following this he took up the Gladstone Professorship of Government and Public Administration at Oxford 1974 to 1982, and was nominated Emeritus Professor of Government and Public Administration.

The presence of material in this collection compiled by Professor Jeremy Richardson is explained by the fact that Richardson was both pupil and a colleague of Finer at Keele University.


  • Box 1: Press cuttings and extracts from transport journals; notes on transport pressure groups
  • Box 2: Extracts from transport journals including user and trade union interests
  • Box 3: Extracts from transport journals and newspapers
  • Box 4: Notebooks on transport legislation, 1939-1949
  • Box 5: Notebooks and card indexes
  • Box 6: Card indexes to articles in the Times and the 1946-47 transport bill
  • Box 7: Notes and papers concerning user groups and trade unions (Mansion House Association on Transport); Trader's Coordinating Committee on Transport
  • Box 8: Notes on Transport bills and notes and drafts (chapters of book on Transport Policy)
  • Box 9: User groups and TUC [Trades Union Congress]: notes and correspondence (Road Haulage Association; Public Transport Association)

Access Information

By written application to either the Librarian or Deputy Librarian. A letter of introduction may be required and prospective users will be obliged to sign an undertaking outlining the terms and conditions of access to the research materials.

Acquisition Information

The papers were presented to the Albert Sloman Library by Jeremy Richardson in 1996, following his appointment as Professor of European Public Policy at the University of Essex (1995).


This record was compiled by David Borg-Muscat, UK Data Archive, using entries from:

Albert Sloman Library (2000) A Note on Special Collections, (University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library), p. 5.

Record entered by Nadeem Ahmad of Qualidata, UK Data Archive, University of Essex.

Other Finding Aids

A record for all materials in the Special Collection is available via the Albert Sloman Library, Special Collections web page.

Conditions Governing Use

No part of the Special Collections material may be reproduced, published, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Albert Sloman Library. This may be obtained by application to the Librarian or Deputy Librarian.

Appraisal Information

In consultation with academic colleagues, the library special collections acquisitions staff evaluate collections by assessing their relevance to the teaching and research interests of the University.


No further material will be added.

Additional Information

University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library.