Letters Additional of Neville Chamberlain

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Artificial collection of letters and other papers of and relating to Sir (Arthur) Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), statesman.

Administrative / Biographical History

(Arthur) Neville Chamberlain was Joseph Chamberlain's younger son and half-brother of Sir Austen Chamberlain. He was educated at Rugby and Mason College, Birmingham. He was originally destined for a commercial career and, at the age of 21, was sent to direct his father's sisal -growing venture on the family estate on the island of Andros in the Bahamas. The venture failed and he returned seven years later in 1897.

He then became involved in Birmingham's industrial and commercial life and it was in 1911, the year he married, that he became active in local politics. He was elected to City Council in that year and, like his father, became Lord Mayor in 1915. During his time in local politics, he was responsible, for example, for the establishment of the Birmingham Savings Bank, the only municipal savings bank, in 1916. He was appointed director-general of national service by Lloyd George between 1916 and 1917 and in 1918 he entered national politics as firstly as Conservative MP for Ladywood and subsequently for the Edgbaston constituency. He served continuously as a Birmingham MP until his death in 1940. He held various offices during his political career, including Postmaster-General (1922); Chancellor of the Exchequer (1923-24); Minister of Health (1923, 1924-29); and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the National Government (1931-37). During his political career he initiated, supervised and was involved with a range of successful projects, including housing and slum clearance; the Local Government Act of 1920 which reformed the poor law; the reorganisation of Conservative Central Office; the adoption of general tariff, 1932; and, in 1934, took the chief political initiative in increasing air estimates.

He succeeded Baldwin as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party in May 1937. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to avert a war and his policy of appeasement toward the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and German Nazi Adolf Hitler. The dramatic events of 1938-39, including the German invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia and the negotiation of the Munich Agreement with Hitler, which culminated in the Second World War, are well known. Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 following the invasion of Poland and he resigned, as Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 after the defeat of the British forces in Norway. He became Lord President of the Council in Winston Churchill's subsequent government but resigned, owing to illness, on 1 October and died shortly afterwards on 9 November 1940.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department, Online Archive Catalogue (http://calmview.bham.ac.uk/). Accessed May 2002.

Arrangement

This collection is catalogued at item or file level and the individual documents are numbered in a single numerical sequence which reflects the order in which they were acquired. The items in this collection are mounted in fascicules and stored in custom made boxes.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

The collection has accumulated from various sources.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available in electronic format on the University of Birmingham Special Collections Online Archive Catalogue: http://calmview.bham.ac.uk/. The Online Archive Catalogue includes catalogue records of items in this collection from NCLAdd/122 onwards. A typescript handlist of NCLAdd/1-121 is available for consultation in the reading room, together with a paper copy of the electronic catalogue records. A personal names index to manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department contains entries for correspondents in this collection up to NCLAdd/121.

Alternative Form Available

The majority of this collection is available on microfilm [NCLAdd/1-116]. Facilities are available in the University of Birmingham Library for researchers to make paper copies of individual items from these microfilms for their own private research purposes. The microfilm copy has been micropublished by Primary Source Media as part of its major micropublication of the Chamberlain Papers.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

The Special Collections Department holds several related collections: Neville Chamberlain Collection [GB 150 NC]; Austen Chamberlain Collection [GB 150 AC]; Joseph Chamberlain Collection [GB 150 JC]; Beatrice, Ida and Hilda Chamberlain Collection [GB 150 BC]; Chamberlain Miscellanea [GB 0150 C]; Artificial collections of letters and other documents of Joseph and Austen Chamberlain [GB 150 JCLAdd, GB 150 ACLAdd].