Papers of Arthur Creech Jones

Scope and Content

  • Biographical material, 1904-1964, including correspondence, 1904-1920, photographs, 1911-1963, election pamphlets, 1929-1959, notes on Parliamentary work while Secretary of State, 1946-1950, papers relating to the Workers' Travel Association, 1929-1958, and miscellaneous papers concerning the Commonwealth, 1958-1964
  • Correspondence concerning Winifred Holtby and R.H. Tawney, 1929-1964
  • Personal correspondence, 1913-1965
  • Articles, reviews, speeches, etc., [1912-1964]
  • Papers concerning visits to various colonies, 1942-1962
  • Papers relating to labour and the Trades Union Congress, 1937-1956
  • Papers relating to international action and the colonies, 1938-1958
  • Papers on colonial policy, 1934-1962
  • Papers relating to the New Fabian Research Bureau and the Labour Party Advisory Committee, 1934-1939
  • Papers relating to particular territories, 1922-1965
  • Minutes, articles, etc. relating to the Africa Conference, 1948
  • Papers relating to colonial education, 1935-1963
  • Papers relating to colonial development and welfare, 1936-1964
  • Printed material, with related correspondence, 1928-1963
  • Maps
  • Official papers, 1940-1958

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Creech Jones (1891-1964) was educated at Whitehall Boy's School, Bristol, leaving in 1904 and moving to London in 1907, gaining a clerical position at the War Office. He settled in Camberwell and in 1910 became Secretary of the Dulwich Branch of the League of Progressive Thought and Service. From 1913 to 1924 he was secretary of the Borough of Camberwell Trade and Labour Council. During World War One, his refusal to serve in the Army led to his imprisonment, 1916-1919. After his release, he was appointed National Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, where he remained until 1929. In the same year he became Organizing Secretary of the Workers' Travel Association and in 1935 was elected Labour MP for Shipley, Yorkshire. Although he lost the seat in 1950, he held Wakefield, Yorkshire from 1954 to 1964.

The year after his election to Parliament, he was appointed to the Colonial Office Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies. He served on the Committee until 1945, acting as Vice-Chairman of the Elliott Commission on Higher Education for West Africa, 1943-1944. This interest in education led to his connection with the Workers' Educational Association, with Ruskin College, Queen Elizabeth House and the Delegacy for Extra-mural Studies, Oxford, and with the Institute of Adult Education. In 1940, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Fabian Society, he became the first Chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau, whose brief was to encourage research into colonial problems. He also served on the Labour Party Imperial Advisory Committee, and was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service, 1940-1945. In 1946 he was sworn of the Privy Council.

He became Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1945 and Secretary, 1946-1959. During this period he was faced with the need for organization of the Colonial Office and Colonial Service in order to meet the changed and increasing needs of the colonial peoples. The whole process of training graduates for service in the colonies had to be reshaped following the recommendations of the Veale Committee and Devonshire Report of 1946, leading to the re-establishment in 1947 of courses for officers of the Colonial Administrative Service at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London. At the same time he made a number of visits to the colonies and represented Britain at the United Nations during the debates on the Palestine Mandate in 1946 and 1947-1948. He founded the Colonial Development Corporation and fostered colonial research projects. He presided over the first African Conference in London, 1948, and initiated an inquiry into education in the colonies, seeing the latter as a necessary preliminary to colonial self-government.

He acted as Chairman of the British Council of Pacific Relations, 1952-1954 and travelled as a delegate, between 1950 and 1954, to India, the United States, Canada, etc.. He was at various times Vice-President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Vice-President of the Anti-Slavery Society, executive member of the Africa Bureau,and Treasurer and Councillor of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. During his second period in Parliament, 1954-1964, his interests included international responsibility for developing countries and the promotion of international understanding in colonial affairs, the constitutional development of emergent nations (especially in Africa) and the problem of Palestine. These interests led to his position as a Councillor of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


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

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 8 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Supplement compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1971). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

Papers of Arthur Creech Jones, comprising letters and circulars relating to British naturalization, 1946, 1949, a final communiqu on Commonwealth nomenclature of the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, 1948, and relation of the colonial judges to the executive, 1950 (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 401); papers of Sir Alan Burns, including a letter from A. Creech Jones, 1947 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1822); correspondence of C.C. Kirk with A. Creech Jones and others on agriculture and post war depression in East Africa, 1944-1946 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1184). The library also holds papers of Arthur Creech Jones, comprising correspondence, printed matter and manuscript material concerned with British dependencies in Africa and with societies formed for protecting the welfare of Africans in Great Britain and Africa, 1929-1964; papers of Ronald EdwarWraith, including recollections of Creech Jones.


Imperialism and the British Labour movement, 1914-1964 by Partha Sarathi Gupta (London, Macmillan, 1975)