Personal Papers of Helen Maud Cam, 1895 - 1995
Scope and Contents
The papers comprise personal and biographical records; correspondence; academic records; and records of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions.
- 1895 - 1995
Biographical / Historical
Helen Maud Cam [HMC] was born on 22 August 1885 in Abingdon, the fourth of nine children of the Reverend William Herbert and Kate Cam. The family moved to Birchanger in Essex in 1893. Educated at home, HMC then studied history at Royal Holloway College in London from 1904-1907. A fellowship in history at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, from 1908-9, was followed by three years teaching at Cheltenham Ladies' College. She returned to Royal Holloway College as a lecturer in 1912 and remained there for 10 years. It was during this period that she began research on local government in the 13thC, publishing Studies in the Hundred Rolls: Some Aspects of Thirteenth-Century Administration in 1921. In 1921, HMC was offered the Pfeiffer Research Fellowship by Girton College, Cambridge, in order to continue her research into the Hundred Rolls. She was recognised from the mid-1920s onwards as a leading authority on medieval local government. She published The Hundred and The Hundred Rolls in 1930. After this there were very few further full-length books but her output of articles and papers was prolific. HMC remained at Girton until 1948, undertaking both teaching and research. She became, in 1937, the first woman to gain the title of the Cambridge LittD. She supported numerous projects, including Romsey Town Labour Club in Cambridge and Hillcroft College for Working Women in Surbiton. A sabbatical year from Cambridge in 1936-37 took her as far afield as India. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1945. HMC was appointed to the Zemurray Radcliffe chair of history at Harvard University in 1948, thus becoming Harvard's first female professor. On her retirement in 1954, she set up home with her sister Norah in Sevenoaks, Kent. Much of her time in 'retirement' was spent on work for the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions, of which she had become President in 1949. Outside academic history, HMC enjoyed literature of a wide variety, including detective fiction. She published a pamphlet entitled 'Historical Novels' in 1961, the result of a lifelong fascination with the genre. The study of law also occupied much of her retirement years, giving her the opportunity to 'justify a long-standing devotion'. In particular, she edited for the Selden Society the records of the London Eyre of 1321. Helen Cam died in Kent in February 1968.
54 archive box(es) (54 boxes) : paper
Language of Materials
The papers are arranged as Cam1: Personal and biographical; Cam 2: Correspondence; Cam 3: Academic; Cam 4: International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions.
Other Finding Aids
A full list of all the papers was compiled in 2002. This has built on and improved the partial lists, chiefly of personal, biographical and academic records, which were compiled in the 1970s. The list is available in both Word and a Microsoft Access database. There is also a composite name index to the collection which is available as a Word document. The user should refer to this to trace all references to a given individual, particularly correspondents.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of HMC's papers were deposited in the archives in Girton College Library after her death. Some were probably bequeathed by HMC herself, others donated by surviving members of the family.
Cam, Helen Maud, 1885-1968, Medieval Historian
Finding aid date
Part of the Girton College Archive Repository
Girton College Archive
Cambridge CB3 0JG United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 338897