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Baldwin papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Baldwin

Scope and Contents

The collection now at Cambridge has certain limitations. In the first place, it comprises only Baldwin's political papers: family and personal papers are not included. Secondly, it is perhaps more revealing of Baldwin's colleagues than of the man himself. As G.M. Young observed in the preface to his biography, Baldwin "kept no diary, circulated no memoranda to his colleagues, rarely wrote a political letter, and still more rarely made a copy of anything he did write". Thirdly, there is almost nothing prior to October 1922 in the collection, and thereafter the surviving papers are by no means evenly distributed. The great bulk of papers about affairs of state belongs to the periods of Baldwin's first and second administrations, May 1923 - January 1924 and November 1924 - May 1929. For the period of opposition in 1924 there is very little of anything. There is a considerable quantity of material for the periods as Lord President of the Council in the National Governments of 1931 to 1935. For Baldwin's third administration, 1935-7, there are no official or departmental papers at all. To what extent has the collection been depleted since 1937? At least 70 files are seemingly absent from numbered series (e.g. Agriculture files 2 and 4-7) but in nearly every case these were already absent in 1943, when Sir Geoffrey Fry made an inventory of the papers; many may have been amalgamated with other files, and some numbers were perhaps never used. Some other material in Fry's list is not at Cambridge because, not being political, it did not fall within the terms of Baldwin's bequest to the University. Sorting at Cambridge brought to light a few official items - a strayed Treasury file, some Foreign Office papers, a batch of press cuttings from the Conservative Central Office - which were restored in 1955 to their proper homes; other material of like character, appearing in Fry's list but not now identifiable, may have been similarly surrendered at an earlier date. Some papers relating to the terms of office of Bonar Law and Ramsay MacDonald, also found in sorting, were transmitted to their executors. Some correspondence of G.M. Young concerning his work on Baldwin's papers in 1946-8 was found in the collection, and some letters and papers which had strayed from the latter turned up in Young's own papers. These were respectively returned where they belonged; but two further Baldwin strays were found in Young's draft of his biography, the manuscript of which was given to the University Library in 1969 (Add. MS. 7799), and this casualness by his biographer suggests the possibility of other losses from the collection while in Young's hands. As against this, Young himself says he learnt that "a large collection of papers" was destroyed shortly after Baldwin's death; but we do not know what these were. With these exceptions, the compiler of this handlist has found nothing to suggest that the collection as now constituted does not represent Baldwin's political papers much as they were at his retirement, with a few additions for the last decade of his life. Mr Caroe did, indeed, postulate when reporting on the papers that in the 1940s there had been "a good deal more material about the Abdication crisis than has come down to us", but this view seems to derive from a misunderstanding of an entry in Fry's list. What survives on that subjects is certainly exiguous, but no more so than with many other subjects where Baldwin showed himself averse to leaving a written record.


  • 1905-1955


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


233 volume(s) (233 volumes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

By his will, dated 1 January 1946, Stanley Baldwin, first Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, bequeathed to the University of Cambridge "all my political papers memoranda and correspondence". That he had already given thought, soon after his retirement, to the problem of their disposition is clear from a letter (volume 173 f.143) addressed to him on 27 October 1937 by G.M. Trevelyan, then Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, evidently in reply to a request for advice. Baldwin died on 14 December 1947, but the papers did not come immediately to Cambridge. They remained for a time with G.M. Young who was engaged on his biography (Stanley Baldwin, 1952); and it was not until August 1952 that they reached their final destination in the University Library, where they were put into order by a senior member of the staff (since deceased), F.T.K. Caröe. Although a few scholars were thereafter allowed access for particular purposes, it was not until 1969 that the papers were made generally available for research; and only with the completion of binding of the collection in 1971 has it become possible to issue the present handlist.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom

The UK Archival Thesaurus has been integrated with our catalogue, thanks to Kings College London and the AIM25 project for their support with this.