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Sir Herbert Butterfield: Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Butterfield

Scope and Contents

The papers described in this catalogue date chiefly from the end of the Second World War to the 1970s; from the beginning of this period Butterfield was assisted in his University and college duties by a secretary. The collection documents almost all aspects of his academic life and writings, and provides a record of the wider development of historical studies over the course of his career.


  • Creation: 1786-1979 (Much of the material is undated, so approximate dates have been given.)


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 (


1 collection

Language of Materials



Butterfield apparently maintained his papers in rough order during his life. At the commencement of the compilation of this catalogue, the papers were found to be grouped in a succession of folders and box files, most of which had been allotted brief titles by Butterfield. During the process of arrangement and listing, the papers were sorted into files based on Butterfield's own system. The integrity of the contents of each of Butterfield's files has on the whole been respected; only in a few cases have papers been transferred from one file to another in order that related correspondence or other material may be located together. In most cases, the titles of the files in this list are Butterfield's own; only when a title was potentially misleading to researchers, or bore no relation at all to the contents of the file, was it altered. There was no order apparent in the sequence of files as they were found; the present arrangement has adopted a series of broadly thematic sequences. Within each file there has frequently been some re-ordering of papers: in particular, runs of correspondence have generally been arranged in chronological order. A large portion of Butterfield's correspondence was found partially arranged in alphabetical order, and this material was sorted and listed by Dr Mark Nicholls before the present catalogue was undertaken. The resulting list, with a few minor emendations, now comprises the final file entry of this catalogue, 531.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Lady Pamela Butterfield in January 1980 via the Friends of Cambridge University Library.

Related Materials

A number of diaries and other personal papers were retained by the family, and a few files which referred exclusively to University business were transferred to the University Archives.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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