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The Papers of George Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers

Reference Code: GBR/0014/PIRI

Scope and Contents

The papers include: papers relating to GPR's anthropological and other scientific work, including involvement in eugenics; papers relating to his political activities, including letters to and from the British Union of Fascists, mostly concerning his 1935 run for Parliament; and large number of documents related to GPR’s 18B detention and internment.


  • Creation: 1831 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Pitt-Rivers (GPR) was a large Dorset landowner and anthropological researcher. After being wounded in the First World War he turned his attentions to science, travelling to the South Pacific in the early 1920s and later producing a volume on the 'Clash of Cultures' he witnessed there. It was also in this period that he became interested in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and made the acquaintance of Oscar Levy, the first English translator of his work, with whom GPR maintained a long relationship and correspondence about the major political issues of the day. In addition to anthropology, GPR was deeply interested in eugenics and was a long-standing member and officer of the London-based Eugenics Society, with which he eventually clashed. In the early 1930s he became increasingly involved in politics, helping establish the Anti-Tithe movement in Dorset and founding the Wessex Agricultural Defence Association. He ran for Parliament as an independent candidate in the 1935 general election, earning fewer than two-thousand votes and losing his deposit, though beating the Labour candidate. This campaign also took him into the circles of the far right, and he established contacts within the British Union of Fascists. As the 1930s went on he became increasingly interested in German National Socialism, travelling to the country on numerous occasions and lecturing on British fascism and eugenics in German universities. His correspondence files reflect a deep affinity for the tenets of Nazism, and he wrote Hitler personal congratulations on his successes in 1938 (in PIRI 1/5/4). He also attended the 1937 Nuremberg Rally as a guest of the regime. After the outbreak of the Second World War these contacts came back to haunt him, and in 1940 he was arrested and interned under defence regulation 18B as a possible threat to national security. He was eventually released from captivity due to medical problems stemming from his extensive First World War wounds, and in the post-war world he appears to have been little involved in politics or science, though his research notes indicate that he was preparing manuscripts on a vast number of topics including the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals, of which he disapproved. He died in 1966.


48 archive box(es)

13 item(s) (13 slide boxes)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in five accessions, between 2009-2017 by the Pitt-Rivers family and the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford.


The collection (fonds) level description was prepared by Andrew Riley of Churchill Archives Centre in October 2015 using information from a detailed box listing prepared by Dr Bradley Hart on behalf of the Centre and also Hart's subsequent publication, "George Pitt-Rivers and the Nazis" (2015). The papers were arranged, a new accession was added (which arrived in 2017), and this basic catalogue was compiled by Madelin Evans in 2018-2019.

Date information

DateText: Mostly dated 1914-1966.


Rivers, George Henry Lane Fox Pitt-,1890-1966, author, anthropologist, Second World War internee

2015-10-28 09:49:27+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087