This record is held by Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Details of BALDWIN
Reference: BALDWIN

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.


Finally, on a more personal note, I must record that the real credit for what has been done on the Baldwin papers since they reached Cambridge belongs to my late colleague F.T.K. Caröe. Mr Caröe was wholly occupied in sorting and arranging the papers for eighteen months during 1953-4, and intermittently thereafter until his retirement in 1963. His very full report on the collection made to the Council of the Senate in October 1954, and the abbreviated version of this prepared subsequently, together with his meticulous notes on every file, form the basis of this handlist and have proved indispensable to its compiler who embarked on it as a matter of urgency with almost no prior knowledged of the subject matter. Many of the observations in this introduction are his, freely and gratefully borrowed from his original report. I must also express my indebtedness to my former colleague Mr D.F.R. Missen, who did a great deal of work on the collection after Mr Caröe's retirement: first, in compiling an index to correspondents in the section of Letters; subsequently, in the tedious but essential tasks involved in preparing the papers for binding.


University Library, Cambridge


26 May 1972



Date: 1905-1955

The arrangement of the papers requires some explanation. The original system of filing had been partly by subjects, partly chronological. For example, the files on Foreign Affairs include Series A, where papers on one subject, sometimes extending over several years, are assembled in one file; and Series B, where a single file for one year may encompass half-a-dozen unrelated subjects. Trade had been similarly treated, though in this case it has proved possible to integrate the two systems in a single, roughly chronological, series. India is a chronological series, but the subject series Imperial also contains files devoted to India and there is further material elsewhere, e.g. in the series Dominions and Colonies. Lines of demarcation between files are often hazy, and there is much overlapping. Despite these hazards for the user, it would have been neither practicable nor desirable when sorting to make fundamental changes in the original arrangement, which remains essentially unaltered. But some tidying-up in detail was unavoidable: for example, the section of Letters was found in disorder; some regrouping had, in a few cases, to be undertaken where two subjects had been confused, e.g. League of Nations and League of Nations Union; many files and papers were found out of place and had to be fitted into what seemed appropriate positions, which sometimes involved the creation of additional files; and numbers needed to be allotted to some series previously unnumbered. Finally, to make the subject basis of the whole collection clearer, related series have been brought together under a few broad groupings - Home Affairs, Empire Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Letters, Personal, Speeches - which did not previously exist.


While the papers still lay unbound in folders and filing-boxes in the University Library, an overall system of numbering was introduced to make reference easier, and each subject group or series was allotted a number (e.g. D.4.8, F.7). In most cases there is also a file title, such as League of Nations 2. As these references still appear on the old file covers (now bound in), and show the structure of the collection, they have been included in the handlist. But now that all the papers are bound into volumes, it is sufficient when ordering or quoting material to cite the volume number, and the folio within the volume.


At an early stage of sorting in the Library it had been agreed that documents marked as the property of H.M. Government should be sent back to the Cabinet Office. Such documents were therefore extracted and filed separately, in anticipation of their removal. But subsequently it was decided that, with the few exceptions already noted, they should remain with the collection while being subject to the "fifty-year rule" which at that time (1955) regulated access to similar documents in the Public Records. Later still, the substitution of the "thirty-year rule" and a review of the items in question led to a gradual removal of the restrictions on all of them. As, however, it was by then too late - since binding was already well under way - to restore most of them to their original places in the files, they appear at the end of the list in a section of Papers Withdrawn.


Letters from members of the Royal Family, correspondence with royal Private Secretaries, and documents relating to the Abdication crisis of 1936 were also extracted and filed separately. These all remain subject to restrictions, details of which are given in the list.








1-2 D.1. Defence, etc.


3-10 D.2. Finance, etc.


11-34 D.3. Labour, Trade, etc.


35-63 D.4. Political and Party Affairs


64-5 D.5. Local Affairs and Miscellaneous


66-89 D.6. Deputations




90-5 E.1. "Imperial", i.e. Miscellaneous Dominion and Colonial Affairs


96-7 E.2. Dominions and Colonies


98 E.3. Dominions and Colonies: Trade


99-101 E.4. Ireland


102-7 E.5. India




108-13 F.1. Foreign Affairs Series A


114-24 F.2. Foreign Affairs Series B


125-8 F.3. Reparations


129 F.4. Disarmament


130-1 F.5. Naval Conferences


132 F.6. League of Nations


133 F.7. League of Nations Union


134 F.8. "Peace Letter"


135-78 L. LETTERS


135-58 L.1. Letters of Congratulation, etc.


159-75 L.2. Letters: General Files


176-8 L.3. "The Royal Box"


179-81 P. PERSONAL


179 P.1. Chequers


180-1 P.2. Freedoms and Honorary Degrees


182-228 S. SPEECHES


182-205 S.1. Briefs and Drafts for Speeches, etc.


205 S.2. Oddments and Fragments


205-13 S.3. Speeches


214 S.4. Canadian Tour


215 S.5. Press Cuttings (Miscellaneous)


216-28 S.6. Press Cuttings (Main Series)



Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Baldwin, Stanley, 1867-1947, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and politician

Physical description: 233 volumes
Access conditions:



The Baldwin papers in the University Library are available for research without special permission on the same terms as other manuscripts in the Library. Intending users who are not members of Cambridge University are recommended, in their own interests, to write to the Librarian in advance of a visit, so that they may be informed of the times of opening and the regulations for admission to the Library which are currently in force.


Permission to consult these papers does not imply permission to acquire photocopies of copyright material, nor to make use of any such material in published form, except with the permission of the owner of the copyright.

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.

  • Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Colonial countries
  • Conservatism
  • Heads of state
  • Politicians
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