Business, Economic and Labour History

A range of important sources from Britain and America, covering key subjects within this historical field, including Keynesian economic policy in post-war Britain, international labour movements, the London stock exchange and papers of important economists.

Modules include

Module Summary Date
Business and Financial Papers: Series Two

The Mechanical Engineer, 1897-1917

Originally published on a weekly basis by the Scientific Publishing Company, Manchester, these volumes of The Mechanical Engineer feature excellent diagrams and illustrations to match the authoritative articles and reports. It is not merely a technical journal. There are also many articles detailing the interaction between science, commerce and industry. There are frequent comparative features describing the state of industry in Britain, France, Germany and particularly America where technological innovation, new systems of organisation and business management set the standard with which others had to compete.

1897 - 1917
Business and Financial Papers: Series Three

Oil News, 1912-1939

This weekly trade journal is an excellent source for the study of the worldwide oil industry. It provides the researcher with detailed insights into individual corporations such as Asiatic Petroleum, Anglo-Persian Oil, Burmah, California Oil, Chicago Barstow Oil, Galizische Karpathen AG, Gulf Oil, the Indiana Oil Syndicate, Mexican Eagle Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and Standard Oil. There are interviews with leading industrialists, analysis of demand fluctuations, details of oil crises, explanations of price rises, and articles on new discoveries.

1912 - 1939
Economists’ Papers, Series One

The Papers of William Stanley Jevons

British theorist and one of the chief architects of modern economics, William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) is best known for his innovative thinking in The Theory of Political Economy (1871), his explanation of cyclical phenomena using statistical analysis, and his work on the development of the ‘marginal principle’, leading to his pioneering contributions to modern applied and mainstream economics. In addition to his spectacular achievements, he published numerous books on economics and logic, and also had a profound influence on popular understanding of a whole range of other subjects, including scientific method and principles, coal, banking and finance. This collection features over 600 letters sent to Jevons, his diaries and notebooks, and a great mass of rough notes and manuscript drafts on a vast range of subjects.

1835 - 1882
Economists’ Papers, Series Two

The Diaries of John Neville Keynes 

An important biographical source which offers a detailed picture of Victorian and Edwardian family life, these diaries will be of interest to scholars of Victorian studies and literature as well as to those interested in the history of economic thought. The fact that they document the life of one of the major figures of classical economics and the early life and influences of the founder of Keynesian economics is an added benefit. 

The details of John Neville Keynes’ schooldays and time at university are particularly appealing. There are details of his courtship and subsequent marriage and it is interesting to see the clearly defined roles of Victorian Society being played out. His subsequent career as a university administrator provides fascinating insights into university life in general. His reading notes are also of interest and we also see how John Maynard Keynes' precocious talents were nurtured. Subsequent letters, written into the diary, from Maynard (as he was known to his family) while at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, or on board an ocean liner to America, reveal the closeness of his relationship with his parents and their pride in his achievements. 

Economists’ Papers, Series Three

The Papers of Carl Menger

Carl Menger (1840-1921) was the founder of the Austrian school of marginal analysis and was a leading figure in intellectual life in Vienna from 1872 to 1903. Part 1 of this project makes available 62 notebooks from 1867 to 1920, giving us profound insights into what was being read in this period (and his thoughts on it all) and the development of his economic ideas. Together with the loose manuscripts, lectures and annotated printed matter in Parts 2 and 3 of this collection, Menger’s papers facilitate a thorough examination of the ideas that helped to revolutionise economic theory and the methodology of the social sciences. They are vital for any understanding of the Austrian School of Economics, the German Historical School and the intellectual climate in Vienna at the turn of the century.

1867 - 1920
Fabian Economic and Social Thought: Series Two

The Papers of Hugh Dalton, Part One: The Complete Diaries, 1916-1960

Born in 1887, Dalton was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge (where he read mathematics and economics, taught by Pigou and Keynes). He discovered Fabian Socialism together with his close friend, Rupert Brooke. Dalton became a lifelong member of the Fabian Society (1919-1962) and attended the London School of Economics at the Webbs’ instigation to get his doctorate in economics. His diary was inspired by the example of Beatrice Webb and began during the First World War, when he was serving with the Royal Artillery in Italy.

This diary is so valuable because it is the only diary of a prominent Labour politician kept for much of the period, because of the amount of detail recorded, and because of the clear picture it provides of all the manoeuvres and finagling in party politics and government which escape public notice. Contained within 56 notebooks and folders, it amounts to roughly 1.5 million words.

1916 - 1960
Labour, Social Justice and World Affairs

The Papers of David A Morse, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, 1948-1970

The legacy of David Abner Morse (1907-1990) was global. As Director-General of the ILO - a specialised agency of the United Nations - for an unprecedented 22 years between 1948 and 1970, he dedicated himself to improving the lot of workers throughout the world. A man of high ideals and exceptional acumen, he upheld the universality of workers' socio-economic rights amid the conflicting claims of communist and non-communist systems and have and have-not nations. In 1969 he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the ILO, a recognition of the organisation’s contribution to international harmony and prosperity under his leadership.

Throughout his life, Morse met and corresponded with many individuals of national and international significance concerning labour issues. This collection contains correspondence or records of discussion with Dean Acheson, Leonid Brezhnev, Dwight D Eisenhower, Dag Hammarskjöld, Averell Harriman, Paul G Hoffman, C Wilfred Jenks, David Lilienthal, George Marshall, Leopold Senghor and U Thant.

1948 - 1970
The Stock Exchange Official Year-Book

The London Stock Exchange was at the centre of the world’s financial and trading markets from 1875 to 1945. It was the place to raise capital and almost every country in the world featured in its lists of government securities and company stocks. The strength of the British economy in the period and the international spread of the British Empire contributed to its importance.

The Stock Exchange Year-Book started in 1875 and quickly grew in size and stature, eclipsing rival publications. Its readers acknowledged it as an essential reference source for tracking the growth and the development of individual companies, international markets and the economy as a whole. Today it is acknowledged as a basic reference source for economic and business historians, but one for which most libraries only hold scattered issues. Every issue presented here is packed with detail and is extensively indexed; for each company the volume gives lists of directors, date of establishment, capital value and the amount paid up or subscribed, details of trading, dividends and dates of meetings.

1875 - 1945
Treasury Papers: Series One

Papers of the Economic Section

The Papers of the Economic Section (The National Archives class T 230) provides scholars with an opportunity to see the first instance of Keynesian economic principles being applied to a real economy.

Starting in 1941, the British Government employed professional economists to advise on economic policy in a group known as the Economic Section. The first four directors, John Jewkes (Jan-Sep 1941), Lionel Robbins (Sep 1941 - Autumn 1945), James Meade (Autumn 1945 - April 1947) and Robert Hall (Sep 1947-1961), were ably supported by a range of economists including Marcus Fleming, Bryan Hopkin, Russell Bretherton, A Pigou, Christopher Dow, Fred Atkinson and Jack Downie. John Maynard Keynes was an important direct and indirect influence on the Economic Section. He commented regularly on Discussion Papers and proposals, helping to clarify the correct application of his ideas to the real economic issues.

Treasury Papers: Series Two

Treasury Papers of John Maynard Keynes

This collection provides all the working papers of John Maynard Keynes and his private office at the Treasury, covering his second period of service at the Treasury, from 1940 until his death in 1946. These papers relate to his membership of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Consultative Committee and cover the whole range of economic policy, especially international finance, reconstruction and the external constraints on post-war domestic policy.

1940 - 1946

Key data

Period covered

1875 - 1970

Source archives

  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library, University of Manchester
  • Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University
  • The National Archives, UK
  • London School of Economics and Political Science, London
  • Library of Birmingham
  • The Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • Cambridge University Library
  • William R Perkins Library, Duke University
  • Labour movements
  • Socialism and the Fabian Society
  • Politics
  • Economic theory and practice
  • Government policy
  • Business history
  • International markets
  • Industry and commerce
  • Government files
  • Personal writings, diaries and journals
  • Correspondence
  • Periodicals
  • Business and Economics
  • Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish Studies

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