The Great War: Margaret Postgate Cole

margaret cole 2

Margaret Postgate Cole – Nuffield College Archive Supp I/37

Margaret Postgate Cole’s primary connection to Nuffield College comes through her husband – who was a Fellow and Deputy Warden of the college, and whose personal library and papers form the basis of the Nuffield College Library. Margaret was an important and distinguished figure in her own right, however. She was active in the Guild Socialist movement and wrote widely; publishing works in labour history and biography, as well as detective fiction and poetry.

According to Cole herself, it was WW1 that provided the catalyst for her political life to follow. In particular, an important moment of political awakening came when her younger brother was called up to military service. An internationalist and a Socialist, he sought exemption as a conscientious objector. He was denied it, however (sympathy for those who objected on grounds other than religion was not widespread at the time). In turn he refused the non-combatant service offered as an alternative and as a consequence was briefly imprisoned. Later, Margaret – who had traveled to Oxford to offer her support – wrote:

…it is almost literally true that when I walked away from the Oxford court room…I walked into a new world of doubters and protesters – and into a new war – this time against the ruling classes and the government which represented them, and with the working classes, the Trade Unionists, the Irish rebels of Easter Week, and all those who resisted their governments or other governments which held them down. (1949, p.58)

She began working for the Fabian Research Department almost immediately thereafter.

Although increasingly politically minded then, Cole began her writing career as a poet, and in 1918 she published a volume of poems, many of which dealt with themes of war. Recently some of these poems have formed a part of anthologies published to mark the centenary of the war, such as Tim Kendall’s Poetry of the First World War. Nuffield College archive holds manuscript versions of some of these poems:


‘Praematuri’ by Margaret Cole from Nuffield College Archive Margaret Cole collection A3/1



Cole, Margaret, 1949, Growing up into revolution: a personal record of the British Labour Movement by Margaret Cole, London: Longmans, Green

- (can be found in the library at ‘Nuf.Cole, Margaret’ – please ask staff)

Vernon, Betty D., 1986, Margaret Cole, 1893-1980: a political biography, Beckenham: Croom Helm Ltd.

- (can be found in the library at HX 243.C)


The library has lots more material on and by Margaret Cole – both in the archive and in the main collection. If you are interested please don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff for further details.

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The Great War: textbook collection

Nuffield library has an extensive and interesting amount of material on World War One on the 3rd floor. The following is a very small sample of material the library holds.

In the Oxford Collection (in the Current Affairs Room on the 1st floor) there is A century of Oxford by Malcolm Graham. This has a wonderful collection of photographs from the 20th century. The section on World War One illustrates the effect of war on university and city life. There are photographs of a tented hospital in New College gardens, a hospital in the Town Hall and wards and operating theatres in the Examination Schools. An enormous change is also illustrated by women working in munitions factories and as postwomen and ticket collectors, although they were expected to leave the workplace when the men returned from war.

In addition there is a recruiting sergeant encouraging men to enlist in September 1914 at St. Giles Fair. It mentions the enormous response at the beginning of the war might have been prompted by the “white feather campaigns” against those perceived as cowards as well as by patriotism. At that time no one thought the war would last into the next year so these young men really did not know what they were signing up for. Surprisingly there was no conscription until 1916; all were either regular soldiers or volunteers.

Some biographies illustrate the enormous changes after the war. Of the three monarchs (George V, Kaiser William II and Tsar Nicholas II), George V would be the only one of the three cousins alive and reigning after 1918. Anti-German feeling had caused George V to change the royal family’s name from the German sounding Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. King George V by Kenneth Rose describes these moves including the changing of the names of relations of the royal family; Prince Louis of Battenberg took the name Mountbatten and became the Marquis of Milford Haven.

We also have works about other countries’ participation and reactions to the war. Woodrow Wilson and World War I: 1917-1921 by Robert H. Ferres contains information on America’s participation in the war. The spirit of 1914: militarism, myth and mobilization in Germany by Jeffrey Verney considers the war from a German point of view and July 1914: the long debate, 1918-1990 by John W. Langdon gives a variety of opinions of the causes and the effects of the war.

The origins of the First World War by James Joll offers an insight into the events of 1914 and in general the causes of the war. This volume concentrates on that fateful summer 100 years ago.

There have also been two recent purchases:

Margot Asquith’s Great War diary, 1914-1916. The wife of Britain’s Prime-Minister, H.H. Asquith, from 1908-1916 provides a fascinating view of the government and life in Downing Street during the first half of the war.

In addition we have just purchased First World War: still no end in sight by Frank Furedi which “argues that the battle of ideas which crystallizes during the course of the Great War continues to the present”.

The library even has a book on books on war! War books: a critical guide by Cyril Falls.


The Bodleian Library is also participating in the First World War centenary with an exhibition and talks.


A century of Oxford / Malcolm Graham (1999). Shelf mark: OXF DA 690.O98.G

King George V / Kenneth Rose (1983). Shelf mark: DA 573.R

Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921 / Robert H. Ferrell (1985). Shelf mark: D 619.F

The spirit of 1914 : militarism, myth, and mobilization in Germany / Jeffrey Verhey (2000). Shelf mark: D 528.5.V

July 1914 : the long debate, 1918-1990John W. Langdon (1991). Shelf mark: D 511.L

The origins of the First World War / James Joll (1984). Shelf mark: D 511.J

Margot Asquith’s Great War diary, 1914-1916 : the view from Downing Street / selected and edited by Michael and Eleanor Brock (2014). Shelf mark: DA 566.9.O8.B

First World Warstill no end in sight / Frank Furedi (2014). Shelf mark: D 523.F

War books, a critical guide / Cyril Falls (1930). Shelf mark: D 521.F

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The Great War centenary: the archive collections

Archive collections

The many faces of the Great War, political, scientific, social and military, are clearly reflected in the archive collections. There are five in particular that contain a quantity of material which is of interest to researchers and historians.  Please click on any of the images for larger versions.

Lord Cherwell, Frederick Lindemann

As Cherwell was scientific adviser to Winston Churchill, and a close personal friend, his archive collection is better known for it’s Second World War content.  However, among the scientific research, writings and conferences in Section C of the collection are papers and correspondence relating to Cherwell’s work at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, 1915-1918. He worked on various projects there connected with range and direction finding, detection of submarines and aircraft, and aircraft spin, and these are documented here. In file D.51 there is also correspondence with A.C.G. Egerton, one of Cherwell’s earliest colleagues, of which 1914 relates to Cherwell’s and Egerton’s attempts to assist the war effort and includes a copy of their letter for 8 August 1914 offering their services to the War Office. There are other letters between him and scientific colleagues, including W.H. Nernst (D.167-D.172) and R.W. Pohl (D.180).

Cherwell archive collection C.13/2

Cherwell archive collection C.13/2

Lord Emmott

Alfred, Baron Emmott, was a politician and cotton manufacturer who was an MP, served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, directed the War Trade Department, chaired a commission looking into the desirability of decimal coinage and was Chairman of the Foreign Office Committee collecting information on conditions in Russia, among other roles. His collection has three areas of interest:

  • diaries from 1914-1915 (I),
  • correspondence and memorandum, 1912-1921 which includes material such as an account of the North Sea battle by an officer of the 5th Battle Squadron, 11 Jun 1916 (ff 37-44) (II) and a file of memorandum and correspondence on the need for a permanent trade intelligence bureau, Nov-Dec 1916 (ff 59-94), (II)
  • miscellaneous press cuttings, 1913-1920 (ff 1-287) (III/16)

Lord Gainford (Pease family)

The Pease family was a prominent English and mostly Quaker family associated with Darlington and County Durham.  The family established the Stockton and Darlington Railway in the 1820s and a family bank, the failure of which in 1902 forced several of them close to bankruptcy. Nine members of the family were Members of Parliament, including the first Quaker Member of Parliament.  They were also heavily involved during the 19th and early 20th centuries in woollen manufacturing, railways, coal mines, and politics and the collection, therefore, contains correspondence, papers and publications giving a valuable insight into social and political history from that period. However, there are many sections of particular relevance to the First World War:

  • Box 34 contains Joseph Albert Pease’s (JAP) diaries from 1915, which include private particulars of war events given to the Cabinet and accounts of trips to France with the Claims Commission, 1915-1917.
  • Boxes 35-37 contain JAP’s war reminisces from 1914-1920.
  • Box 49 has press cuttings of political activities and post World War One social activities, while boxes 53, 54 & 55 contain cuttings, telegrams, letters and House of Commons voting records and campaign literature, various memorial services, including Kitchener and Unknown Soldier, along with many cuttings about early broadcasting, 1914-1924.
  • Box 58 contains press cuttings and leaflets on World War One, for example maps of the different battle fronts, memo regarding Anglo-German negotiations on the subject of the limitation of armaments and cognate matters and leaflets from the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee.
  • Box 85 includes correspondence and leaflets from the war years, covering subjects such as JAPs son enlisting, how the family views the war as Quakers, notes on classes for recruits at White City and leaflets by JAP on education and the war and ‘Why did we go to war?’.
  • Boxes 86-91 contain material and correspondence from 1915-1919, much relating to the war at home and abroad.
  • Box 122 contains Cabinet memos from 1912 and 1916, including ‘secret history of negotiations with Germany’, while box 123 has selected war papers sent to JAP, 1916, boxes 124-128 cover his time at the Board of Education, 1911-1915 and boxes 129-130 his time as Postmaster General, 1916.
  • Box 144 has printed reports on foreign newspapers for the Cabinet, 1915-1917.
  • Box 147 contains papers relating to the Claims Commission, 1917-1920.
  • Box 163 includes miscellaneous printed political pamphlets, 1895-1918, many during the war years, as does box 164.
  • Boxes 178 and 179 has miscellaneous correspondence & papers, 1911-1918, much between JAP and his son, Joseph, at the front.
  • Boxes 189-192 form part of the Elsie Pease’s collection, JAP’s wife, and contain mostly correspondence with friends and family during the war years.
  • Miriam Pease’s, JAP’s eldest daughter, correspondence and diaries for the war years are in boxes 197 and 198.
Gainford archive collection 34/1

Gainford archive collection 34/1

Guild Socialism

These papers are a collection of records of the Guild Socialist movement from 1915 to the mid 1920’s. They include National Guild League minute books, propaganda publications, material from overseas (including America, Australia, India and Japan), special interest groups (including agriculture, women and the Douglas credit scheme) and League conference material.  Much of the material is from the latter years of the war into the early 1920’s but serve to illustrate Guild thinking locally and internationally at this time.

Lord Mottistone

The papers of John Edward Bernard Seely, Lord Mottistone, have been divided into six main classes: general correspondence, political papers, official papers, military papers, literary papers and press cuttings. They cover his very varied career; from his time at the War Office, as a soldier during the First World War, in the House of Lords and to Chairman of the National Savings Committee.  There is much in the collection of relevance therefore, but of particular interest are:

  • I. General correspondence, MSS Mottistone 2 & 3 which cover the war years.
  • III Official papers, MSS Mottistone 11, 12 & 13, papers of the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID) covering the lead up to war and the early years such as documentation regarding the Standing Sub-Committee of the C.I.D. on possible attacks on the British Isles from overseas, including arrangements for home defence in the event of invasion and on the control of aircraft. These include much discussion on the use, or not, of airships, an offer from Birmingham to supply a military aircraft and moves to establish a Liverpool flying corps.
  • III Official papers, MSS Mottistone 15 & 16 contain printed Cabinet memorandum from 1913 & 1914, while MSS Mottistone 17-22A cover War Office documentation and MSS Mottistone 23 documents the Ministry of Munitions and Air, 1918-1919.
  • IV Military papers, MSS Mottistone 24 is a military dossier, 1914-1918 containing items such as notes and memoranda on enemy and allied movements and attacks, including a map of trenches, account of a raid by the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on February 12th/13th 1918 and letters from casualties, all signed, of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade wishing Seely all the best if the rumour is true of his imminent departure from command, June 1918.
  • Other notable items include MSS Mottistone 25/15-104 Seely’s war diary as special service officer to Sir John French, 1914-1915 and MSS Mottistone 38, an album of press cuttings, photographs and cartoons, 1917-1920.
Mottistone archive collection 24/7

Mottistone archive collection 24/7

Further details on these and all the Library archive collections can be found on our website.

The Bodleian Library is also participating in the First World War centenary with an exhibition and talks.

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The Great War: Trade Union and Political Party material

Nuffield College Library is participating in the First World War centenary by showing you material that the library holds from this period and about the Great War. There will be a series of posts each week leading up to the 28th July, when the war began, beginning this week with the library’s Trade Union and Political Party material.

The library has a considerable Trade Union and Political Party collection on the 7th floor. Some of the material dates back to the years of the First World War and gives an impression of how the war affected organisations and people’s lives .

David Lloyd George of the Liberal Party succeeded Herbert Henry Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916 and formed the Wartime Coalition Government. The library holds pamphlets and leaflets of the Liberal Party from 1903-1929 (and later 1946-1985), which include Acts, speeches, and leaflets on the development of the war. The 1914 volume contains Lloyd George’s speech, given when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, “Through Terror

Liberal Party pamphlets and leaflets, 1914

Liberal Party pamphlets and leaflets, 1918, shelf mark PP Lib 1

to Triumph” at Queen’s Hall, London, in which he discusses the recruitment campaign for the war. It was also under Lloyd George that women won the right to vote for the first time in 1918.

Looking at some of the Political Party material that the library holds, we can see how companies and organisations struggled through the war. The Postman’s Gazette from June 8th 1918 describes how the war came at a time when the Postman’s Federation was being reorganised and new machines were being set up, which were delayed. Men were sent to war, which initially decreased staffing numbers but later saw temporary workers employed. The publication also details the Relief Fund, set up to provide money and employment for widows and orphans of Post Office staff.

1919, PP Lib 1

Liberal Party pamphlets and leaflets, 1919, shelf mark PP Lib 1

Also in the Trade Union collection is The Association of Tax Surveying Officers Quarterly Record. In the 1915 volume the editorial discusses the increase of income tax to support wartime expenditure: “the National war-chest, when war is forced upon us, is not to be drained until the nation has given its all” (p. 4). In the 1919 volume, by which time the war has ended, looks at the restructuring of staff as male surveyors and clerks return home. They hoped to keep the female clerks, who were recruited during the war while men were fighting, and that returning soldiers would take on more senior positions to relieve staff of additional burdens created during the war. There is also discussion of income tax and how to proceed in order to reflect modern developments in finance, commerce, and industry.

The Trade Union and Political Party collection offers an insight into life during the war with titles that were published in the midst of battle, as opposed to modern texts written retrospectively. Details of titles the library holds are available on the library website. In the next couple of weeks will be blog posts on the library’s archive material and textbooks relating to the First World War.

The Bodleian Library is also participating in the First World War centenary with an exhibition and talks.


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Summer vacation opening hours 2014

Monday 14th July sees a change in the library’s opening times during the summer vacation*:


Sun0114th July – 12th September: 13:30 – 17:30 only

Sun01CLOSED Bank Holiday: Monday 25th August

Sun0115th September – 10th October – 09:30 – 17:30

–Standard loan periods apply throughout the summer vacation–


* This does not apply to Nuffield College members, who will have normal access throughout

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From the archives – Sir Norman Chester

Sir Daniel Norman Chester (1907–1986)

Chester photograph in Library corridor

Photograph of Sir Norman Chester in Nuffield College Library

As Warden of Nuffield College from 1954 to 1978, Norman Chester would possibly count one of his greatest achievements as being the reconciliation of Lord Nuffield to the College he had founded.  Lord Nuffield had become disillusioned with the direction the College was taking and had fallen out with one of its leading figures, G.D.H. Cole.  Nevertheless, Chester worked hard to establish a friendly and open relationship with him which resulted in an extremely productive association, during which Chester crucially shaped the early development of this new college for the social sciences; from the finances and furnishing to the recruitment of fellows and students.  The testament to his efforts came on Lord Nuffield’s death in 1963 when he made the college his residuary legatee.


However, there are many more achievements to note as Chester’s career flourished, following double strands of academic pursuits and public service.  This is something the papers in the archive collection reflect and of which Lord Nuffield no doubt approved, given his great belief in the importance of academics mixing with the outside world!  The main collection is contained in 325 boxes and its arrangement gives a valuable and revealing insight into the life and career of an outstanding man:

A. Biographical section: containing his diaries from 1924-1986, correspondence, lecture notes and his thesis from his time at the University of Manchester, material from the War Cabinet Economics Section, to which he was recruited on the outbreak of the war, and documents and correspondence regarding the Beveridge Report and Voluntary Social Services Enquiry.

B. General correspondence section: covering the years 1935-1986 and matters such as academic and general advice given, publishers, invitations to speak and universities he was involved in from Birmingham to Swansea, London School of Economics to Glasgow.

C. Oxford University section: spanning from 1949-1986 and including correspondence and documentation on examining, references, PPE, the Joint University Council for Social Studies and Public Administration and Social Studies Board. There are also small sections on Oxford University Clubs, 1947-1971, the Heyworth, Robbins and Franks Commissions, 1957-1966 and P.D. Leake Fellowship and Gladstone Professorship, 1955-1974.

Photograph of the Duke of Edinburgh with Lord Nuffield and Norman Chester at the ceremony for the presentation of the Royal Charter - from Nuffield College Papers, A3/4/9

Photograph of the Duke of Edinburgh with Lord Nuffield and Norman Chester at the ceremony for the presentation of the Royal Charter – from Nuffield College Papers, A3/4/9

D. Nuffield College section: a wealth of information from 1946-1985, a very formative time in the College’s development: from his initial involvement, speeches in College and election as Warden, to matters concerning the Fellows and Students and his overseas visits.

E. Academic bodies section: Chester was involved in many academic bodies and this section reflects this, with documentation relating to Royal Institute of Public Administration, 1932-1985, Nuffield Foundation, 1949-1967, Political Studies Association, 1949-1979, International Political Science Association, 1950-1983, Public Records Office Publications Committee, 1961-1979, Comparative Politics Group, 1967-1970, Study of Parliament Group, 1964-1986 and European Consortium for Political Research, 1969-1981.

F. Other bodies section: illustrating that double strand of Chester’s career, this section is more concerned with public bodies such as the Local Government Examinations Board and Institute of Hospital Administrators, 1942-1953, Civil Service recruitment and training, 1943-1980, local government, 1944-1977, building industry, 1946-1960, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1950-1959, Monopolies Commission: transport and newspapers, 1959-1969 and Petroleum Press Bureau Foundation, 1969-1978, among others.

G. Publications section: while containing copies of his many lectures, speeches, articles and words of advice, this section also has material about his books: ‘The nationalised industries: an analysis of the statutory provisions’ (2nd ed.) (1951), ‘Central and local government’ (1951), ‘Lessons of the British war economy’ (1951), ‘Questions in Parliament’ (1962), ‘The nationalisation of British industry, 1945-51’ (1975), ‘The English administrative system, 1780-1870’ (1981), ‘Economics, politics and social studies in Oxford, 1900-45’ (1986). There is also a wealth of material for a history of Nuffield College which was sadly never published.

H. Additional material: this last section is a miscellaneous collection of other documents, such as certificates and photographs, but also of various recordings of Chester over the years. These include speeches by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh and DNC on the occasion of the granting of a Charter to Nuffield College, 1958, a conversation between DNC and Austen Harrison recorded at Nuffield College, 1970 and a conversation between Sir Alec Cairncross and DNC [probably Autumn 1985]. There are also a couple of films which Chester was involved with: ‘Wheels of fortune’, a B.B.C. film about Lord Nuffield and ‘The Gov’nor: the story of William Morris, his motors and his millions’, by Rene Cutforth.


In addition to all of this he was a keen sportsman, with an abiding love of football. Harold Wilson persuaded him to chair a government committee of inquiry (1966–8) on association football and he was a key figure in football for the rest of his life. He served as chairman of the Football Grounds Improvement Trust and as deputy chairman of the Football Trust. Sorted out from the main archive collection for Chester, there were also 20 cartons of material which came from his interest in and service to football.  These were sent to the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at the University of Leicester in 1987.

As well as papers relating to the two official bodies he served on, there were papers from the official inquiries into the status and administration of the game, resulting in the two Chester Reports and from the Royal Commission on Gambling; reports and related papers of a large number of independent inquiries into aspects of the sport; material concerned with academic research into crowd behaviour at football matches and related soccer problems and miscellaneous personal material of Sir Norman Chester (match mementos, etc.); his collection of books on football and a large amount of handbooks, pamphlets, programmes, magazines and other football ephemera.

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