From the Archive – Alexander Loveday

Alexander Loveday was the third warden of Nuffield College.


Born in Scotland in October 1888, he was educated at Shrewsbury School and Peterhouse College, Cambridge. After some years spent as a lecturer – first in political philosophy at Leipzig University, and then in economics at Cambridge – he entered the War Office in 1915, where he worked for the duration of the First World War.

In 1919, with that war at a close, he joined the Economic and Finance section of the newly-founded League of Nations. The League was an intergovernmental body formed as a result of the Paris Peace Conference. With offices in Geneva, its primary aim was to provide a forum for resolving international disputes, thereby promoting international co-operation in an attempt to prevent a repetition of the horrors of WW1.

The League also aimed to promote international cooperation in social and economic matters and it was in this arena that Loveday played a prominent role. He was appointed Director of the Financial Section and Economic Intelligence Section in 1931, and in 1939, during a period in which the League was undergoing reorganisation and scaling down its operations as a result of the outbreak of war in Europe, he became Director of the Economic, Financial and Transit Department.


League of Nations discussions over the Saar territory. Loveday is seated closest to the camera

Loveday continued to work for the League until shortly before its eventual demise (the League’s inability to prevent the outbreak of the Second World War was considered an irreparable failing, and though it maintained activity through the war, its powers were greatly reduced and the organisation finally officially ceased activity in 1946). Unsurprisingly then, Nuffield College Library’s Loveday archive collection offers excellent insight into the workings of this historic organisation, from its formation through to its untimely end; with documents indicating the Economic and Finance Section’s response to key historic events such as the Spanish Civil War, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Greek invasion of Bulgaria, data collated for a number of League publications including the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, and information about research into topics ranging from nutrition to economic depressions.

After WW2 Loveday was briefly involved with the League’s replacement body, the UN, and worked for a short while in America, as a Member for the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, before taking up a Fellowship at Nuffield College in 1946. In 1950 he became the third warden of Nuffield, a position he would hold for four years until his eventual retirement in 1954. Whilst in this post he oversaw the latter stages of the building of College and continued to conduct research into a range of international economic matters, as well as helping to facilitate the research of other College members.

The archive contains much material related to Loveday’s working life, but also his personal life – including family photographs, diaries ranging from 1908-1962, sketch books and publications. As such, it offers a glimpse into the interests and activities of a figure who was often interestingly placed to view events of considerable historical significance.

If you would like to access material in the Loveday archive (which is currently undergoing a reorganisation) please contact the library at More information about the archives can be found by following this link:

In addition, the library also holds a number of Loveday’s longer publications within our main book collection. For example The only way: a study of democracy in danger (JC 421.L) and Reflections on international administration (JX 1905.L).


About Nuffield College Library

We are a social sciences library serving Nuffield College and the University of Oxford
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