From the archives – G.D.H. Cole and Nuffield College Library


G.D.H. Cole at work


G.D.H. Cole was born on 25 September 1889 and died on 14 January 1959. He married Margaret Postgate in August 1918. Cole came to prominence in the years shortly before the First World War. Along with S.G. Hobson and A.P. Orage, he was a leading theorist of that form of industrial democracy known as guild socialism and was subsequently prominent in the short-lived guild socialism movement. For the next half century, he was active as an influential academic, leading Fabian, and guiding light of several left-wing groups. Above all, he was a political thinker, whose work in the last decade of his life was described by Richard Crossman as “still the most creative … in the Labour movement”.

[From the preface to the Handlist of the Papers of G.D.H. Cole in Nuffield College Library]

At the meeting of Nuffield College’s Warden & Fellows on the 1st of May 1948, then Warden, Sir Henry Clay brought forward the proposal to purchase Cole’s personal library which consisted of 25,000-30,000 volumes.

Meeting of Warden & Fellows

Meeting of Warden & Fellows 1st of May 1948

The collection was valued at £6,270 by George Wheeler of George Harding’s Bookshop, he also had the following to say:

“…the retention of the library as a whole is a thing to be very strongly advocated. It is, as far as I know, the most complete library of it’s [sic] kind in private hands in the country; being especially rich in source material on the development of the republican, radical, Chartist, socialistic and kindred movements from 1790 to the present time”

George Wheeler's valuation of G.D.H. Cole's library, broken down by subject [click to enlarge]

George Wheeler’s valuation of G.D.H. Cole’s library [click on image to enlarge]

Clay wrote to Cole on the 28th of March to say:

“Your library, if we acquire it, will in my opinion do far more to establish a college devoted to Social Studies than several times the amount of building we are inaugurating on April 21st.”

Read the full letter below:

Sir Henry Clay to G.D.H. Cole [click on image to enlarge]

Sir Henry Clay to G.D.H. Cole [click on image to enlarge]

The letter mentions the conditions that Cole placed upon the sale. He formally laid these out in a letter of the 4th of April 1949:

Cole's conditions of sale [click to read the letter]

Cole’s conditions of sale [click to read the letter]

(Regarding point 1. d) Nuffield College Library did eventually receive much of Cole’s manuscript material and letters as well as those of his wife, Margaret)

The College was able to raise the sum of £2,980 (almost half the total cost) from donors to help purchase Cole’s books:

List of donors [click image to enlarge]

List of donors [click to enlarge]

The purchase of Cole’s library was a great coup for Nuffield College, on the 30th of June 1949 Clay wrote to Cole to say that the collection will form…

“…the foundation of the best library in its field in the country …I think this acquisition which you have made possible has given me more satisfaction than anything else since I became Warden.”

Clay to Cole 30th June 1949

Clay to Cole 30th June 1949 [click on image to enlarge]

All material from College papers, kept in the Librarian’s Office and available to see on request.

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Easter 2014 vacation opening hours

Easter eggs

Nuffield College Library will be closed over Easter as follows:

Thursday 2nd April – Tuesday 7th April*

*College members will have usual access during this time.

“Easter-Eggs-1” by Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –
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National Libraries Day 2015: Richard Johnson’s thoughts on Nuffield College Library

Our final blog post for National Libraries Day is written by politics student Richard Johnson, in which he describes what he likes about Nuffield College Library and explains the reason for his book nomination:

I feel very lucky to have access to the Nuffield Library. It has a fabulous and unparalleled collection of politics books and journals. I can usually find what I need, and if the Library doesn’t have a book, they will order it for me. Amazing! The staff are always very helpful and will go at great lengths to find answers to my occasionally obscure questions. A researcher couldn’t ask for a better library.

Race, campaign politics & the realignment in the South book coverRace, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South by James Glaser (shelf mark JK 2261.G)

Race, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South is a brilliant example of in-depth qualitative political science research. James Glaser spends several years in the field studying congressional by-elections in the southern US. He conducts numerous interviews with election participants – from candidates and advisors to party officials and activists to trade union officials and clergy.

Glaser explains the unusual perseverance of congressional Democrats in the South, long after the national realignment of US party politics. He demonstrates that the party continued to win elections in the South due to a precarious coalition of newly enfranchised African Americans and a (diminishing) group of whites who were tribally loyal to the Democratic Party. Glaser’s detailed work captures that nuances of campaign rhetoric, showing that Democratic candidates could successfully deliver different messages to black and white communities.

Glaser admits that his subjects were ‘moving targets’ and much has changed since he conducted his research twenty years ago. The 2014 congressional elections saw the defeat of the last remaining white Democrats in the Deep South, but this does not detract from the enduring value of Glaser’s work as an historical study.

For political scientists, Glaser’s work highlights the limitations of relying merely on public opinion data and election returns. Local organisation, the experience and personality of political actors, campaign discourse, and symbolic imagery can all be important in influencing an election outcome. Glaser makes an admirable attempt to take these factors seriously.

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National Libraries Day 2015: Jerome Simons’s thoughts on Nuffield College Library

National Libraries Day

Economics student, Jerome Simons, tells us what it is that he likes about Nuffield College Library in our third post for National Libraries Day:

I like the fact that Nuffield’s library is staffed by book aficionados. I cannot think of any other institution that would have preferred an older, used, high-quality bound copy to a new cheap repro one and contacting vintage booksellers about it.

Book nominations:
Aspects of multivariate statistical theory book coverAspects of multivariate statistical theory by Robb J. Muirhead (shelf mark QA 278.M).

Economics of the family book coverEconomics of the family by Martin Browning, Pierre-André Chiappori and Yoram Weiss (shelf mark HQ 519.B).

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National Libraries Day 2015: Lindsay Richards’s thoughts on Nuffield College Library

National Libraries Day

Today, College Research Officer Lindsay Richards explains why she enjoys using Nuffield College Library in our fourth post for National Libraries Day:

One of my favourite things about Nuffield life is the college library. It always has the book I am searching for (which is no mean feat), there’s always a quiet spot to get some work done and a comfy chair in which to read the paper. And, as a newcomer, it was a delight to discover a little space dedicated to Oxford with guide books and Morse DVDs – it felt really very welcoming!

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Jane Bown 1925-2014

Jane Bown was best known for her work as a portrait photographer for the Observer. Her signature style was black and white, using natural light to striking effect.

In 1992, Nuffield College commissioned her to take portraits of all its Fellows – these can be seen in the library tower and in the basement. The subject interests of the Fellows are matched with the subjects of the books on each floor so that sociologists can be found on the 4th floor, political scientists on the 5th & 6th floors and economists in the basement. Many of these Fellows are still at Nuffield.

There is a temporary exhibition of alternative portraits in the Current Affairs Room (1st floor of the Library) capturing our Fellows in more candid moments.

Jane Bown display in the Current Affairs Room

The Library has recently purchased a copy of “Exposures: Jane Bown”, a volume of some of her (non-Nuffield) work, see the book on SOLO.

It can be found in the Art Collection in the Current Affairs Room at the shelfmark Art.Bown.

Further reading:

Guardian obituary

A life in photography

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