Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Preserving public access to over 4,500 boxes of papers relating to Lord Palmerston and Mountbatten: the Broadlands Archives campaign

by Kathryn Hadley

At the end of last week, the University of Southampton launched a campaign to raise the necessary funds to preserve public access in the UK to hundreds of thousands of papers and photographs relating to Lord Mountbatten and Lord Palmerston. The Broadlands Archives have been on loan to the University’s Hartley Library since 1989, where they were transferred from the home of Lord Romsey. They were inherited by Lord Romsey, Mountbatten's grandson, on Mountbatten's assassination by the IRA off the Irish coast on August 27th, 1979. The University now needs to raise 2.85 million to acquire the Broadlands Archives.

The archives are stored in more than 4,500 boxes and include documents which chart the major political, social, diplomatic and economic events of the 19th and 20th centuries. They include 1,200 letters dealing with foreign affairs and general government business from the Queen to Lord Palmerston (1784-1865), who served as Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Prime Minister during Queen Victoria’s reign.

There are also 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs which chart the career of Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979). In particular, they cover his time as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (SACSEA) from 1943 to 1946, and as the last Viceroy of India in 1947 and 1948 and the first Governor-General of the newly independent Union of India. Correspondence from this time includes letters from Gandhi and there are also papers and photographs of Mountbatten’s wife Edwina, Countess Mountbatten.

Lastly, the Broadlands Archives include the diaries of the politician and philanthropist Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801-1885), the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. Known as the ‘poor man’s earl’, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury notably fought for the protection of child chimney sweeps and shorter working hours for children and women in factories, and his papers provide an insight into social progress in Victorian England.

In Safe Harbour for Mountbatten Archive Sydney Reynolds reports on the initial transfer of the Broadlands Archives to the Hartley Library in April 1989.

In 1991 we republished a vintage article by AJP Taylor entitled Lord Palmerston and written in July 1951 about the 60 year long career of Lord Palmerston.
Also, for further information on the Indian partition and the role of Lord Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India, read our article Mountbatten and the Transfer of Power.

Lord and Lady Mounbatten with Gandhi on the terrace of the Viceroy's House in New Delhi, 1947 (courtesy of The Trustees of the Broadlands Archives)


Jackie said...

The articles says the sale is intended "raise the necessary funds to preserve public access." Is the university not already preserving the materials? How would dispersing the collection at auction help preserve them?

Lou Greeves said...

I'm working with the University to help them raise funds for this campaign. They've just launched an online donation area on their website for anyone kind to help them secure the Archives, which can be found here: http://www.soton.ac.uk/supportus/broadlands/support.shtml

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