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British Library of Political and Economic Science

Selection Trust Archives


Reference code(s): GB 0097 SELECTION TRUST

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: Selection Trust Archives

Date(s): [1906-1980]

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 315 boxes, 2 volumes and 5 index boxes

Name of creator(s): Beatty | Sir | Alfred Chester | 1875-1968 | Knight | mining engineer Selection Trust Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir (Alfred) Chester Beatty was an American mining engineer, who founded Selection Trust Ltd in 1913. This remained a small company until after World War One, when Beatty embarked on the development, finance and administration of mining businesses throughout the world, notably in Siberia, the west coast of Africa, Serbia and Northern Rhodesia. Beatty built an expert team of geologists and mining engineers whom he sent abroad with specific instructions on the areas to explore: he never travelled to these places himself. Though many of these mining enterprises were later nationalised, Selection Trust had by then acquired valuable interests in other mines around the world. Beatty retired in 1950, and handed over control of Selection Trust to his son, Alfred Chester Beatty, who retired in 1968, the same year as his father's death. Beatty Senior was also well known for his philanthropic interests in cancer research, and his fascination with collecting oriental manuscripts and impresionist art. The Selection Trust Ltd was taken over by BP, and was known as, successively, BP Minerals International Ltd and BP Minerals Development Ltd. It was acquired from BP by the Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation Plc in 1989.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Sir (Alfred) Chester Beatty and the Selection Trust, [1906-1980], comprising extensive information on mining for base metals, diamonds and oil, in countries including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Burma, Australia, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania, Northern Rhodesia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, French Guinea, Botswana, Hungary, Russia, Yugoslavia, the USSR and the North Sea; papers relating to the central administration and history of the Selection Trust, notably photographs, notebooks and printed materials; personal material concerning Sir (Alfred) Chester Beatty and his son, Alfred Chester Beatty.


Language/scripts of material: [English]

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Apply to Archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is retained by the depositors. Some documents may be photocopied.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Summary boxlist available on paper and the on-line database.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Deposited by BP Minerals in 1985. Further material was bequeathed by C A Kidd in 1992. Also known as the Chester Beatty Archives.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The British Library of Political and Economic Science also holds material relating to the Selection Trust in the papers Audrey Isabel Richards (Ref: Richards 19/1), the International African Institute (Ref: IAI 41/32) and Hetherington (Ref: Hetherington 9/9).

The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, holds papers relating to its establishment; Nuffield College Library, Oxford University, holds correspondence with Frederick Alexander Lindeman Cherwell, 1st Viscount Cherwell of Oxford, 1940-1941 (Ref: Cherwell Papers); the Griffith Institute, Oxford University, has Chester Beatty's Egyptological notebooks (Ref: AHG/23/41-42); Trinity College, Dublin, contains letters to Thomas Mc Greevy, 1950-1965 (Ref: Mss 7985-8190).

Publication note:

Dr Peter Greenhalgh West African Diamonds, 1919-83: an economic history (Manchester University Press, 1985).



Archivist's note: Sources: Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97; Historical Manuscripts Commission National Register of Archives. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Apr 2001

Mineral resources | Natural resources

Personal names
Beatty | Alfred Chester | 1907-1983 | mining engineer
Beatty | Sir | Alfred Chester | 1875-1968 | Knight | mining engineer

Corporate names
Selection Trust Ltd | mineral mining company

Angola | Southern Africa
Australia | Oceania
Botswana | Southern Africa
Brazil | South America
Canada | North America
Chile | South America
Guatemala | Central America
Guinea | West Africa | Africa
Hungary | Eastern Europe
Myanmar | South East Asia
Nicaragua | Central America
Peru | South America
Sierra Leone | West Africa | Africa
Tanzania UR | East Africa
USSR | Eastern Europe
Yugoslavia | Eastern Europe
Zambia | Southern Africa
Gold Coast x Ghana
Northern Rhodesia x Zambia
Soviet Union x USSR
Asia and the Pacific
North Sea