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LANSBURY, George, 1859-1940, Labour politician

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0097 LANSBURY
Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science
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Full title: LANSBURY, George, 1859-1940, Labour politician
Date(s): 1877-1940
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 30 volumes and four files
Name of creator(s): Lansbury, George, 1859-1940, Labour politician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Rt Hon George Lansbury, 1859-1940, left school at the age of fourteen and worked as a clerk, a wholesale grocer and in a coffee bar before starting his own business as a contractor for the Great Eastern Railway. In 1884 he emigrated to Australia with his wife and children, but did not find the experience satisfactory, returning home in 1885 to enter his father-in-law's timber merchant business. Lansbury was involved in politics from an early age, first as an active Radical and then as a Socialist. He became a borough councillor in Poplar in 1903 and Labour MP of Bow and Bromley in 1910. In 1912, he resigned to fight the seat as an Independent and a supporter of suffrage for women. He was re-elected in 1922 and held the position of leader of the Labour Party from 1931 to 1935. Lansbury was greatly interested in the causes and prevention of poverty and unemployment. He was a member of the Central Unemployed Body for London and also a member of the Royal Commission on Poor Law, where he signed the minority report. In 1929 he became the first Commissioner of Works and also established the first Poor Law Labour Colony and the first Labour Colony for the Unemployed (apart from the Poor Law and under public control) at Hollesley Bay. He was also a founder of the Daily Herald and its editor from 1919 to 1923.


Scope and content/abstract:

Lansbury's personal and political correspondence; correspondence between Lansbury's biographer, Raymond Postgate, and others after his death; correspondence and papers on subjects of interest to Lansbury, including schools, the Labour Party, unemployment, agriculture, India, the 1931 Cabinet Crisis, and the Metropolitan Police; photographs, personal and official, and caricatures from the press; press reviews of Lansbury's published works; printed matter, including articles, pamphlets, speeches and leaflets by or concerning Lansbury, election addresses, and personal ephemera. Volumes 1 - 26 consist of the personal and political correspondence and papers used by Lansbury's son-in-law, Raymond Postgate, in researching The Life of George Lansbury, published in 1951. These papers were presented to the British Library of Political and Economic Science by Professor Postgate in 1950. Volumes 27 - 30 were added to the collection some time later, and volume 31 consists of three files of personal correspondence which were added to the collection in 1994 and one file found in 1999.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

This collection has been arranged in 31 volumes:
SECTION I. The main body of George Lansbury's personal and political correspondence and papers in one chronological sequence, 1877 - 1940:
1. 1877-1900.
2. 1901-1906.
3. 1907-1909.
4. 1910-1911.
5. 1912, January - June.
6. 1912, June - December.
7. 1913-1917.
8. 1918-1928.
9. 1929-1930.
10. 1931-1932.
11. 1933, January - March.
12. 1933, March - September.
13. 1933, October - December.
14. 1933, December.
15. 1934-1935.
16. 1936-1938.
17. (ff. 1 - 274) 1939-1940.

SECTION II. Correspondence between Professor Postgate, Lansbury's son-in-law and biographer, and others after the death of George Lansbury, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, 1940-1950:
17. (ff. 275 - 377) 1940-1950.

SECTION III. Correspondence and papers grouped as found, under subject headings, 1913-1937:
18. a. i) Limit Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. 1913-1914, and ii) Victoria House Printing Co. Ltd., 1917.
19. b. Voluntary school problem, 1928-1931; c. Labour Party manifesto and programme, 1929.
19 - 20. d. Unemployment, 1929-1935.
20. e. Unemployment and migration, 1929-1930.
21. f. Claude Leigh papers: Metropolitan Housing Corporation Ltd, "Augusta Johnson Centre", 1929-1930; g. Honorary positions held by George Lansbury, 1929-1931; h. Unemployment and agriculture, 1929; i. Maplescombe Valley model village scheme, 1929-1931; j. Agricultural policy, 1930-1931.
22 - 24. k. India, 1930-1937.
25. n. George Lansbury: "Cabinet crisis of 1931", 1931; o. Means test, 1931-1935; p. Metropolitan police, 1933; q. National Hospitals for Dentures, 1935-1936.

SECTION IV. Photographs, c1889-1939:
26. Photographs and caricatures, c1889-1939.

SECTION V. Press reviews, 1928-1938:
27. Press reviews of Lansbury's published works, 1928-1938.

SECTION VI. Additional, 1880-1940:
28. Additions to sections I and II, 1880-1940.
29. Additions to section III concerning the poor and unemployed, c1904-1911; unemployment and pensions, 1929; India, 1932; and the Cabinet crisis of 1931, 1930-1931.
30. Printed matter, including articles, pamphlets, speeches and leaflets by or concerning Lansbury, 1892-1938; election addresses, 1894-1935; periodicals, 1906-1914; Christmas cards, 1909-1930; and material relating to memorial services, 1933-1940.
31. Reports on the Poor Law and Ireland, 1908-1909, and additional personal correspondence, 1920-1924.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:


Finding aids:

Printed handlist available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on March 27, 2002

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
27 Mar 2002; revised 8 May 2002

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