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Seton-Watson (Professor Robert William) Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0369 SEW
Held at: School of Slavonic and East European Studies
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Full title: Seton-Watson (Professor Robert William) Collection
Date(s): 1905-1951
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 117 boxes, 44 volumes, 1 envelope
Name of creator(s): Watson | Robert William Seton- | 1879-1951 | historian
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Robert William Seton-Watson (1879-1951) arrived at Vienna University in 1905. It was the beginning of a life-long interest in the history and politics of Central and South East Europe, much of which was then unified under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Seton-Watson travelled widely in Austria-Hungary prior to World War One and published a number of books on the national conflicts that existed within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the war, recognised as an expert on the area, and with many personal contacts, he was able to exercise influence as a member of the Intelligence Bureau of the War Cabinet (1917) and the Enemy Propaganda Department (1918) where he was largely responsible for the British propaganda that was disseminated to the Austro-Hungarian people. Seton-Watson also published a weekly periodical "The New Europe" (1916-1920) which was prominent in informing a wider public of the situation in the region. He travelled widely in the immediate aftermath of the war, attending the Paris Peace Conference and visiting the new states that had been created as a result of the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After the First World War Seton-Watson played a lesser role in influencing policy and his academic committments grew. He played a prominent role in establishing a School of Slavonic Studies at Kings College London in 1915 (later SSEES). Seton-Watson was appointed the first holder of the Masaryk chair in Central European history in 1922, a post he held until 1945. During this time he founded and edited "The Slavonic Review" with Sir Bernard Pares. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Seton-Watson once again held posts in Government service, at the Foreign Research and Press Service (1939-1940) and Political Intelligence Bureau of the Foreign Office (1940-1942). However in contrast to his work during the First World War, he was unable to influence policy partly because he did not have access to decision makers and also because he was not allowed to publish his writings. In 1945 he was appointed to the new chair of Czechoslovak Studies at Oxford University, a post he held until his retirement in 1949. He had three children with his wife, May Stack. His sons Hugh (George Hugh Nicholas) and Christopher also became historians.


Scope and content/abstract:

Correspondence and papers of Robert William Seton-Watson, comprising:
Pre World War One papers, 1905-1914, including articles and correspondence relating to aspects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, press cuttings and book reviews; correspondence on the formation, publication and content of "The New Europe", with papers and minutes of meetings for "The New Europe Society", 1913-1920; World War One papers, 1914-1918, including correspondence, memoranda, reports and articles, Seton-Watson's reports for the Intelligence Bureau on Austria-Hungary; reports and memos written for the Intelligence Bureau and the Department of Enemy Propaganda; papers on Serbia and the future Yugoslavia, 1912-1919; papers on Bohemia and the other regions that united as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Ukraine; press cuttings re Romania, 1913-1928 (mainly 1914-1918); papers on Seton-Watson's work as Secretary of the Serbian Relief Fund, 1914-1921, including minute books, correspondence, diaries, ledgers, photographs and lantern slides; papers on Yugoslavia, 1919-1941, including correspondence and papers on issues of both Yugoslavia's international relations and internal politics; correspondence and documents on "The Yugoslav Society of Great Britain", press cuttings on Seton-Watson's "Sarajevo" and on Yugoslavia generally and addresses presented to RWSW by Yugloslavian organisations; papers on inter-war Czechoslovakia, 1919-1939; papers on Hungary, Romania, Carpatho-Ruthenes, Ukraine, Poland and Austria in the inter-war years, 1919-1939; papers on World War Two, 1939-1945, including papers and correspondence re RWSW's work for the Foreign and Research Press Service and the Political Intelligence Department, including political intelligence summaries; papers on Seton-Watson's work for the Tribunal for internees opposed to the Nazi system, papers by Seton-Watson and others and others on Balkan and Danubian territories; papers on Czechoslovakia during World War Two, 1939-1945, including papers and intelligence summaries produced by Seton-Watson for Chatham House and the Political Intelligence Department, correspondence and papers on Czechoslovak affairs; papers and correspondence on Hungarian and Romanian affairs in World War Two, 1938-1945; papers and correspondence on Yugoslav affairs in the Second World War, 1939-1947, including both Seton-Watson's Government work and his private involvement with British-Yugoslav organisations; general correspondence files, 1901-1951; correpondence and papers academic matters including the School of Slavonic Studies, Kings College London, and its successor, SSEES, the "Slavonic Review", and the Royal Historical Society, 1911-1949; correspondence with publishers including agreements and statements of royalties and correspondence re publications, letters to newspapers, other correspondence and reviews, 1906-1951; assorted typescripts, articles, lecture notes, notes and newscuttings on a variety of subjects, mainly Austria-Hungary, the "Eastern question" and Yugoslavia, 1905-1951; ephenera; press cuttings, bibliographies and a guide to Seton-Watson's papers held at New College Oxford

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Mainly English, but also Czech, Slovak, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Romanian, Polish and Serbo-Croat

System of arrangement:

Papers divided into 23 classes as described in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Access on authority of Christopher Seton-Watson, or if he is not available, the Librarian, access to list of New College material unrestricted. Researchers wishing to consult the archives or seeking further information should contact UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) Library, 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW.

Conditions governing reproduction:

See Conditions governing access.

Finding aids:

Online catalogue available on the UCL Archives website.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

SSEES Library also hold the papers of Seton-Waton's son, George Hugh Nicholas Seton-Watson (Ref SET).

New College Oxford also holds Seton-Watson papers.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Revised by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), 2nd edition 2000 and National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997

Date(s) of descriptions:
Revised Jan 2003

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