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RUSSELL, John (1855-1937)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2179 RUSSELL
Held at: King Alfred School
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Full title: RUSSELL, John (1855-1937)
Date(s): 1876-1937
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator(s): RUSSELL | John (Jack) | 1855-1937


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Russell was born at Wyke, in 1855, the son of a bookkeeper. He was educated at St John's College Cambridge, 1878-1882. He graduated with a second class degree in Theology, and chose a career in teaching.

He was a master at Islington High School 1882-1883 where he taught modern languages - French and German, as well as various elementary subjects, athletics and cricket. He resigned in 1883 in order ostensibly to pursue studies in modern philology in Germany, but in fact to seek out alternative educational models on the Continent, such as those that Jules Ferry, Minister of Education in the Third French Republic, was introducing in France. This model included an emphasis on modern languages, and pedagogy based on the Pestalozzian principle of observation. These reforms had distinctly secular and political goals, and were to be a significant influence in Russell's subsequent teaching career.

Returning to England in 1886, he took up a post as assistant master at the University College School, located at this time in Gower St, London. In 1901 he was appointed the second headmaster of the King Alfred School, London to whom he was recommended by a former pupil at UCS. He was appointed followed the complete deterioration of the relationship between the King Alfred School Council and its first Headmaster. A popular and successful head, he oversaw the Schools acquisition of the property at number 22 Ellerdale Rd in 1906. He was also responsible for introducing to the school a Parliament of Pupils, 1904, and the introduction of examinations as a regular part of the curriculum, 1908. He retired from teaching in 1920.

Outside school life, Russell was Warden of the Passmore Edwards settlement in Bloomsbury [1895], an active member of the Teacher's Guild and an acknowledged expert on Pestalozzi. He translated Baron Roger de Guimp's Life and works of Pestalozzi [1886], and wrote articles on modern teaching techniques and for the Guild's Journal of Education.

He was married to Elizabeth (Bess) Collins, who died in 1923. In 1925, he married Estelle Basden, who was the sister was Violet Horton, wife of Dr Horton.


Scope and content/abstract:

Personal papers of John Russell comprising:

four volumes containing papers collected by Russell, including his printed articles, verse, photographs, letters, cuttings, certificates, testimonials, printed programmes, watercolours, play script arranged in Vol 1, [1877]-1901; Vol 2, 1901-1914; Vol 3, 1914-[1920] with appendix to Vol 2 1901-1914; and Vol 4 [1920-1936];

manuscript notebook containing extracts, sayings, verses, [1908-1915]; bundle of verses both printed and manuscript; uncut volume of A book of the verses of 'JR' printed by and for his friends, 1914; scrapbook containing cuttings of Russell's verses printed in various publications, 1890-1934; scrap book, [1876], containing poems, verse, miniature sketches, cartoons and watercolours; music manuscript scrap book containing music and words for songs;

volume of photocopied letters of John and Elizabeth Russell to Aneurin Williams MP (1859-1924) [1884-1921], (from the Williams Archive); photocopies of letters to John and Elizabeth Russell from James Ramsay Macdonald (1866-1937), 1925-1937 (8 letters); photocopies of letters to Dr and Mrs Horton from Ramsay Macdonald, 1917-1936 (1866-1937) (4 letters).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Proof of identity is required. Contact the Archivist in the first instance, King Alfred School, Manor Wood, North End Road, London NW11 7HY.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies available

Finding aids:

The material is uncatalogued

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The original material was donated by Eileen Basden. Photocopied material was donated by Barry Dackombe.

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; King Alfred School and the Progressive Movement, 1898-1998, Ron Brooks, University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1998. Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey 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:
August 2003

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