Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)JC
TitleJoseph Chamberlain Collection
Extent196 boxes
Date1819-[late 20th century]
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DescriptionOfficial and personal papers of the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914); the official papers comprise material relating to Joseph Chamberlain's involvement in the family screw-making business in Birmingham [Nettlefold and Chamberlain], his activity in Birmingham municipal affairs [his Councillorship for St Paul's Ward, and his mayoralty], his election to Parliament for West Birmingham, and his service in public office as President of the Board of Trade, 1880-1885, President of the Local Government Board, 1886, Chairman of the Washington Fishery Conference, 1887-1888, and Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1895-1903; these papers include material relating to current domestic political matters and foreign affairs [the Russian/Turkish War, Irish Home Rule, the Liberal Party and the Liberal Unionist Alliance, General Elections of 1874-1906, the Boer War, and the campaign for tariff reform]; the personal papers include correspondence between Joseph Chamberlain and his third wife Mary [nee Endicott, later Carnegie] and various personal associates, papers relating to his three marriages [including deeds and other documents relating to the settlement on the marriage of Joseph Chamberlain and Florence Kenrick], his teaching records from the Church of the Messiah and Birmingham Heath and Smethwick Working Men's Club [1863-1865], personal notebooks, and papers relating to his seventieth birthday celebrations, and his death [will, deeds and other documents relating to the settlement of the estate of Joseph Chamberlain, and press cuttings relating to his funeral]; the collection also includes the correspondence of Mary Chamberlain [nee Endicott, later Carnegie, third wife of Joseph Chamberlain], most especially correspondence from Joseph Chamberlain, dating from the announcement of their engagement until the final months before his death [1888-1914]; in addition there is material relating to the composition of the biography of Joseph Chamberlain; this includes the correspondence of Austen Chamberlain [son of Joseph Chamberlain] and James Louis Garvin [biographer of Joseph Chamberlain] relating to the early period of the book's development, preparatory notes, transcripts of correspondence between Joseph Chamberlain and political, family and personal associates, and material acquired for the purposes of research [this includes the papers of E. A. Sonnenshein relating to the history of Birmingham University, 1900-1950]
ArrangementThere are two alternative systems of arrangement for the Joseph Chamberlain papers, though the contents of the collection remains the same across both systems

One follows the system established by Joseph Chamberlain's biographers, James Louis Garvin and Julian Amery, who used the papers before they were deposited with the University of Birmingham. This arrangement divides the papers into sections [JC1-JC27]. Additional deposits of papers from the family [JC28] and from the estate of Lord Amery [JC29-JC37] were added later

This arrangement is as follows:

JC1 Papers on Joseph Chamberlain's youth and early family life
JC2 Board of Trade papers: 1880-1885
JC3 Washington Fisheries Conference: 1887-1888
JC4 Presscuttings: pre 1898; Memorial notices: 1914
JC5 General correspondence, A-Z: pre-1899
JC6 Domestic politics
JC7 Foreign affairs: pre 1899
JC8/1-2 Diaries and materials relating to the 'Life of Joseph Chamberlain' by Garvin and Amery
JC8/3-10 Irish politics: correspondence and papers
JC9 Imperial affairs
JC10 South African War: antecedents and first year
JC11 General correspondence, A-Z: 1900-1902
JC12 Birmingham University correspondence; other miscellaneous matters
JC13 South Africa: 1900-1902
JC14 Colonial affairs (other than South Africa): 1900-1902
JC15 Canada: photocopies of papers in the Canadian National Archives
JC16 Miscellaneous notebooks; correspondence with Sir M. Hicks Beach; copies of correspondence with Queen Victoria and King Edward VII
JC17 Colonial correspondence: 1901-1902
JC18/1-10 Colonial and foreign correspondence and documents: 1903
JC18/11-15 South Africa documents: 1903
JC18/16-20 Domestic politics: 1903
JC19 Colonial papers and miscellaneous correspondence: 1904
JC20 Colonial papers and miscellaneous correspondence: 1905
JC21 Miscellaneous correspondence: 1906
JC22 Miscellaneous correspondence: 1907-1914
JC23 Presscuttings, 1913-1914; copies and extracts of Mary Chamberlain's papers; papers relating to Joseph Chamberlain's death; miscellaneous printed articles about Joseph Chamberlain
JC24 Centenary of Joseph Chamberlain's birth; materials relating to Garvin's Life of Joseph Chamberlain'
JC25 Printed items relating to individuals associated with Joseph ChamberlainJC26 Early letters
JC27 Photocopies of materials in the University of Texas Library relating to Garvin and the Chamberlain family
JC28A Correspondence from Joseph Chamberlain to Mary Chamberlain
JC28B Correspondence from Mary Chamberlain to Joseph Chamberlain
JC29 Colonial Office papers and correspondence
JC30 Political correspondence
JC31 Political notebooks
JC32 Personal material of and relating to Joseph Chamberlain
JC33 Official printed materials
JC34 Presscuttings, scrap albums, political cartoons and photographs
JC35 Birmingham University
JC36 Miscellaneous printed materials
JC37 Papers of J. L. Garvin

The other system of arrangement is based on electronic cataloguing of the papers in 1998. This incorporates the different deposits into a single, multi-level descriptive catalogue with a new structure which brings together Joseph Chamberlain's official papers, his personal papers, the papers of his third wife, Mary Endicott Chamberlain, papers of his son, Austen, which are in this collection, and other associated papers relating, for example, to his biography.

This arrangement is as follows:

JC1 Joseph Chamberlain official papers
JC1/1 Correspondence and papers
JC1/2 Diaries and journals
JC1/3 Notebooks
JC1/4 Official publications
JC1/5 Press cuttings
JC1/6 Printed material
JC1/7 Miscellanea

JC2 Joseph Chamberlain personal papers
JC2/1 Correspondence
JC2/2 Diaries
JC2/3 Notebooks
JC2/4 Press cuttings
JC2/5 Printed material
JC2/6 Photographs
JC2/7 Miscellanea

JC3 Mary Chamberlain papers
JC3/1 Correspondence
JC3/2 Miscellanea

JC4 Austen Chamberlain papers
JC4/1 Correspondence

JC5 Associated papers
JC5/1 Papers relating to the biography of Joseph Chamberlain
JC5/2 Correspondence of associated individuals
JC5/3 Photocopies of related papers
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department. The superseded typescript handlist, with revisions up to 1984, can also still be consulted in the reading room. In addition, copies of the brief 'Guide to the Chamberlain Collection', which was published by University of Birmingham Library in 1978 to acknowledge the generosity of the Chamberlain family, are available on request.
Access StatusOpen
Physical Descriptionapprox 24,364 items, comprising approx 665 files and vols, stored in approx 196 boxes and fascicules. Approx. 21.87 linear metres
Administrative HistoryJoseph Chamberlain was born in 1836; he was educated at University College School, and at the age of sixteen moved from London to Birmingham to join his uncle's screw manufacturing business, Nettlefold and Chamberlain; he became a member of the Birmingham Education Society, the National Education League, and was chairman of the Birmingham School Board [1868-1873]; he was a member of Birmingham Town Council [1872-1880], being Councillor for St Paul's Ward and Mayor [1873-1876]; he was MP for West Birmingham [1876-1914]; President of the Board of Trade [1880-1885]; President of the Local Government Board [1886]; Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1895-1903]; Chancellor of the University of Birmingham [1901-1914]; and Lord Rector of Glasgow University; he died on 2nd July 1914.
Custodial HistoryA formal agreement relating to the gift of the papers of Joseph Chamberlain and his son, Austen Chamberlain to the University of Birmingham was drawn up with the Chamberlain Family and Chamberlain Trustees in 1959. Both collections were presented to the University of Birmingham at a public ceremony on 18 October 1960, chaired by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Sir Robert Aitken.

In 1968 additional papers of Joseph Chamberlain which had been loaned by the family to Lord Amery [Julian Amery, 1st Baron Amery of Lustleigh: biographer of Joseph Chamberlain] in order to complete the biography were passed to the University Library and these were added to the Joseph Chamberlain Collection.

Subsequent gifts of papers from the family have also been added to the Joseph Chamberlain Collection. These gifts include the correspondence between Joseph Chamberlain and his third wife, Mary Endicott Chamberlain which were presented in 1980 by Colonel and Mrs A. T. Maxwell [JC28]. More papers of Joseph Chamberlain were also found by the executors of Lord Amery in 1997 and these too were passed on to the University Library and incorporated into the collection [JC29-JC37].
OriginalsThe collection contains photocopies of original items from the Laurier Papers, the Aberdeen Papers, the Denison Papers, the R. W. Scott Papers, the Galt Papers and the Tupper Papers, all held in the Canadian National Archives, and photocopies of items held in the University of Texas Library, Austin, USA
CopiesMost of the collection has been micropublished by Primary Source Media in six separate units on a total of 137 microfilm reels and some, or all, of these units have been purchased by other research libraries in this country and elsewhere. Facilities are available in Cadbury Research Library for researchers to make paper copies of individual items from these microfilms for their own private research purposes. Alternatively, digitized copies of the microfilms can be viewed online under 'Archives Unbound' at Members of the University of Birmingham may access the digital copies free of charge at

Additional microfiche copies of material relating to the Jameson Raid, 1895-1897; and South Africa, 1893-1899; are also available.
Related MaterialThe Special Collections Department holds a number of related collections:

Austen Chamberlain Collection [AC];

Neville Chamberlain Collection [NC];

Beatrice, Ida, Hilda and Ethel Chamberlain Collection [BC] (full catalogue is not yet available on the Online Archive Catalogue);

Chamberlain Family Collection [C];

Artificial collections of letters and other documents of Joseph, Austen and Neville Chamberlain [JCLAdd, ACLAdd, NCLAdd] (some catalogue records are available on the Online Archive Catalogue)

Also note that there is material relating to Joseph Chamberlain in the University Archive including an archival audio tape of an extract of a speech.
Publication NoteThe official biography of Joseph Chamberlain, which was commissioned by the family, was begun by James Louis Garvin and completed by Julian Amery. It draws very heavily on the papers in this collection and was published in six volumes under the title, 'Life of Joseph Chamberlain' (London: Macmillan and Co, 1932-1969). There have been several other biographies published but the most recent is 'Joseph Chamberlain. Entrepreneur in Politics' by Peter T. Marsh (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994)


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