Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS864
TitleConzen Collection
DescriptionThe Conzen Collection is the professional collection of Professor M. R. G. Conzen (Berlin, 21 January 1907 - Newcastle upon Tyne, 4 February 2000), a Geographer and founder of the Anglo-German school of Urban Morphology. Urban Morphology is the study of the form of human settlements and the process of their formation and transformation. The study seeks to understand the spatial structure and character of a metropolitan area, city, town or village by examining the patterns of its component parts and the process of its development. This can involve the analysis of physical structures at different scales as well as patterns of movement, land use, ownership or control and occupation. Typically, analysis of physical form focuses on street pattern, lot (or, in the UK, plot) pattern and building pattern, sometimes referred to collectively as urban grain. Analysis of specific settlements is usually undertaken using cartographic sources and the process of development is deduced from comparison of historic maps.

Special attention is given to how the physical form of a city changes over time and to how different cities compare to each other. Another significant part of this subfield deals with the study of the social forms which are expressed in the physical layout of a city, and, conversely, how physical form produces or reproduces various social forms.

Professor Conzen's collection represents his academic work from his early years as a student studying Town Planning through to the culmination of his academic career. The Conzen Collection, which is provisionally listed in the attached pdf file, contains professional correspondence, lecture materials, publications by Conzen, his students and other colleagues. It contains research material including handwritten annotations, and notes together with annotated plans and maps. The collection is particularly strong in his principal research areas - detailed morphological studies of the English market towns of Alnwick, Whitby, Newcastle, and Ludlow. Conzen was particularly noted for the development of the micro-scale study of the evolution of plots. The collection also includes a significant amount of material relating to Japanese Urban Morphology including publications relating to Japanese castle towns.

Professor Conzen collected a large quantity of town and city guides relating to the UK, Europe and North America, he also collected postcards and photographs of those areas of interest to his research and this material, which date back to the 1930's, is particularly interesting in showing pre-World War Two Europe and other areas which have substantially changed and developed since the photograph or postcard was produced. The collection also includes a significant quantity of books, those which are considered to be appropriate have been included in the section of the collection within the Cadbury Research Library, more recent publications have been placed with Library Services at the University of Birmingham. A substantial quantity of maps and plans, separate from those contained in the Conzen Collection at the Cadbury Research Library, have been retained by the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at University of Birmingham.where they form part of the Map Library. Enquiries relating to this material should be addressed to Library Services and the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham respectively.
ArrangementThe collection has been sorted and provisionally organised into a number of sections so as to allow access and retrieval. The numbers assigned to the materials together with the accompanying descriptions, should be regarded as a temporary measure. A preliminary hand list for the collection is attached as a PDF. This is a preliminary hand list which will be amended and updated over time.

Professor Conzen appears to have originally filed everything into box files which were kept as sequences. These sequences are listed in the preliminary hand list as Section 1 with each entry being an individual box file and all box files listed with a running number. Sequences are arranged according to the number placed on the box file presumably by Conzen where this is obvious. The number on a sticker on the spine of the box has been used in preference to any pencil numbers. Where a number is not obvious the box folder has been fitted into the relevant sequence as appears to be appropriate.
There is also a large quantity of unsorted material which did not arrive as part of the sequences shown in Section 1. A large majority of the material in Section 2 - Unprocessed Archive Boxes was obviously intended to be slotted into the sequences in Section 1 at some future date but this did not happen. It is unclear how much of this material was collected by Conzen and how much was collected subsequent to the collections deposit with the Geography Department at the University of Birmingham. Over time following initial box listing the material in Section 2 will be slotted into Section 1 where this is obviously in line with Conzen's original sequence structure.
Access ConditionsThe vast majority of this collection is open to all registered researchers. Some files contain information relating to living individuals eg PhD assessments. Access and use of this information is covered by our 'Access to Archives and Manuscripts' declaration in order to comply with Data Protection regulations. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

As this remains an unprocessed collection, material may still have to be double-checked by staff prior to issue to readers (this note added 12 October 2016) and advance notcie of at least 10 days should be given by anyone wishing to consult the collection.
Finding AidsA temporary handlist is available as a pdf file. Click on the link in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Special Collections Department. Entries in bold denote larger size boxes which are stored flat slightly out of sequence to the main run of boxes.
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Creator NameMichael Robert Gunter Conzen (Berlin, 21 January 1907 – Newcastle upon Tyne, 4 February 2000)
Administrative HistoryProfessor M.R.G. Conzen, F.R.G.S., A.M.R.T.P.I. (Berlin, 21 January 1907 - Newcastle upon Tyne, 4 February 2000) was a geographer, and founder of the Anglo-German school of urban morphology. Conzen's most influential work is a detailed morphological study of the English market town of Alnwick. His work is noted among others for the micro-scale study of the evolution of plots.

Conzen was born on the 21st January 1907 in Berlin, Germany. From 1912 until 1926 he undertook primary and secondary education in Berlin before progressing to the University of Berlin in 1926 to study Geography, History and Philosophy, completing his studies in 1932. His academic teachers in Geography at the University of Berlin were Albrecht Penck, Norbert Krebs, Carl Troll, Herbert Louis, Alfred Rühl, Wolfgang Panzer, and Walther Vogel who can be seen to have influenced his later work in various ways. In 1933 Conzen emigrated to the United Kingdom and between 1934 and 1936 he proceeded to study Town and Country Planning at the Victoria University of Manchester where his tutors included Prof. R. A. Cordingley. He gained a Diploma in Town & Country Planning, (with distinction) in June 1936 with a thesis titled "Town Planning in Nantwich, Cheshire". Following this he them undertook Postgraduate research in Historical Geography from 1937 to 1942 at the Victoria University of Manchester where his supervisor was Prof. Herbert J. Fleure. In 1942, July he gained an M. A., Victoria University of Manchester (by dissertation) with a dissertation titled "The Early Historical Geography of Chester". In July 1963he was awarded a Dr. Phil. From the University of Giessen, West Germany (magna cum laude) with a thesis titled "Alnwick: A Study in Town Plan Analysis".

Between 1936-1940 he was employed as Senior Assistant to W. Dobson Chapman, Consultant in Regional and Town Planning, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK. In 1940 he gained the position of Assistant Lecturer in Geography at the University of Manchester where he remained until 1946 when he moved to take up the post of Lecturer in Geography, University of Durham (King's College, Newcastle upon Tyne). In 1956 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Geography. In 1961 he moved to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to take up the position of Reader in Human Geography being promoted to Professor in 1965 and finally becoming Professor Emeritus at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1972.

Throughout his academic career he pursued research interests in the areas of urban geography, historical geography, applied geography, Other aspects of human geography, Regional geography of the British Isles, Scandinavia and Denmark, Germany, Low Countries, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Southeast and East Asia. He was particularly interested in the philosophical and methodological aspects of Geography.

During his academic career he held the following visiting appointments;

1948, July Lecturer at the Universities of Münster and Bonn, under the Foreign Office (German Section) Scheme
1948, August Lecturer at the Universities of Bergen and Oslo, Norway
1955, Mar-Apr Lecturer to the Geographical Societies of Hanover, Cologne, Bonn, Erlangen, and Munich, West Germany
1962, June-July Guest Professor, University of Kiel, West Germany
1963, July Guest Professor, University of Giessen, West Germany
1966, Winter Visiting Professor, University of Cambridge, England
1968, Mar-Oct Visiting Professor, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
1971, Summer Distinguished Visiting Professor, tour of major universities in Japan (by invitation of the Japanese Government, via the British Foreign Office)

He held professional membership of the following organisations;

1935-2000 Member of the Geographical Association
1937-2000 Associate Member of the Town Planning Institute (later Royal Town Planning Institute), A.M.T.P.I. (M.R.T.P.I.)
1946-2000 Member of the Institute of British Geographers (later Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society)
1997-2000 Member, International Seminar on Urban Form (I.S.U.F.)

Throughout his career Professor Conzen attended a large number of conferences ans symposiums, many of which are convered in his collection. He is known to have attended, and presented at where indicated, the following;

Participant, Town Planning Institute Summer Schools, Manchester 1937 and Exeter 1938.
Participant, International Congress for Housing and Town Planning, Stockholm 1939.
Participant, Garden Cities and Town Planning Association Conference, Oxford, 1941.
Presented paper, Le Play Society Conference on "The Demography of Europe" at Oxford, January 1942.
Local Secretary, Section E (Geography), British Association for the Advancement of Science, Newcastle Meeting, September 1949.
Member, British Association Subcommittee on Urban Geography, 1947-49.
Member of Council, Institute of British Geographers, 1952-54.
Presented paper, Section E (Geography), British Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford, September 1954.
Member, Anglo-Polish Seminar on Applied Geography, & Lecturer at Nieborow, Poland, Sept. 1959.
Presented paper, Lund Symposium on Urban Geography, International Geographical Congress, Stockholm, 1960.
Member of Editorial Committee, British Historic Towns Atlas, since 1964.
Presented paper and conducted Field Excursion (Newcastle/Edinburgh), International Geographical Congress, London, 1964.
Presented paper, International Geographical Congress, New Delhi, 1968.
Presented paper, 1st Anglo-German Symposium on Applied Geography, Gießen-Würzburg-München, West Germany, April 1973.
Presented paper, Section 9: Historical Geography, Internat. Geographical Congress, Tokyo, 1980.
Participant, 900th Anniversary Conference on the Domesday Book, Winchester, November, 1986.
Honored participant, 4th International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF) Conf., Birmingham, 1997.

Professor Conzen was honoured by his peers in a variety of reviews and interviews, below is a small selection of these;

"Appointments," Geography, vol. 50, no. 2 (April 1965), p. 186. Notice of personal professorship at the University of Newcastle. "Mr. Conzen is one of the most scholarly of British students of the geography of towns and this recognition of the quality of his work gives great satisfaction."
"Happy Birthday," Urban Morphology Newsletter, no. 1 (Autumn 1987), p. 1. MRGC's 80th birthday notice
Video Interview: "M. R. G. Conzen," interviewed by Jeremy W. R. Whitehand and Terry R. Slater (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Department of Geography, VHS tape, 1988).
"Conversations with Con," by Terry Slater, in Area, vol. 20, no. 4 (1988), pp. 200-202.
"Starting Again: Recollections of an Urban Morphologist," by Terry R. Slater in The Built Form of Western Cities: Essays for M. R. G. Conzen on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday edited by Terry R. Slater (Leicester and London: Leicester University Press, 1990), pp. 23-36.
How I Made the World: Shaping a View of Landscape by Jay Appleton (Hull: University of Hull Press, 1994), pp. 180-182. Describes MRGC's influence on the geographical education of the author
"Conzen, Michael Robert Gunter," Geographisches Taschenbuch 1999/2000 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999), p. 278.

For details of Professor Conzen's publications please see the attached pdf which includes a comprehensive list of his books and monographs, Festschriften, book chapters, articles and reviews, unpublished papers and other scholarly works, invited research presentations, public service, students, influence in the public sphere and obituary notices.
Custodial HistoryProfessor Conzen's son, Professor Michael P Conzen working with Professor Jeremy Whitehand from the University of Birmingham, kindly gifted his father's extensive archive to the then School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2000. The archive collection together with a limited amount of printed material passed to the care of the Cadbury Research Library in April 2012 when the School decided it was no longer able to care for the collection. The majority of the printed library associated with the collection passed to Library Services and approximately 50,000 maps were taken in by the maps department of the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at University of Birmingham.
AcquisitionProfessor Jeremy Whitehand, School of Geography, University of Birmingham
Related MaterialRelated personal material regarding Professor Conzen is held by his son Professor Michael P. Conzen who can be contacted via the University of Chicago, USA. This material includes;

DIARIES (1926-1998)
EXCURSION NOTEBOOKS (March 1930 - Jan. 1958)
FIELD BOOKS (1944-1958)
DRAWINGS (landscapes, still lifes, persons - especially cartoons)
PHOTOGRAPHS (personal, family)