Diary of an Unidentified Woman 1853


Olivia Perry

Last week we set students on our MA in Modern British Studies the following task: Using some of the fantastic diaries in the Cadbury Research Library, write 500 words about a nineteenth or twentieth century diary. Before this we encouraged students to immerse themselves in the work of Carolyn Steedman to reflect on the relationship between lives and stories, on subjectivity and self-fashioning, and how to read material not just for its content – as a source of knowledge about the past – but as a way of understanding the relationship between lives and stories, and the ways in which individuals made sense of the world and the place in it.

Over the next few days we have decided to share their findings. Kicking us yesterday was  Jacob Fredrickson on the Diary of William Prince Telfer. This blog comes from Olivia Perry. who writes on the diary of an unidentified woman from 1853. You can follow Olivia on Twitter if you like @livvyanarchy.  Click on our ‘Study with Us’ page for more information on the MA.

1853. A ‘Henry Penny’s’ improved patent metallic pocket-book diary is sold to an unknown person for 3s, 6d. A celebration, a new year is brought in with a bottle of champagne. The identity of this person is not known, but their activities in 1853 are documented daily. The description of the diary indicates that it was written by a woman, however, their name and gender are never told. They are believed to be a woman due to the types of activity they are involved with on a day to day basis.

The weather is a common feature varying on a scale of ‘very wet day’ to ‘beautiful day’. This could indicate the weather patterns throughout 1853 in an area of Kent near Margate. This scale may, however, not just document the particularities of the British weather, but instead is a pathetic fallacy, illustrating feelings felt towards ‘HPC’.

‘HPC’ is documented most days, including details of when he eats, where he is going and what times he comes and goes. HPC’s temperament is also highlighted throughout, his unpredictable and sometimes violent behaviour is unnerving. This behaviour may only be indicated in my interpretation of the diary, however, the writer refers to HPC as ‘shaking and moving to and fro’ and having an ‘off day’. The writer also describes HPC to ‘scold the children’ on multiple occasions. Two phrases struck me when reading the dairy entries; ‘he is a vile human’ and ‘harsh hands’. These phrases were not used in the same sentence; however, I think the diary does build up a certain picture of the way the writer understands HPC and the relationship between them.

Perhaps this diary was written by a woman who was scared of her husband and his violence towards her. The use of the word vile truly indicates the writer’s hatred for HPC, whilst harsh hands can be open to interpretation. Harsh hands could be used to describe the aesthetic nature of HPC’s hands, however, this is unlikely to be the case due to my perception of these individuals being reasonably wealthy. Harsh hands, therefore, could simply indicate the writer’s feelings towards HPC’s hands and perhaps indicates that he was, in fact hitting them. Certain domestic violence was culturally acceptable in 1853, as long as ‘the stick was thinner than a thumb’ is a common phrase that was used.

In 1853, however, legislation was brought in to punish people who beat their wives with sentencing up to 6 months. This does not, however, mean that wife beating was not a common occurrence and that this punishment actually deterred men from beating their wives. Perhaps this diary illustrates a woman documenting every move her husband makes in the hope that she can avoid this violence as much as possible?

This diary could even indicate a woman attempting to resist against the unfair treatment she has had to face, by documenting how unhappy and sometimes angry she is towards HPC. Even the fact that the diary is written in short hand, and in a small diary may be so that it would not be read, or at least not understood if it was found by HPC. This could also indicate that the whole family were able to read. The exact relationship between HPC and the writer of the diary is also uncertain, but their feelings towards HPC are not. HPC may well have been another relation to her, perhaps a sibling, and the writer may not have been a woman. HPC may in fact not be violent at all to the writer, and the relationship may be misunderstood. The writer could, in fact, be concerned about the behaviour of HPC and is, therefore, documenting his ‘symptoms’ within this diary.

At one point the writer mentions that HPC has gone ‘bathing’ and they are displeased with this. As HPC often travelled to Margate he could have bathed in the Royal Sea-Bathing Infirmary which was originally used to treat ‘scrofula’ (which was probably a form of tuberculosis). The writer was not happy about HPC’s trip to the baths and, therefore, this may point to them believing that medicine was not going to help, or that HPC was not suffering from an illness.

Royal Sea Bathing Infirmary  Sept 10 1853

I have written ‘writer’ to refer to this unknown person, however, the diary includes different hand writings. This could indicate that the diary was put together by different people, offering confusion as to whose identity is being constructed through the analysis of the writing.Children or ‘chicks’ are mentioned throughout the diary, which may have been the individual’s siblings and they may well have written parts of the diary.

Perhaps even the children wrote in the diary on the days that the individual was not able to due to HPC inflicted wounds. If one person did write this diary, maybe they wrote with their other hand for parts. This may also be due to injuries, or the person could have been left handed in a period of time when this was seen as savage and criminal and so they may have been forced to write with their right hand.

Something that is clear, is that this individual was religious and much of the diary revolves around trips to the Church with the family. This is probably quite common for individuals in 1853, but only attending Church was documented and not the content of the services, or prayers. This could indicate what the diary was used for, simply to track where the person had been on that day and what the weather was like.

Times are documented rather meticulously throughout, perhaps illustrating the organised nature of the person. The diary still does, however, have a personal feel as it documents the feelings towards HPC which is a main theme of the diary. This could indicate that Church was seen more as a necessary place to attend, rather than there being a personal connection to religion.

Despite this individual being wealthy, which is likely due to the drinking of champagne, turkey and plum pudding on Christmas day, and the expensive nature of the diary, they clearly had a very volatile life style which is represented in the need to document the times in which things happen and the broken relationship with HPC.

Despite this diary being of someone who is unidentified we are therefore able to construct some interpretations of how this person experienced 1853, from the short hand notes scribbled away in their diary. A diary is often a very personal item which can show how an individual thinks, in this case in a very organised and meticulous way. This diary was probably not written to be read by others as it is written in abbreviations and, therefore, the audience was probably themself. Despite not knowing this person’s gender or name, we still have some insight into their life which in fact may not have been influenced by this knowledge and associated stereotypes or by other sources.


The Diary of William Prince Telfer: Summer 1914


Jacob Fredrickson

Last week we set students on our MA in Modern British Studies the following task: Using some of the fantastic diaries in the Cadbury Research Library, write 500 words about a nineteenth or twentieth century diary. Before this we encouraged students to immerse themselves in the work of Carolyn Steedman to reflect on the relationship between lives and stories, on subjectivity and self-fashioning, and how to read material not just for its content – as a source of knowledge about the past – but as a way of understanding the relationship between lives and stories, and the ways in which individuals made sense of the world and the place in it.

Over the next few days we have decided to share their findings. Kicking us off is Jacob Fredrickson on the Diary of William Prince Telfer. Should you like, you can follow Jacob on Twitter @jacobTfred. Click on our ‘Study with Us’ page for more information on the MA.

Beneath all the apparent sophistication and cynicism of his work there always lay concealed this longing for ‘a beautiful strangeness’.

Dixon Scott – Review of The Works of Stanley Houghton in the Manchester Guardian, 2nd July 1914, p. 7.

Shall have to be more concise in this diary. It requires too much time at present.

The diary of William Prince Telfer, Monday 20th July 1914.

William Telfer spent 1914 writing. Daily his pen would help shape the flow of sugar that poured through S & W Beresford wholesale Grocers, as part of its journey into the imperial diets of the people of Manchester. Amidst hasty glances towards the young male colleagues who so intrigued him, Telfer would scratch a tiny imprint into the global story of an imperial capitalist system about to implode in the face of total war.

That is about as much as I can say about the work that took up so much of Telfer’s time. When he was not writing at work, he was often writing at home, into the diary that is now open beside me. Finding as much quiet as he could in the small house he shared with his parents, three brothers and a lodger, Telfer transcribed his daily life, often in the style of the books he would borrow from, or the newspapers he would read at, the Manchester Athenaeum. I have his borrower ticket too –  number 3037 – carefully placed on the front page of his scrap-book.

Reading and writing meant a lot to Telfer, but not the ordinary writing of the clerk’s office. That was demoted to a vague sentence, one I’ve learnt to skip almost unconsciously, “B. All day”. Rather the writing that Telfer cherished was the literary agility of George Bernard Shaw, the journalistic bombast of G.W Russell, or the “beautiful strangeness” of Manchester playwright Stanley Houghton. Telfer’s experience of 1914 was infused with the literature he read and the news he consumed, the archival trace of which brings this literally to view, newspaper cuttings overlapping with delicate handwriting – annotations draw me to future writing projects influenced by his favourite writers.

“When I write ‘Tales of Manchester’ I shall not do much attending to names”. I don’t know if Telfer ever completed, or even started ‘Tales of Manchester’, I – we – lose track of his thoughts by September 1914, his archival presence recedes into sign-posts of future events – military service, marriage, death, all of which inflected with the callous anonymity of institutional records. ‘Tales of Manchester’ remains a distant dream, literary futures that shape the non-literary present of Telfer’s 1914.

The literary road not taken perhaps matter for the biographer. However, I am not a biographer. The literary pretensions of Telfer, his love of reading, his dreams of living by his pen, order the thoughts and feelings that make it into his diary, and by extension shape the ways in which Telfer saw the world that he lived in at this particular historical moment.

That is not to say that he always saw the world like this. The heavy, violent ink blots censoring sentence after sentence, indicate the presence of another Telfer who returns to alter the shape and meaning of this diary. The self-censorship that appears highlights the temporal disjuncture of the diary. Past, present and future Telfers jump out at me, vying for my affection, in the hope that I – the historian – will present their version of William Telfer.

Predictably, I was drawn to these blotches first. The inevitable step for the arrogant historian who seeks to uncover a hidden, an inaccessible past. In doing so I ignored the pages upon pages of daily life that Telfer had left – his walks, incessant, around Chorlton-on-Medlock and Moss Side, his almost daily trips to the scout hut, ‘The Wigwam’ – too old to scout, Telfer found solace in the homo-social world of the Old Scout Association – his familial arguments, his strained friendships, his strange and contradictory opinions on politics, war and social change. All this receded and blurred as my attention – my excitement – was towards that which I couldn’t see.

However, the more I read, the more the blotches turned my attention to what was still there, hidden in plain sight. Telfer seemed to admire the male form, especially young male bodies. A cutting from July of boys enjoying the sun by jumping in the canal is accompanied with the caption, “I would like to have seen them”. As young Clerks enter Telfer’s office, the diary stops and takes three or four lines to describe the boy stood before us.

It is here where the blotches appear startlingly, and the boys vanish into unwritten desires now lost. These blotches present a visible indication of past desires that Telfer doesn’t want me to see. I could try and name these, but the boundaries between admiration and attraction are so blurred as to highlight the very fiction of the categories between bonds of friendship and something more sexual. Indeed, I don’t think 1914 Telfer had any conception of a coherent difference between friendship and attraction, something older Telfer imposes onto the diary through his nervous editing.

However, Telfer does invest heavily into his friendships, and I don’t think I impose too much to say that this often boils over into infatuation. During the summer of 1914, Telfer grew fond of George Maude, whose small thumbnail picture is carefully placed into July’s entries. I couldn’t help but feel for Telfer as he walks back and forth down the street where he thinks Maude is, the description of the walls inflected with Telfer’s frustration and unrequited feelings;


to get a glimpse of the back

windows of 36. It was futile

I only saw black, dirty

ugly squalid walls.

I wanted to grab hold of Telfer’s hand, feeling I was stood with him on the bottom step towards the basement of Beresford’s, where he catches a glimpse of Maude, “swaying”, “grappling” and “panting” with another young clerk. But the sympathy I felt I know comes from me, not from the diary. I am reminded of my own unrequited feelings, gut wrenching moments at parties and nightclubs of seeing someone else, in the words of Telfer, “struggling” in the spot where I want to be.

Telfer’s diary never states these feelings, I am inferring from his walks, his glances, his attention to detail in recounting the incident in the basement urinal. But as I do I am also investing myself into these moments. As I recount them here, the basement blurs into the nightclub, the walk to spot Maude overlaps with my own ‘accidental’ strolls. Without naming these desires, I am left to infer, a project where I am on show as much as Telfer. Telfer’s own ossified desires remain unintelligible, a “beautiful strangeness”, not absent yet not quite readable.



Fragments from the archives: reading university committee minutes as a gossip column, 1900-1960s

Helen Fisher, Archivist at the Cadbury Research Library

Helen Fisher, Archivist at the Cadbury Research Library

When other work commitments allow, I return to my main responsibility, to catalogue the institutional records of the University of Birmingham. I’m currently working on the minutes of the university’s major committees, Council and Senate. These are an important source for the study of the university’s core functions and activities and contain significant information about its development during the course of the twentieth century. This development was both in the expansion of university buildings on the Edgbaston campus, and the growth and broadening scope of its research and teaching activities.

Piecing together the history of the institution requires a close reading of the minutes. Most of the content focuses on strategy and policy, which means that items directly about staff and students leap out of the records. These range from items documenting the requirements of academics to assist their working lives in the Senate minutes, to opinions about the student body disclosed in the annual reports of the Student Lodgings Warden to Council.


These items permit us to glimpse aspects of the lives and experiences of staff and students, though viewed through official sources, and I’ve come to look out for these brief fragments and read them almost as you might do a gossip column. Here are a few examples.

Staff comfort was clearly important. Council minutes in March 1913 report a complaint by teaching staff at Edgbaston, then comprising just the Aston Webb building complex, about ‘inadequate arrangements in the Dining Hall’ citing the poor quality of food and ‘inferior preparation’. At the time, staff and students ate together, and the response from the University Club recorded in the minutes in May 1913 dismissed the complaint, claiming that the undergraduate members had no grievances.

Teaching was disrupted during the First World War, with the Edgbaston buildings used as military hospital, and several members of staff on military or government service. In June 1920, the Senate report to Council suggests that staff were keen for a return to some pre-war routines. Staff asked for the repair of furniture in the staff common room at the Edmund Street buildings in the city centre, and for a fire to be lit during the winter. They also wanted writing materials, a cupboard to hang their gowns, a sofa, and a supply of newspapers and journals for the common room. Finally, they wanted to be able to get coffee after lunch, and afternoon tea ‘as before the War’.

In 1937, Professor Cramp of Electrical Engineering complained to Senate that it was difficult for staff in the Faculty of Science to carry out research work at Edgbaston during the summer vacation because the refectory was closed, and the library was closed during the month of August. The university’s response was that it was not financially viable to open the refectory but that staff could get lunch at the Guild of Students building until the end of July, and then again from the 1st September, and that staff could still use the library even though it was officially closed.

If staff were dissatisfied with their working conditions, the situation for women students, particularly in the years before the Second World War, were even worse. The Report of the Senior Tutor to the Women Students, included in Council minutes in March 1926, contains a depressing description of the facilities, with segregated refectories and common rooms. In the women’s common room at Edmund Street ‘evidently quarters were hastily assigned to the women…situated in the worst possible part of the building…not even in summer does the sun penetrate their gloom’.

Efforts to regulate the accommodation rented by students who did not live in university halls of residence can be seen in annual reports of the Lodgings Committee. These are often as revealing about the attitudes of the authors as about the facilities provided. For example, the report of 1931 states that there were several lodgings where the houses are ‘of poor type and without inside sanitation and bathroom, and there was a want of cleanliness’. It goes on to say that one student who had stayed in one of these houses was the son of an agricultural labourer, at the university on a scholarship, and ‘probably he was quite satisfied with the accommodation provided’.


As we move into the 1950s and 1960s we see the Lodgings Warden’s reports providing an insight into the university’s attempts to deal with a rapidly changing student demographic and the different expectations of both students and householders. They summarise landladies’ problems with students in 1956 as involving ‘Freshers’ follies – too much to drink, staying up too late, swollen heads’ in the autumn term, ‘fuel problems, illness and general tiredness, late rising of students’ in the spring term and ‘irritability and rudeness as exams approach, completely unpredictable behaviour after exams’ in the summer term. The report also notes that ‘possession of a motor-cycle, a blasé manner, or a scruffy appearance may make the securing of a vacancy difficult’.

Though international students had studied at the university since its establishment, numbers increased after 1945. The Lodgings Warden acknowledged in 1957 that some householders discriminated against overseas students on grounds of ethnicity, but also due to ‘cultural’ issues relating to diet, and the need for running water in rooms for religious observance. The 1960 report mentions misunderstandings involving students from overseas cooking with garlic, and a recurring theme of reports from the 1960s is the demands of both UK and international students for greater independence in their accommodation, preferring to live in ‘flatlets’ or bedsitting rooms in Moseley and Acocks Green rather than in rented rooms which, although having meals and laundry provided, came with the restrictions of living with a family.

These snippets, and several others, have demonstrated to me that there is more to the university committee minutes than I had first thought. There is definitely scope for research into a number of aspects of experiences of higher education, especially when the minutes are used in conjunction with other record series. As I continue cataloguing, I am sure that more will be revealed.

The secret life of Henry Reed

Mark Eccleston, Archivist at the Cadbury Reserach Library

Mark Eccleston, Archivist at the Cadbury Research Library

Henry Reed, as a literary figure, is well known to audiences as the author of the Second World War poem ‘Naming of Parts’. His personal papers, held at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, demonstrate that he also wrote well-received radio plays, was a talented linguist and excellent translator.

Henry was born in Erdington on 22 February 1914. He was awarded a scholarship to the University of Birmingham and became one of the so called ‘Birmingham Group’: a circle of writers and artists including W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Walter Allen.

Henry’s public persona was debonair, even aristocratic: the archetypal literary man about town. A talented actor and director, Reed produced numerous plays including a number performed by the Birmingham University Dramatic Society (BUDS). He deliberately lost all trace of his Birmingham accent, developed a very quick wit and must have been a most engaging companion.

Henry Reed

Henry Reed

Yet behind these successes, his private life was somewhat more troubled.  Personal correspondence held at the Cadbury Research Library sheds light on how Henry coped with his homosexuality. These letters, mostly written during the 1940s, were sent to Henry’s younger lover, Michael Ramsbotham. Michael retained the letters, gifting them to the University and thereby making them available for research for the first time.

The letters paint a picture of the couple’s somewhat turbulent relationship. The couple met at Bletchley and were romantically involved through much of the 1940s. They parted and reunited on numerous occasions. In one letter, dated July 1944, Henry wrote to Michael: ‘I have loved you very much […] but the world without you is flat and insipid […] and such laughter as there is, causes a pang at the thought that it can’t any longer be re-laughed with you’.

The couple parted permanently during 1950. They only corresponded with each other occasionally after this date. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s Henry went into premature decline. The impulse to write had disappeared and in his last decade, drink and self-neglect undermined his always fragile health. Henry became increasingly incapacitated and was removed to hospital. Here he died on 8 December 1986, Michael returning to be at his side.

As a public figure Henry was unafraid of including homosexual references and explicit comments in his literary work. His ‘Hilda Tablet’ radio plays, first broadcast during the 1950s, contained numerous gay references and suggestions. Even his most famous creation, ‘Naming of Parts’, is as much about masturbation as anything else.

Yet perhaps this public openness concealed, in part, the hidden angst we see in his letters to Ramsbotham? Maybe his sexual confidence was all a front and his close friend and contemporary, Walter Allen, was referring to the ‘real’ Henry when he writes, in a manuscript held at the Cadbury Research Library, that Henry’s ‘tragedy was that he could never come to terms with his homosexuality’.

The papers of Henry Reed are catalogued online with full description of their content (Finding Number: MS31)

‘Purity and Danger’: the newly-discovered Diaries of William Telfer, 1912-1914

In this week’s second MBS blog, Archivist Dr Helen Fisher shares more fantastic material from the University’s Cadbury Research Library. Helen can be found on twitter at @HelenxFisher.

Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher

A recently discovered collection held at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections has turned out to be an exciting find, with great potential for research into the social and cultural life of a Manchester clerk in period immediately leading up to the First World War.

Purchased from a rare book and manuscript dealer in 2005, the collection consists of four diaries and a scrapbook kept by William Prince Telfer, born in 1893, and living at Grafton Street, Rusholme, with his parents and younger brothers. The diaries cover the period January 1913 to September 1914, and there are detailed entries for each day. The scrapbook contains press cuttings dating from 1915 and 1916. Telfer worked as a clerk at Berisfords wholesale grocers, in Manchester, and spent much of his free time involved in activities run by the 6th Manchester Scout troop. He was a member of the Old Scouts Association and editor of the troop’s monthly magazine, writing detailed diary entries about his involvement with his Scout troop and friendships with other group members.


Reading was Telfer’s other major leisure interest. The diaries are full of references to books he read, which were either borrowed from local libraries or purchased. He was particularly interested in contemporary fiction, but also read plays, poetry, and biographies, as well as some books on history, and art. Entries are interspersed with press cuttings, often consisting of book, theatre and art exhibition reviews – Telfer watched plays as well as reading published scripts – as well as Scouting, women’s suffrage, and issues connected with the social purity movement. From August 1914, there are also articles about the early stages of the First World War in France and Belgium.

Telfer was clearly influenced by his reading, and often expressed his thoughts about the books he read. His diaries also contain evidence of his thoughts about religion, morality, and politics, and his concerns about whether to volunteer for service in the First World War. He had a keen interest in journalism, and wanted to become a writer, occasionally mentioning his frustrations about his job as a clerk, and about living at home with his parents.

The diaries are rich in detail about Telfer’s shifting friendships with others in his Scout troop, and also with work colleagues, often seen in the context of his concerns about ‘purity’. He seems to have seen himself as a mentor to younger friends and work colleagues, and many entries contain observations about their moral and sexual attitudes and behaviour which he saw as dangerous. This was often centred on conversation about masturbation and sexual activity, though he also reports incidents involving sexual contact. Though Telfer apparently disapproves, he was also clearly intrigued by this behaviour, and other evidence in the diaries suggests that he was interested in, and perhaps attracted to, men.

The diaries are now catalogued online with full description of their content and a brief biography of William Telfer http://calmview.bham.ac.uk (Finding Number MS202)

Alternative views of the Chamberlain family

This week’s MBS blog comes from The University of Birmingham’s Archivist, Dr Helen Fisher. She shares some of the rich material from Chamberlain papers held within the University’s Cadbury Research Library. Helen will be writing about other finds in the archives on Wednesday.

Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher

July 1914 marks the centenary of the death of Joseph Chamberlain. Events planned by the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections over the next few months include exhibitions and the creation of new resource guides to the Chamberlain family archive collections. Research for these projects revealed both the expected and unexpected images of Chamberlain. We can see Chamberlain the young businessman and politician, and as the statesman in later life, gazing authoritatively to the camera through his monocle. We also see Chamberlain as the University of Birmingham’s first Chancellor in ceremonial robes, reinforcing his power and importance.

Yet the archives contain other photographs of Chamberlain which are relatively unknown. These are informal images taken by his third wife, Mary. Mary seems to have been a keen amateur photographer, gathering photos together in Kodak albums. Many of them depict scenes of family life at Highbury, Chamberlain’s residence in Birmingham. The photographs included here are part of a larger series and show Chamberlain with his granddaughter, Hilda Mary, child of his youngest daughter, Ethel.

cad 1








Hilda Mary was born in 1901, and her mother died in 1905. As a child she spent long periods of time at Highbury, where she was looked after by her aunts, Ida, Hilda and Beatrice, and also spent time with her uncles, Austen and Neville. Joseph Chamberlain is seen here as a fond grandfather, and Hilda Mary is clearly happy in his company. Mary Chamberlain presumably never intended these photographs for public dissemination, but perhaps wanted to capture members of the family relaxing at home, and to depict Joseph Chamberlain as an affectionate grandfather, in contrast to his public image.

These photographs suggest possible ways to use the Chamberlain archives to explore family relationships, particularly the substantial correspondence between the Chamberlain siblings. This material has been studied to chart the development of both Austen and Neville Chamberlain’s political careers but has not been widely investigated to study the lives of their sisters. Letters span the period from the early 1890s when the sisters were living in Birmingham and London, to the 1930s when Ida and Hilda were based in rural Hampshire and involved in local government work and voluntary social welfare initiatives in both health and education.

As well as documenting aspects of the sisters’ work, the letters express their views on contemporary political, economic and social issues, and discuss their social engagements and cultural lives. They also allow information about their friendship networks and their role within the wider Chamberlain and Kenrick families to emerge, including their relationship with their niece Hilda Mary.

A recent addition to the archives adds to the potential research use of the collections in this area. It consists of a set of picture postcards sent to Hilda Mary during the 1900s, annotated with personal messages from her ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandpa’ and from her aunts and uncles. Many of the postcards contain early tourist views of locations as diverse as Tenerife, Croatia, and Egypt. Taken together with the travel diaries of Neville, Ida, and Hilda Chamberlain they form useful sources for the study of the travel experiences of members of a wealthy middle class family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These are just a few examples of the kinds of material in the Chamberlain family archives; their research potential extends well beyond political history.