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Archive of Sir (Arthur) Richard Jolly


  • How to

The archive comprises diaries, correspondence, working and literary papers and speeches mainly relating to Richard Jolly's long career as a development economist in academia and at the United Nations, with a small amount of family and personal correspondence enclosed.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1915-c. 2017, n.d.


31.03 Linear metres (86 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish; Castilian
  • Italian
  • Chinese
  • Arabic

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to publish materials should be directed to the copyright owner.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 21713/15].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 21713/1-85, MS. 21713 Photogr. 1

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 21713


Correspondence and papers of the United Nations and Institute of Development Studies development economist Sir Richard Jolly (1934-).

Biographical / Historical

Richard Jolly graduated in economics from Magdalene College Cambridge in 1956. Due to his Christian religious convictions, he registered as a conscientious objector and instead of being conscripted into the military for his National Service he served in the Colonial Service as a Community Development Officer in the Baringo District of Kenya from January 1957-January 1959, reassessing and relinquishing his religious convictions during that service.

In 1959 Jolly was secretary of the British Alpine Hannibal Expedition, which attempted to retrace, with an elephant called Jumbo, Hannibal's route across the Alps. There were anniversary crossings in 2009 and 2014 (without any elephants). He also followed his father to beome a member and later Master (1977-1978) of the City of London livery company the Worshipful Company of Curriers.

During the 1960s Jolly studied for a Masters and PhD at Yale, and participated in a research tour of Cuba soon after the revolution. After his masters he became a research fellow at the East Africa Institute of Social Research, Makerere College in Kampala Uganda (1963), and did short-term economic consultancies on technical assistance assignments in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Botswana, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Trinidad, Zambia and Bangladesh. He also worked as a consultant on education for the United National Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. He later returned to Zambia to become an advisor to the Zambian government on manpower on behalf of the UK's Ministry of Overseas Development.

After this he joined Cambridge University's Applied Economics department as a research officer (1964-1968).

Jolly became a fellow of the thinktank the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex in 1969 and became a professorial fellow at the University of Sussex in 1971. From 1972 he was director of the IDS (until he was appointed to UNICEF in 1981). He retained a fellowship at the IDS while working for the United Nations.

In 1970 he was seconded from the IDS to work for the United Nations as the Senior Economist in the Development Division of Zambia's Ministry of Development and Finance.

Through the 1970s he continued to work on technical assistance and advisory programmes for the UN focussing mainly on labour and employment, including heading missions on agriculture and basic needs to Bangladesh and Zambia. From 1978-1981 he was a member and rapporteur of the UN Committee for Development Planning.

From 1974 Jolly was on the council of the Overseas Development Institute in London, and from 1975 on the governing council and executive board of the Society for International Development (and then vice president of SID from 1982-1985). He helped develop the North-South Roundtable as a project of the Society for International Development, chairing the Roundtable from 1987-1996. The Roundtable was a group founded by Barbara Ward (1914-1981) which incorporated equal numbers of representatives from developed and developing countries to discuss and brief policy makers on global development issues.

Jolly was appointed Deputy Executive Director (Programmes) of UNICEF in July 1981 with the rank of UN Assistant Secretary General, starting officially on 1 Jan 1982 (until 1995). He had responsibilities for UNICEF's programmes globally. His focus on paying more attention to the needs of women and children in economic adjustement policies led to his work on the co-authored book Adjustment With a Human Face (1987). From January 1995 he served as Acting Executive Director of UNICEF during the ill health and then death of the Director Jim Grant, and was a candidate for the UNICEF directorship but was not appointed [Carol Bellamy was appointed in April 1995].

Jolly ended his fellowship at the Institute of Development Studies from 30 Sep 1992 but remained an honorary professor and research associate.

He was given a fellowship at Princeton in 1995 and appointed to the UN Development Programme from 1996-2000 as Special Advisor to the Administrator of the UNDP and coordinator of the UNDP’s Human Development Report which published reports on a human development approach to growth as well as on poverty, consumption, globalization and human rights.

From 1996-2000 Jolly chaired the UN Sub-Committee on Nutrition and from Sep 1997-Dec 2003 and Nov 2004-Aug 2005 was the Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. Following retirement from the UN from 2001-2006 he was a trustee of the charity OXFAM and chairperson of the United Nations Association (UK), an independent policy association.

In the 2000s he became the co-director of the UN Intellectual History Project based at City University in New York which produced a sixteen volume history of the UN's contributions to development, and was a co-author of the summary volume UN Ideas That Changed The World. Other books he wrote or co-authored on the topic of development and UN history include Disarmament and World Development (1984), Jim Grant: UNICEF Visionary (2002) and The Bretton Woods Institutions and the United Nations; Challenges for the 21st Century (1995).

He married American primatologist Alison Bishop (d. 2014) in 1963, and they had four children. Jolly was knighted in 2001 for his contributions to development.


Richard Jolly's original order has been retained as far as possible, and the collection is catalogued in files as arranged and kept by Richard Jolly, many of which are a mix of correspondence, literary and working papers and copies of speeches.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Sir Richard Jolly, 2022.

Related Materials

The Bodleian contains numerous United Nations-related archival collections, including the Archive of the United Nations Career Records Project [MSS. Eng. c. 4655-4748, c. 4797, c. 5229].

Charlotte McKillop-Mash
Language of description
Script of description
Catalogued with the generous support of Sir Richard Jolly.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom