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Conservative Party Archive: Think tanks: Progress Trust


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This collection consists of papers from the meetings of the Progress Trust's Advisory Council (1943-2003), Political Committee (1943-2005) and Business Committee (1943-1967), including minutes, agenda and supporting papers. There is also a large series of research notes (later known as Ebury research notes) from 1961-1966 and 1971-2006 which were prepared by the Trust's research officer. The topics discussed in research notes written between 1943-1954 are also listed, although the notes themselves have not survived.

Also included are two account books covering the periods 1972-1983 and 1994-2006; several files of assorted correspondence with members, employees and sponsors; membership records; and miscellaneous papers comprising of papers relating to the Trust's history, and papers concerning one of its Chairmen, Thomas Dunlop Galbraith.


  • Creation: 1943-2012


3.6 Linear metres (24 shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. CTT/PT 1/1].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

CTT/PT 1-8

Collection ID (for staff)



Papers of the Progress Trust, 1943-2012.

Biographical / Historical

The Progress Trust was a Conservative think tank founded in 1943. One of the main reasons for the Trust's formation was the concern that left-wing politics was becoming increasingly popular during the War and so, through undertaking research and cultivating debate, the Progress Trust aimed to combat this shift in political opinion by better educating Conservative MPs. It was the Trust's belief that 'Education of Members of Parliament is no less necessary than education of the Public. It is essential that when Members speak in the House they should be accurate, well informed, and have a thorough understanding of their subject' [Objects of the Trust, CTT/PT 7/2]. Another key objective of the Trust was to promote free enterprise and to foster closer relationships between members of industry and Parliament.

Management of the Trust was overseen by its Council, headed by a Chairman and Vice-Chairman. It was well-funded by businesses which enabled the employment of several permanent members of staff, including a secretary and research officer. Membership was acquired through invitation only and there was a strict no-leaks policy. For most of its existence, membership of the Trust was limited to backbench MPs, meaning that its members had to forgo their membership when they became ministers. These rules were later amended to allow former ministers to renew their membership once they had left the front bench.

The Trust initially functioned primarily as a research facility for its members but also became well-known as a dining club. It met once a week to dine, discuss topical issues, and to hear from guest speakers. Prior to each meeting, a research note would be circulated amongst members which was prepared by the Trust's research officer with the purpose of stimulating discussion on a particular subject at the meeting. The Trust continued to operate on this weekly basis until the early 2000s when attendance began to fall and meetings consequently became increasingly infrequent. The Trust met for the final time on 14 December 2005.

Custodial History

The archive of the Conservative Party was established as a source for academic study at the Bodleian Library in 1978 by an agreement made between the University of Oxford and the Conservative Party, and brought together surviving historic papers of the Party previously held in various locations including Newcastle University Library and the former Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, London. Since 1996, ownership of the archive has been vested in the Conservative Party Archive Trust. The archive includes records from all three areas of Party organisation: parliamentary, voluntary and professional.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Conservative Party.


Conservative Party Archive: Progress Trust
Finding aid prepared by Anabel Farrell
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom