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Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky, KCMG


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The collection includes not only Welensky's own papers but also papers of the government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Northern Rhodesian and Pre-Federation material

  1. Correspondence, etc. mainly relating to position as Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia, 1941-3
  2. Papers relating to the Northern Rhodesian Executive and Legislature, including petitions for clemency and reports of select committees of the Legislative Council, 1947-53
  3. Correspondence, etc. relating to the Unofficial Members' Association of the Legislative Council (of which Welensky was Chairman), and the Liaison Office, 1945-53
  4. Papers of boards and committees to which Welensky was nominated by the Government, comprising Rhodesia Railways, the Central and Southern Africa Transport Conference (Johannesburg), Chilanga Cement Ltd., and the Central Africa Rhodes Centenary Exhibition Ltd., 1945-56
  5. Liaison Office files, comprising material on economic affairs and development, finance, agriculture, education and welfare, health and local government (and African housing), legal affairs and the Attorney-General, the Secretary for Native Affairs, and Chief Secretary, 1946-55
  6. Correspondence with the Commissioner for Northern Rhodesia, London, 1951-53
  7. Miscellaneous Liaison and other Northern Rhodesia files, 1949-54
  8. Various papers relating to Broken Hill, 1948-53
  9. Papers relating to conferences on closer federation, 1948-53
  10. Correspondence on closer association, 1950-53
  11. Papers of the Federation Campaign and campaigning organisations, 1941-[1953]
  12. Papers of the Central African Council (an inter-governmental possible precursor to federation, of which Welensky was a member), 1944-53
  13. Correspondence and notes for speeches of Sir Godfrey Huggins, first Prime Minister of the Federation, 1953-4

Federal Cabinet, Federal Government, Federal Public Service and Federal Assembly, the Governor-General and the Executive Council

  1. Cabinet minutes, 1953-63
  2. Memoranda presented to the cabinet, 1953-63
  3. Cabinet information papers, 1953-63
  4. Papers of cabinet committees and working parties, including the Cabinet Committee on Future Planning, 1954-63
  5. Minutes, agendas, etc. of inter-governmental meetings, 1953-63
  6. Contemporary card indexes to cabinet conclusions and memoranda, 1953-63
  7. Proceedings, etc. of Commonwealth Conferences, 1951-62
  8. Papers relating to the establishment and organisation of the Federation, 1946-63
  9. Correspondence, etc. relating to civil service and public appointments, [1951]-1963
  10. Minutes, etc. of miscellaneous meetings with other governments, 1954-9
  11. Departmental circulars, 1953-6
  12. Minutes, correspondence, lists, etc. concerning the Governor-General, Territorial Governors, and honours, 1953-64
  13. Minutes, reports, files, correspondence, Parliamentary questions and answers, etc. relating to the Federal Assembly and other Parliamentary matters, 1950-63

Files of the Federal era relating to Welensky's portfolios and to other aspects of government securing his attention

  1. Files relating to Federal constitutional affairs, 1953-[1963]
  2. Files relating to Northern Rhodesian constitutional affairs, 1949-[1963]
  3. Files relating to Nyasaland constitutional affairs, 1955-[1963]
  4. Files relating to Southern Rhodesian constitutional affairs, 1957-63
  5. Correspondence, memoranda, etc. relating to sundry constitutional matters, citizenship and franchise, [1950s-1963]
  6. Correspondence, etc. relating to constitutional affairs in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, East Africa and Swaziland, 1949-62
  7. Correspondence, reports, memoranda, briefings, etc. relating to external affairs, defence, armed forces, intelligence and security, 1953-[1963]
  8. Correspondence, reports, press cuttings, etc. relating to the Nyasaland Emergency (1959) and Nyasaland security matters, 1953-63
  9. Correspondence, reports, etc. relating to other emegencies and internal security matters, 1954-63
  10. Correspondence, etc. relating to internal affairs, including deportation, immigration, African advancement, labour, trades unions and industrial relations, 1949-63
  11. Correspondence, reports, etc. relating to the (Belgian) Congo and the State of Katanga, 1960-[1963]
  12. Photographs, reports, etc. relating to the Ndola air crash (1961), [1961-1962]
  13. Correspondence, reports, memoranda, transcripts, publications relating to information, public relations, the press and broadcasting, 1950-63
  14. Correspondence, memoranda, reports, etc. relating to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Posts, mainly concerning aviation, railways and broadcasting, 1950-63
  15. Papers relating to other portfolios temporarily handled by Welensky, including power generation (Kariba Dam), copper, economy, industries, land use, housing, agriculture, education, health and social welfare, 1946-63
  16. Miscellaneous Northern Rhodesian and Federal era files, 1954-63
  17. Plans, sketches and photographs, 1945-[1962]

Public engagements, visits and speeches

  1. Papers relating to engagements, including diaries, invitations, guest lists, etc., 1953-63
  2. Papers relating to official and private visitors, including correspondence and programmes, 1947-63
  3. Papers relating to visits, including correspondence, photographs, itineraries, briefing material, etc., 1948-63
  4. Papers relating to tours and engagements outside Salisbury, mainly correspondence, 1951-63
  5. Invitations, etc., 1951-63
  6. Souvenirs, 1953-63
  7. Texts of speeches, 1953-63
  8. Notes, drafts, miscellaneous material, etc. relating to speeches, 1953-[1963]

Elections, political parties and organisations

  1. Correspondence, reports, manifestos, press cuttings, etc. relating to Federal Assembly elections, 1953-63
  2. Manifestos, correspondence, memoranda, press cuttings, etc. relating to Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council elections, [1953-1962]
  3. Correspondence, manifestos, etc. relating to Nyasaland Legislative Council/Legislative Assembly elections, 1960-3
  4. Correspondence, press cuttings, manifestos, circulars, etc. relating to Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly elections, 1958-63
  5. Papers relating to 1961 referendum, Southern Rhodesia, 1961-2
  6. Correspondence, agendas, minutes, resolutions, memoranda, manifestos, constitutions, printed material, policy statements, etc. relating to the (United) Federal Party and its successors, 1953-63
  7. Correspondence, manifestos, press cuttings, printed material, etc. relating to other political parties, organisations and movements, [1940s-63]
  8. Papers relating to Commonwealth and Empire groups and political parties, 1953-63
  9. Correspondence, memoranda, speeches, printed material, etc. comprising the archives of the United Federal Party (Central Office), including material on other political movements at home and overseas political parties[c1950-1964]

Private Secretary's correspondence, Private Office organisation, general and personal correspondence, and miscellanea

  1. Memoranda, correspondence, briefing material, statistics, etc., relating to the private side of the office and Private Secretary, [1953-1963]
  2. (Principal) Private Secretary's correspondence, 1953-63
  3. General correspondence, 1951-3
  4. Letters of support and opposition, appreciation and thanks, [1951-1964]
  5. Testimonials, references, correspondence and other papers concerning employment, 1951-63; correspondence and appeals for advice concerning immigration, income tax, pensions, etc., 1963
  6. Correspondence, etc. relating to charities, patronage and memberships, 1951-63
  7. Correspondence, etc. relating to illness, celebrations, honours and other ephemeral topics, 1946-[1963]
  8. Personal correspondence, [1950-1969]
  9. Personal information and intelligence files, [1949-1963]
  10. Papers, mainly correspondence, relating to personal affairs, including honours, biographical details and property, 1941-63
  11. Correspondence, rules, agenda, etc. relating to the Rhodesia Railway Workers' Union, 1941-56
  12. Correspondence, etc. of Sir Godfrey Huggins as Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, 1936-56
  13. Miscellaneous papers, [1936-1961]

Post-Federal material

  1. Diaries, correspondence, itineraries, transcripts, drafts, notes, etc. relating to engagements, visits, speeches, memoirs and other writings, 1963-80
  2. Correspondence and other papers mainly relating to the Arundel by-election (1964), 1963-4
  3. Correspondence and other papers relating to political affairs, elections and Anglo-Rhodesian negotiations, [1964]-1980
  4. Correspondence, 1964-90
  5. Correspondence and other papers relating to personal, financial and business matters, 1963-90
  6. Miscellaneous papers, mainly printed material, press cuttings and scrapbooks, 1940-79


  • Creation: 1936-90


805 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Welensky].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Welensky

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 4847

Biographical / Historical

Sir Roy Welensky (1907-91), PC (1960), KCMG (1959), Kt (1953), CMG (1946) was brought up in Southern Rhodesia, then moved to Northern Rhodesia at the age of seventeen as a fireman on the Rhodesia Railways, playing a prominent part in the railway strike of 1929. Following the strike, he became a leader in the Railway Workers' Union. In 1933 he was made Chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the Union and was appointed a member of the National Council. In 1938 he became a member of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council. In the same year he began a successful twelve year battle with the British South Africa Company over mineral royalties, achieving an agreement which gave Northern Rhodesia 20% of royalties for the next thirty-seven years. He held the Broken Hill seat until his election to the Federal Assembly in 1953. From 1940 he was a member of the Executive Council and was appointed Chairman of the Unofficial Members Association in 1946. During World War Two he served as Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia, and in 1941 founded the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party.

An advocate of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Welensky attended all the conferences leading to its establishment, and was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, and Minister of Posts early in 1954. Later the same year, he was made Leader of the House, and became Prime Minister in 1956. By the end of the 1950s, however, he realised that, in the face of decolonisation, nationalism, etc., the Federation could not last, and eventually accepted the dissolution process. He made an unsuccessful return to politics in the Arundel by-election, Southern Rhodesia, 1964. After retiring from politics, he continued to correspond with statesmen worldwide, and published Welensky's 4000 Days. The life and death of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (London, Collins,1964). In 1928 he married Elizabeth Wilhelmina Henderson, with whom he had three children. She died in 1969, and in 1972 he married (Miriam) Valerie Scott, with whom he had two daughters.


A detailed account of the arrangement and original filing system of the papers can be found in the printed handlist.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 844 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996). A handlist, Papers of The Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky KCMG 1907-1991 in Rhodes House Library Oxford. A Catalogue, compiled by J.F. Hargrave (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1995) is also available in the library reading room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were deposited at the Bodleian Library by Sir Roy Welensky in December 1977, after they had been worked on by Dr. J.R.T. Wood in production of The Welensky papers. a history of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Durban, Graham Publishing, 1983). They were transferred to the Bodleian in [c1990], and their legal basis altered in [1994] from deposit to donation. Additional material, comprising alphabetical and other correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks and photograph albums, were transferred to the library by Lady Welensky in [1992].

Related Materials

Typescript of taperecorded interview with Reginald Maudling, 1968, including impressions of Welensky (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 484); the library also holds Welensky correspondence, 1960s, on microfilm, copied from originals held by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a memorandum to Welensky from S.F. Turner containing suggestions for the partition of Northern Rhodesia, 1961.

Correspondence between Welensky and Lord Salisbury, [c1960s-1972] is held in the library and archives of the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House; these are, however, subject to a 50 year closure period.


  • The Welensky Papers. A History of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland by J.R.T. Wood (Durban, Graham Publishing, 1983); The road to Zimbabwe. 1890-1980 (CHECK)by Anthony Verrier (London, Cape, 1986); A history of Rhodesia (CHECK) by Robert Blake (London, Eyre Methuen, 1977).
Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky, KCMG
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom