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Correspondence and papers, of Arthur Greenwood and Arthur William James ('Anthony') Greenwood, Baron Greenwood of Rossendale


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Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954):

Some of Greenwood's papers were destroyed when the House of Commons was bombed in 1941 and consequently some periods of his career are not well represented in the archive. The papers are mainly arranged in chronological sections reflecting the different phases of Greenwood's career. The first section (A1) contains appointment diaries, followed by papers concerning (A2) his early life, (A3) the Civil Service, 1916-20, (A4) the Labour Party, 1920-54, (A5) his time as MP for Nelson and Colne, 1922-31, (A6) the Ministry of Health, 1924 and 1929-31, (A7) his time as MP for Wakefield, 1932-54, and (A8) the Cabinet, 1940-2 and 1945-7 (only a few leaves survive from Greenwood's time in the Attlee Cabinet). These are followed by (A9) speeches and literary papers, (A10) family correspondence and papers, (A11) photographs and newscuttings, (A12) printed material and memorabilia and (A13) papers concerning memoirs and proposed biographies.

Arthur William James ('Anthony') Greenwood (1911-1982):

The papers are mainly arranged in chronological sections reflecting the different phases of Greenwood's career. The first section (B1) contains appointment diaries, followed by papers concerning (B2) his early life, 1911-39, (B3) war service, 1939-46, (B4) the Labour Party, 1925-82, (B5) time as MP for Heywood and Radcliffe, 1946-50, and Rossendale, 1950-70, (B6) the Colonial Office, 1964-5, and Ministry of Overseas Development, 1965-6, (B7) the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, 1966-70, and (B8) the House of Lords, 1970-82. These are followed by sections concerning (B9) business, public service and charitable activities, (B10) speeches, broadcasts and literary papers, (B11) family and personal papers, (B12) photographs and newscuttings, (B13) printed material and memorabilia and (B14) biographical material. The final section (B15) is a box of papers belonging to Charles Reiss, a friend of the family.


  • Creation: 1846-1995


30.00 Linear metres (277 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. Eng. a. 2029, fols. 1-2].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. a. 2029, c. 6175-6368, 6386-6395, d. 2974-3001, 3004-3006, e. 3091-3110, Photogr. b. 24-25, c. 85-103, d. 24-25

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12140


Correspondence and papers, 1846-1995, of Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954) and Anthony Greenwood, Baron Greenwood of Rossendale (1911-82), Labour politicians and Cabinet ministers.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954):

Arthur Greenwood was born in Leeds, the eldest son of William Greenwood, a painter and decorator. He attended local schools, became a pupil teacher and won a scholarship to the Yorkshire College which was part of Victoria (later Leeds) University. After graduating he taught in several schools, became head of the economics and law department at Huddersfield Technical College and then, in 1913, lecturer in economics at the University of Leeds. During the 1913 Leeds Municipal Strike Greenwood actively supported the strikers in opposition to the university authorities. He became active in the local Labour Party and Workers' Educational Association and wrote widely on child labour and educational issues.

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War Greenwood moved to London as general secretary of the Council for the Study of International Relations. From January 1916 to March 1919 he was editor of The Athenaeum. In 1916 he joined the civil service as an assistant secretary in the Reconstruction Committee which, in August 1917, was replaced by the Ministry of Reconstruction. Greenwood worked for the Committee on Relations between Employers and Employed - the Whitley Committee - and, together with R.H. Tawney, largely wrote the Education Committee's reports on adult education. In February 1920 he became vice-chairman of the Consultative Committee on General Health Questions which reported on the main deficiencies in the existing medical and allied services.

In 1920 Greenwood left the civil service to become secretary of the Labour Party Research Department, a position which he held until 1943. In this capacity he contributed to the development of Labour Party policy and legislative proposals. He was secretary to the Cost of Living Committee, a joint committee of the Labour Party, the Parliamentary Committee, the Co-Operative Movement, the Trades Union Congress and various trade federations, and to the Labour Commission to Ireland which published a report in 1921. He drafted a policy report on unemployment which was considered by a special conference in 1921. He represented the Labour Party on the Standing Committee on Trusts, which investigated prices and combines in various industries, and gave evidence to the Royal Commissions on Food Prices and on the Coal Industry.

In the 1918 General Election Greenwood stood unsuccessfully for Southport; in 1922 he was elected for Nelson and Colne. In the 1924 Labour Government he became parliamentary secretary to John Wheatley, the Minister of Health, and their Housing Act was that Government's main domestic achievement. From 1929 to 1931 Greenwood was himself Minister of Health with responsibility for the 1929 Pensions Act and the 1930 Housing Act. He lost his seat in the 1931 General Election but was returned in a by-election the following year as member for Wakefield, which he continued to represent until his death.

In 1935 Greenwood was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party and spoke for the party in the House of Commons during Clement Attlee's illness in 1939. In May 1940 he entered the War Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and became chairman of the Economic Policy Committee and the Production Council which functioned for the rest of that year. From 1941 until his departure from the War Cabinet in February 1942 he chaired the Committee on Reconstruction Problems.

After the 1945 General Election he became Lord Privy Seal and from July 1946 to March 1947 was Paymaster General as well. From April to September 1947 he was Minister without Portfolio before being dropped from the Government. He was elected treasurer of the Labour Party every year from 1943 until his death and was chairman of the National Executive Committee in 1952-3.

In 1904 Greenwood married Catherine Ainsworth. They had one daughter, Kathleen, and one son, Anthony, who entered Parliament as a Labour member in 1946 and whose papers are also in the Bodleian.

Arthur William James ('Anthony') Greenwood(1911-82):

'Anthony' Greenwood was born in Leeds, the only son of Arthur Greenwood MP (whose papers are also in the Bodleian) and his wife Catherine Ainsworth. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and read politics, philosophy and economics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he became chairman of the Labour Club and, in 1933, president of the Oxford Union. He was a member of the British Universities' Debating Team which visited India in 1933.

After university his political activities continued and included freelance journalism and debating trips to the USA. He began, but did not complete, studies for the Bar at the Middle Temple. Early employment consisted of a spell as economic secretary to an industrialist and then, in 1938-9, work for the National Fitness Council.

From 1939 to 1942 Greenwood worked at the Ministry of Information where, in 1941, he became private secretary to the Director-General, Walter Monckton, with whom he travelled to Russia and the Middle East. In the summer of 1942 he joined the Royal Air Force and in February 1943 was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer. In December 1944 he was seconded to the War Cabinet Offices to work with Monckton on an inquiry into the Mulberry harbours.

Greenwood joined the Labour Party at the age of 14 and was a prospective candidate for Colchester before the war. He led the Labour group on Hampstead borough council from 1945 to 1949 and entered Parliament as member for Heywood and Radcliffe in a by-election in February 1946. Following boundary changes he moved to Rossendale constituency in 1950. He became vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party in 1950-1 and was in the Shadow Cabinet in 1951-2 and 1955-60. In 1961 he unsuccessfully challenged Hugh Gaitskell for the leadership but went on to serve as vice-chairman of the party in 1962-3 and chairman in 1963-4. He was persuaded to stand for the general secretaryship of the Labour Party in July 1968 but was defeated. He served on the National Executive Committee from 1954 to 1970.

Greenwood entered the Cabinet as Colonial Secretary in October 1964 where his main task was to oversee the move of colonies to independence status. In December 1965 he was transferred to the Ministry of Overseas Development and in August 1966 to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government where he authorised the creation of several new towns.

In May 1970 Greenwood was appointed to the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Development Corporation by Harold Wilson and consequently did not seek re-election to the Commons in the 1970 General Election. In July 1970 Edward Heath revoked the appointment. Greenwood was elevated to the House of Lords by Wilson in his resignation honours. From 1977 to 1979 he was Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities and Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees.

While in the Lords Greenwood held a number of business directorships in order to acquire an income. He remained a member of the Commonwealth Development Corporation board until 1978, was a Director of the Britannia Building Society from 1972 until his death and Chairman from 1974 to 1976, Chairman and a Director of Weeks Natural Resources (UK) Ltd., an oil exploration company, and Chairman of Greenwood Development Holdings Ltd. He was Chairman of Integrated Professional Development Service and a Director of Pochin Ltd. He also held several public service appointments, such as Chairman of the Local Government Training Board and Staff Commission, President of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, President of the District Heating Association, President of the Cremation Society, a member of the Maplin Development Authority board and Central Lancashire Development Corporation and became involved in several housing organisations. He was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lancaster from 1972 to 1978 and financial adviser for the University of Guyana's UK appeal. He became Chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association in 1972, was a Trustee of the Jerusalem Educational Trust and Chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel. He gave support to many charitable organisations.

In 1940 Greenwood married Gillian Crawshay-Williams (1910-95), a great-grand-daughter of Thomas Huxley, and they had two daughters.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to the Bodleian Library by Lady Greenwood in 1982. In 1998 Susanna Greenwood added her mother's papers (MSS. Eng. b. 2080, c. 6364-6368, d. 3001, 3004, e. 3110, Photogr. b. 25, c. 98-103, d. 25) to the collection.

Catalogue of the archive of Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954) and Arthur William James ('Anthony') Greenwood, Baron Greenwood of Rossendale (1911-82)
Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom