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Archive of (James) Harold Wilson


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The papers fall into the following series: Labour Party Political Office, 1938-1989; Civil Service Private Office, 1964-1976; Personal and assorted non-offcial papers, 1886-1987; Photographs and artwork.


  • Creation: 1886-1989


200.97 Linear metres (1827 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, where available, e.g. MS. Wilson c. 1].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Wilson a. 1-13, b. 1-12, c. 1-1737, d. 1-65

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 9902


The papers of (James) Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995), statesman.

Biographical / Historical

Harold Wilson (1916-1995) was born and brought up in Huddersfield and, latterly, the Wirral. He won a history exhibition at Jesus College, Oxford but switched to PPE, obtaining a first. He was elected a junior research fellow of University College in 1938, after working with its master, William Beveridge for a year. At the beginning of World War 2 Wilson joined the temporary civil service, his statistical and administative skill being quickly recognized and leading to an appointment in the department of mines, part of the Board of Trade. He married (Gladys) Mary Wilson (b.1916) in 1940. He stood as a Labour candidate in 1945 and won at Ormskirk. He became one of the youngest cabinet ministers, as President of the Board of Trade from 1947 until 1951. In 1950 he fought and won the Huyton seat, which he retained until his resignation from the Commons in 1983.

Wilson was shadow Chancellor 1955-1961, and shadow Foreign Secretary 1961-1963. In February 1963 he was elected leader of the Labour Party, following the death of Hugh Gaitskell. He led the Party to Government in the 1964 General Election, and was re-elected in 1966, then losing to Edward Heath in 1970. He regained the premiership in March 1974 and retained it once again in October 1974. He resigned as Prime Minister in April 1976, shortly after his 60th birthday. He was created Baron Wilson of Rievaulx in 1983, and died in 1995.

For a fuller biography of Wilson, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


Most material is arranged chronogically or alphabetically according to the original order of the series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive was given by Lord Wilson in December 1993.

Catalogue of the archive of (James) Harold Wilson, 1886-1989
Finding aid prepared by Monica Halpin
1998, EAD version 2016
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom