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Samuel Finer Papers

Date range: 1948–93.

Papers of Samuel Finer (1915–93), successively Professor of Local Government and Administration at Keele, 1950–66, Professor of Government at Manchester, 1966–74, and Gladstone Professor of Government and Public Administration and fellow of All Souls, Oxford, 1974–82. 

The collection comprises:

  • research notes, background material and drafts for Professor Finer’s monumental The History of Government from the Earliest Times (Oxford University Press, 1997), of which one enthusiastic reviewer wrote, ‘It is likely to be read as long as Aristotle’;1 and typescript and manuscript drafts and notes of earlier publications
  • lecture notes
  • files of research notes and articles on various aspects of the history of government
  • offprints and copies of articles and papers by Finer and others

The collection is highly significant for studies of the history of government and historiography.

Anon., ‘Simply the Best’ [review of The History of Government From the Earliest Times by S.E. Finer], The Economist, 18 October 1997, pp. S4–5. A more critical assessment of Finer’s work is provided by George E. Von der Muhll, ‘Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Study of Government’, Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 6 (2003), pp. 345–76.

Finding aids

Unpublished accession list.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library