The Humanitarian Archive

Date range: 1960 – present

The Humanitarian Archive is a unique partnership between The University of Manchester Library and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.

Photo of Elizabeth Wilson
From 'The Elizabeth Wilson Collection', The University of Manchester Library

The purpose of the archive is to provide a permanent home for the endangered private papers of humanitarians, the archives of small humanitarian organisations, and cultural artefacts associated with humanitarian work from the 1960s onwards.

We are currently seeking to expand the humanitarian-related special collections we have in our realm. While contemporary definitions of humanitarianism centre on overseas aid, war and natural disasters, the term has a broader definition that will help us think about our nineteenth- and early twentieth-century collections.

Our existing collections focus on poverty in the Manchester area, the nineteenth-century anti-slavery campaigns, missionary activity and disability rights.

Current deposits

We have secured the following deposits to the archive:

Tony Redmond (1980s - 2010s)

The private papers of Professor Tony Redmond cover the period between the Armenian Earthquake in 1988 and the establishment of UK Med and its role in the response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

These private papers were used in the doctoral thesis of Jenny Chapman, ‘The Politics of British Medical Humanitarian Aid: NGOs, the State and the Military, 1988-2014’ (University of Manchester, 2020), and are the basis of Tony Redmond’s autobiographical account, Frontline: Saving Lives in War, Disaster and Disease (Manchester: HarperNorth, 2021).

UK-Med (1988 - present)

UK-Med archives are a live archive. For more details on UK-Med please see their website:

UK-Med have been responding to emergencies around the world since 1988, when a team of eight Manchester clinicians led by its founder Prof. Tony Redmond, went to Armenia in aid of those who had been hit by a devastating earthquake. When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, killing over 11,000 people, 150 NHS clinicians were recruited, trained and sent to work in treatment centres alongside local health workers to help bring the outbreak under control.

UK-Med have trained over 1100 UK clinicians to deploy overseas, representing a huge global resource and benefiting their roles within the NHS. They have deployed clinicians following 12 large-scale natural and man-made disasters, treating patients in emergencies in Armenia, Iran, China, Haiti, Nepal, Cape Verde Islands, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Gaza, the Kurdish refugee crisis and the siege of Sarajevo. In addition, they have delivered training to thousands of healthcare workers in local and regional medical teams in Sierra Leone, South Sudan, China, Malawi, Myanmar, Armenia and Uganda.

Elizabeth Wilson, John Wilson (1943 – 2020)

These papers and photographic archives represent the diaries and private papers of Hudfam founder, pacifist and Oxfam activist, Elizabeth Wilson (1909-2000).

These papers complement a deposit previously made to the Kirklees Archive Service. The main significance of this deposit is in the wealth of images collected between 1960 and 1990.


  1. 2020, ‘Humanitaire provincial et internationalisme : Elizabeth Wilson et Hudfam, 1943-1990’ in  Histoire@Politique, published by Sciences Pos University Press
  2. 2019, ‘Demotic Humanitarians: Historical perspectives on the global reach of local initiatives', Third World Quarterly, 1781-1798,

The British mission in Saigon (1964 - 1973)

This collection of oral histories, documents and testimonials represent a unique window into British humanitarian work during the Vietnam war.

Other collections are currently being approached for depositing.

Existing humanitarian collections

Photo of notebooks
From 'The Elizabeth Wilson Collection', The University of Manchester Library

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library is home to a number of other archives in the field of humanitarianism. The Humanitarian Archive will build on the Library’s existing humanitarian collections encompassing work around poverty in the Manchester area, the nineteenth-century anti-slavery campaigns and disability rights, including:

Christian Brethren Archive (1820s – present)

Christian Brethren Archive’s missionary collections hold material relating to humanitarian activity from the mid-nineteenth century to the near present. The material is global in scope and chiefly relates to the development of education and health infrastructure and welfare provision to support their aims of religious conversion. Due to the global reach of their activities, examples can be found of intervention in all sorts of circumstances, such as in areas of war and conflict, natural disasters, and public health emergencies.


University archives and scientific collections

Anti-slavery and missionary

Race, migration and diversity


The University of Manchester Map Collection has covered a wide range of topics and geographies. The maps are more often used to support or aid research into humanitarian issues than explicitly about them. For example, an academic who was doing humanitarian work in Uganda used our maps and GIS to locate the best place to found amputee centres.

To donate or deposit material 

To find out more about donating or depositing collections in the Humanitarian Archive, please contact John Hodgson, Associate Director (Curatorial Practices).

To discuss the academic rationale for this new archive

To discuss how this archive will contribute to the scholarship of humanitarianism and humanitarian aid, please contact Professor Bertrand Taithe: