Guardian (formerly Manchester Guardian) Archive
Date range: 1821-1970s
Number of items:
The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor (1791-1844) in 1821, two years after the Peterloo Massacre. Under the editorship of the legendary Charles Prestwich Scott (1846-1932), it was transformed from an essentially provincial journal into a newspaper of national and international standing - reflected in its change of name to the Guardian in 1959.
Its archive dates from the newspaper’s foundation to the early 1970s, just after its move to London; later material is held at the Guardian News and Media Archive in London.
The correspondence and dispatches in the archive form an outstanding source for almost every aspect of late 19th- and 20th-century history, from the Boer War to Vietnam. There is also a very full set of records relating to the newspaper as a business.
The Guardian archive is not fully catalogued, and the current organization of finding aids is complex. The original arrangement of the archive divided into two main sections, which are described below. The original catalogues for these two sections have been digitized and are available as PDF documents.
Part 1 comprises four main areas:
- Records relating to the newspaper as a business, such as staff and employment records, financial records, circulation and distribution records, legal documents, and records relating to the production of the newspaper.
- C. P. Scott’s ‘General Correspondence’: nearly 4,400 letters exchanged with a wide range of figures, including leading statesmen and politicians, writers, journalists and many others. Letters from this sequence relating to the Boer War and to Women's Suffrage have more detailed descriptions in the relevant guides listed above.
- ‘Additional Correspondence’ of Alfred Powell Wadsworth (1891-1956), editor of the Guardian during 1944-1956.
- Foreign correspondence, 1912-1939: an extensive collection of letters and dispatches from Manchester Guardian's European correspondents, with a particular focus on the period 1933-1939 and the run-up to the Second World War. A much more detailed catalogue of this correspondence has now been compiled and is also available online via ELGAR.
Part 2 comprises the ‘Editorial Correspondence’, spanning almost 90 years, and includes the following sections:
- ‘A Series’: Editorial Correspondence of C. P. Scott (editor during the period 1872-1929). A much more detailed catalogue of this correspondence is now available online via ELGAR.
- ‘B Series’: Editorial Correspondence of William Percival Crozier (editor during 1932-1944) and Alfred Powell Wadsworth (editor during 1944-1956).
- ‘C Series’: Editorial Correspondence of Alastair Hetherington (1956-1975).
- ‘D Series’: Editorial Correspondence of Patrick Monkhouse, deputy editor, largely dating from the 1950s-60s.
- ‘E Series’: Papers relating to the Manchester Guardian and the First World War comprising correspondence between C.P. Scott and wide range of correspondents, 1914-1921. A much more detailed catalogue of this correspondence is now available online via ELGAR.
In addition to the Editorial Correspondence of C. P. Scott and the European Foreign Correspondence referred to above, online catalogues of further sections of the archive are also available via ELGAR as follows:
- Collection-Level Overview.
- W. P. Crozier's Confidential Foreign Affairs Correspondence (1933-1944).
- Correspondence of Morgan Philips Price (1941-1964).
- Papers relating to the Manchester Guardian and First World War.
Some parts of the archive remain uncatalogued.
In addition, the Library has created several research guides which provide more detailed information about particular subjects and themes represented in the archive:
- Changing Faces. This guide provides information about researching Guardian staff members.
- Sources for the Boer War
- Sources for Women's Suffrage
- Guide to the Foreign Correspondence
See also Peter McNiven, 'The Guardian Archives in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 74 (1992), pp. 65-84.
Guardian News and Media Archive, London, which looks after the more recent archives of the newspaper.