Royal Historical Society Archive

The Society has a small but important archive collection which charts the membership and rise of the historical profession, in the UK, over the 19th and 20th centuries. The archive is divided into four collections, each of which has its own catalogue:

Each of these collections are housed in the RHS offices at University College London, and are available for consultation by prior arrangement; priority is given to members of the Society at busy times. For enquiries about the collections, please contact:

Papers from the Society’s George W. Prothero collection.


1. George W. Prothero Papers

The archive’s principal collection relates to the historian, editor and government adviser, George W. Prothero (1848-1922), who was Professor of History at Edinburgh, from 1894, and President of the Royal Historical Society between 1901 and 1905.

In January 2022, the RHS published a new 250-page catalogue to its Prothero collection, which includes personal and professional correspondence, working papers and manuscripts covering the 1860s to the early 1920s. A selection of images from the collection is also available.

EXTENT: 20 boxes

The Prothero Papers catalogue is arranged in 7 series, each covering a different aspect of G.W. Prothero’s life and work:

  • Series 1, PP/1: Personal correspondence, 1886-1922.
  • Series 2, PP/2: Subject files, 1866-1921, including papers relating to Prothero’s early academic career and publications; among them his papers relating to the British Academy and Presidency of the Royal Historical Society.
  • Series 3, PP/3: Correspondence relating to the First World War and its aftermath, 1914-1922, with British, European and American correspondents.
  • Series 4, PP/4: Papers relating to historical studies c.1871-1914, including undergraduate and other notebooks, notes for his Creighton Lectures on Napoleon III, and manuscripts on contemporary international relations.
  • Series 5, PP/5: Papers relating to the Bibliography of Modern British History including correspondence, notes on British and foreign libraries and archives.
  • Series 6, PP/6: Printed papers including newspaper cuttings, scrapbook and articles.
  • Series 7, PP/7: Papers relating to the deposit of the Prothero collection with the Royal Historical Society.

You can read more about recent work to re-catalogue and conserve Prothero’s papers, as well as view a selection of images from the seven series.


2. Camden Society Papers, 1838-1897

In June 2022, the RHS published a new 97-page catalogue to its Camden Society Papers collection, which includes administrative papers relating to the management of the Camden Society’s publishing programme of primary historical sources. The collection covers the period to the Camden Society’s merger with the Royal Historical Society, after which the RHS took on responsibility for publishing the Camden Series of scholarly editions.

EXTENT: 5 boxes

The Camden Society catalogue is arranged in 4 series, covering a different aspect of the Society’s work:

  • Ref: CS/1: Papers relating to minute books.
  • Ref: CS/2: Administrative papers.
  • Ref: CS/3: Correspondence.
  • Ref: CS/4: Miscellaneous research materials.



3. Royal Historical Society Papers, 1868-2010s

In October 2022, the RHS published a new 165-page catalogue to its Royal Historical Society Collection Papers, which includes items relating to administration, governance, committee structure, financing, membership, events and activities of the Society from its foundation in 1868 to the 2010s.

EXTENT: 29 boxes, 142 bound volumes, 36 framed photographs and drawings

The RHS Collection catalogue is arranged in 14 series, each covering a different aspect of the Society’s organisation and work:

  • Ref: RHS/1: Minutes, agenda and attendance books of Council and various Committee meetings.
  • Ref: RHS/2: Financial and administrative records.Ref: RHS/3. Correspondence and related papers.
  • Ref: RHS/3: Correspondence and related papers.
  • Ref: RHS/4: Research materials and deposited manuscripts.
  • Ref: RHS/5: Fellowship, Associate and membership records.
  • Ref: RHS/6: British National Committee papers.
  • Ref: RHS/7: Invitations, lecture cards, meeting cards, Session cards, By-law booklets, prospectuses and other printed material.
  • Ref: RHS/8: Printed circular notices and information booklets issued by the Society.
  • Ref: RHS/9: Newsletters and Letters from the President.
  • Reg: RHS/10: Offprints and photocopies of reviews of Studies in History articles.
  • Ref: RHS/11: Drawings and photographs.
  • Ref: RHS/12: Card index of Royal Historical Officers.
  • Ref: RHS/13: Maps and plans.
  • Ref: RHS/14: Signage.

In addition, application records are available for RHS Fellows from 1887, providing biographical details and insights into professional associations of historians elected to the Society in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Other records relating to the Society are included in the papers of Charles Rogers (1825-1890), who founded the RHS in 1868 and served (controversially) as its secretary until forced to resign in 1881.



4. Geoffrey Elton Papers, and other named collections

In August 2022, the RHS published a new 63-page catalogue to its Geoffrey Elton collection, which includes personal and professional correspondence, relating to the literary works and estate of Geoffrey Elton (1922-1994), historian and President of the Society (1973-77).

EXTENT: 18 boxes

The Geoffrey Elton catalogue is arranged in 4 series:

  • ELT/1: Correspondence with the Royal Historical Society
  • ELT/2: Correspondence and other papers concerning published works written or edited by G. R. Elton
  • ELT/3: Correspondence and other papers relating to articles and reviews
  • ELT/4: Concerning publications written or edited by G. R. Elton

Other smaller named collections held by the Society include:

  • Papers of Samuel Rawson Gardiner (1829-1902), historian: transcripts of publications and some personal correspondence
  • Papers of Frederick Solly Flood (1801-1888), diplomat: unpublished manuscripts
  • Records of the British National Committee of the International Committee of Historical Sciences: correspondence etc, 1972-1993