RHS 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.

Each of the following 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: administration@royalhistsoc.org.

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


The George W. Prothero Collection

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.

The collection, which runs to more than 1000 items, is housed at the Society’s office at UCL and available for consultation.

The new online catalogue is arranged in 7 series, each covering a different aspect of 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.


Camden Society Papers, 1838-1897

This collection includes records relating to the Camden Society from its foundation to its merger with the RHS in the late 1890s. The Camden papers include minute books and records of the Society’s publication of early historical documents.

Work on a new online catalogue of the Camden Society collection will begin in early 2022, with more details announced later this year.



Papers relating to the Royal Historical Society, from 1868

The Society’s own institutional record is covered in an extensive series of minute books, rolls of fellows, treasurers’ books and correspondence. The RHS also holds runs of event cards, providing details of lectures and speakers, dating from the early 1900s.

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.

As with the Camden Society papers, the RHS collection is currently being catalogued in early 2022, with a new online catalogue and storage available shortly.



The Geoffrey Elton Papers and other named collections

The Society’s major late-20th century holding is the correspondence of the Tudor historian, Sir Geoffrey Elton (1921-1994), who was RHS President between 1973 and 1977. The Elton collection covers papers relating to his publications and literary estate.

Other smaller named collections held by the RHS 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

New online catalogues for each of these collections, including a revised version of the existing Elton catalogue, will be written and made available online in 2022.