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LSE history

This page indicates the range of archival sources held by the Library which relate to the history of the School. You will also find answers to the common questions we are asked about LSE history and our archival collections that support research in this area. 

Documents that form the core institutional archive of LSE

  • Administrative files on matters such as academic policy, finance, organisation, buildings, publications and external relations, 1895- (reference: LSE/CENTRAL FILING REGISTRY)
  • Articles of association, printed reports, calendars, photographs, students' union papers - including The Beaver and Clare Market review - and other papers, 1895- (LSE/UNREGISTERED). Issues of The Beaver, 1949-2008 are available via the Digital Library.
  • The minutes of School Committees, 1894 onwards (these are listed on the archives catalogue, LSE/MINUTES)

What records are available for the study of LSE history?

LSE has a rich and extensive archive recording its history and development. The archives includes committee minutes, subject files, photographs, staff and student files. These are complemented by the archives of some LSE Directors, staff and students.

LSE History Project

A useful starting point for researching the School's history are the research papers collated for Ralf Dahrendorf's book, LSE : a history of the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895-1995. Topics covered include the history of academic departments, LSE Directors, academic staff and significant events. They usually contain copies of material from the School's archives, articles and press cuttings.

Smaller LSE deposits

There is also a collection of small deposits relating to the history of the School, mainly deposited by alumni or former members of staff. Documents include lecture notes, papers relating to student societies, ephemera (such as leaflets) and material relating to the Troubles.

Additional papers relating to LSE

Papers relating to LSE can be found in other archive collections, particularly among the archives of former staff who have deposited their files in the Library. For example, the papers of William Beveridge (Director of the School, 1919-37) contain much about LSE. Some of these items are available online:

  • Welcome addresses to new students, 1921-36 (BEVERIDGE/5/10)
  • "Origin of social biology in the School of Economics", memo by Beveridge regarding grants from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, 16 July 1935 (BEVERIDGE/5/3)
  • "Reflections on the School of Economics", memo by Beveridge, 30 October 1935 (BEVERIDGE/5/4)

The papers of LSE founders, Sidney and Beatrice Webb (the Passfield collection), also contain much about LSE. Beatrice's diaries are available via the Digital Library.

Additional papers include:

  • Early papers of the Library comprising appeals for books and funds, accounts and reports of the Library and the School, 1896-1908 (COLL MISC 0529)
  • LSE Students' Union Minute books, 1903-76 (COLL MISC 0649)
  • Reminiscences of former students, staff and governors collected as a result of a questionnaire circulated in 1943 (SR 1101)
  • LSE Students' Union papers, 1973-96 (LSE/STUDENTS UNION)

Exam papers

In our archive we hold an incomplete set of printed exam papers up to 1994.

How do I find out about my relative who attended LSE?

Covering the period 1895 - 1932, the Register is a good starting point for basic information about LSE students and staff during the early years of the School. It is available as part of the LSE archive collection.

The LSE Calendar provides information about students who graduated or obtained certificates. It also contains annual lists of staff. It is available in the LSE Library journal collection at LF449.L9.

We are also able to issue historic staff and student files of deceased individuals but proof of death (eg copy of the death certificate or copy of an obituary) is normally required. [Contact us] for further information. 

How can I find out when a discipline or department started?

Check departments' own About Us pages on the website as they may contain useful information. Otherwise, you can use the LSE Calendar. It is available in the LSE Library journal collection at LF449.L9. Contact us for more information.

What was taught on the various courses? 

The content of LSE courses can be found in the LSE Calendar available in the LSE Library journal collection at LF449.L9.

How can I find out about LSE buildings

Introductory information is available from the Estates Division and additional information can be found in the Campus History Guide.

How can I find a photograph of a person, building or event? 

Publicly available images related to LSE and its history should be viewed through our Flickr account where there are various albums of free to use images. LSE's photographer also has an account for more contemporary images.

Other images may be available but restrictions will often be in place. You should search the archives catalogue for these. 

How was LSE founded?

LSE opened its doors in 1895. The key individuals involved were members of the Fabian Society: Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw. To read the full story and learn more about the history of LSE you should view the main About pages. You can also view and interact with a historical timeline and blog.

How do I find out about LSE Students' Union?

In our archives we hold the following resources that support research on the Students' Union:

  • LSE Students' Union Minute book, 1903-76 (COLL MISC 0649)
  • LSE Students' Union papers, 1973-96 (LSE/STUDENTS UNION)

You can also view issues of The Beaver, 1949 - 2011 on LSE Digital Library. For further information you might like to contact the Students' Union.

What were the LSE Troubles? 

Student unrest in the late 1960s was widespread across the world and particularly in the UK and USA. LSE was not immune to such unrest and the following two stories from the BBC provide some context to the LSE Troubles. 

1969: LSE closes over student clashes

1969: Rebel students take over LSE

You can also search The Beaver to see how the student reporters viewed the events. 

How can I find out about the careers of LSE academics?

Many LSE staff deposit their papers in the Library and these can be traced via the archives catalogue.

Contact us

If you have any further questions or need information not available on this page then please get in contact with us so that we can advise you further. 

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