A traditional all school photo where a large group of people are seated and standing looking at the camera for a group photo.

LSE history

"Self-sacrifice for the good of the community is the greatest of all human characteristics" Beatrice Webb


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 online.
  • 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 Webb's diaries are available online.

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 online Register is a good starting point for basic information about LSE students and staff during the early years of the School. It is also available in print as part of the LSE archive collection.

The online LSE Calendar provides information about students who graduated or obtained certificates. It also contains annual lists of staff. Printed versions are 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 more 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 online LSE Calendar. It is also available in the LSE Library journal collection at LF449.L9. The LSE History blog includes articles on the foundations and early days of many of LSE's academic departments. Contact us for more information.

What was taught on the various courses? 

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

How can I find out about LSE buildings

The Campus History Guide is an illustrated history of LSE's buildings, while the LSE History blog features in-depth articles on a range of different places at LSE.

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 learn more about the origins and history of LSE, visit the LSE History 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 online. 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 read articles on the Troubles on the LSE History blog, and search The Beaver to see how the student reporters viewed the events. 

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

You can read about the careers of LSE staff and students on the LSE History blog. Many LSE staff deposit their papers in the Library and these can be traced via the archives catalogue.

LSE History Blog

Our LSE History Blog provides a comprehensive and engaging showcase of the School’s fascinating, and often hidden, history of people, places and events. It is also a growing repository of research based on our archives.

If you’re using LSE archives for a history project then do consider producing a blog post about your findings – it’s a great way of sharing a short, accessible introduction to your work. We recommend using our contributions policy to create your proposal before getting in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

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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