Fonds BBK - The Beaverbrook Papers

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Reference code



The Beaverbrook Papers


  • 1869-1976 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

13 series containing 4,197 files

Context area

Name of creator

Archival history

Acting on Beaverbrook's instructions, on the day of his death his son, Sir Max Aitken, and private financial secretary, George Millar, burnt a box of secret papers. In addition to this Sir Max and his sister Janet Kidd were given six months in which to take or destroy anything they wished before handing their father's papers over to the Beaverbrook Foundation for permanent preservation. It is not known whether they did so. Certainly much family correspondence and private papers remained. The papers were removed to a warehouse in Hays Wharf and then brought to the Beaverbrook Library in St Bride Street when it opened in 1967. Financial files kept by George Millar remained in his care and it can only be assumed that they were destroyed on his death.

In the library the Beaverbrook Papers were in the care of Rosemary Brooks, a former secretary, who appears to have spent much of the time transcribing extracts and rearranging the papers. In Beaverbrook's lifetime documents and files had been rearranged several times and some had been destroyed by him. Reorganisation continued until Rosemary Brooks's death in 1971. Just before the library closed in 1975, Sir Max Aitken paid a visit and took away a number of family correspondence files, mainly between Beaverbrook, himself and Janet and sixty one photograph albums. About eighty boxes of papers relating to newsprint, banks, trust funds and various petty litigations were destroyed on the orders of A J P Taylor, the Director of the Beaverbrook Library.

The papers were transferred from the Beaverbrook Library to the House of Lords Record Office on permanent deposit on 7 April 1975.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Beaverbrook Papers contain correspondence and a variety of papers, photographs and other images, maps and a few artefacts covering every aspect of the life and work of Lord Beaverbrook, politician and newspaper proprietor, from 1869 to 1972. They include general social and political correspondence and papers in England and in Canada covering Beaverbrook's early years in Canada including his financial dealings (BBK/A), his constituency correspondence as an MP, much detailed correspondence and papers on the Empire Crusade (BBK/B) and also special correspondence with prominent people including politicians, some artists and writers (BBK/C).

There are both private and official papers, including Cabinet Papers, and correspondence covering Beaverbrook's work for both the Canadian and British governments during the First World War ending in the nine month period he was Minister of Information. A large amount of material (BBK/D) is concerned with his activities during the Second World War covering his various ministries both in and out of Cabinet. Business papers include correspondence with newspaper editors, managers and other staff, correspondence and papers concerning financial arrangements, newsprint, cinema and film industry, various companies including Canada Cement and other Canadian Companies after 1910 and a number of trusts including the Beaverbrook Foundations.

Beaverbrook's working papers for most of his books have been kept and include numerous extracts and copies of original and secondary sources, some original documents, drafts and galley proofs (BBK/G). In addition there are some office memoranda and secretarial files. Beaverbrook's private business and financial papers relate to all the properties he owned - houses, farms, yachts, caravan and racing stables (BBK/J) and there are personal correspondence with family and friends, school records, engagement diaries, visitors' and wine cellar books, petty cash books, medical records, film and tapes of various commemorative occasions (BBK/K). Press cutting books contain newspaper articles about Beaverbrook and those written by him (BBK/L) and there are some photographs and a few prints selected from various sources (BBK/P).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The Beaverbrook Papers are arranged in 13 series as follows:

BBK/A Canadian Correspondence and Papers
BBK/B English General Correspondence
BBK/C Special Persons Correspondence
BBK/D World War Two
BBK/E World War One
BBK/F Campaigns, Propaganda and Speeches
BBK/G Material for Publications
BBK/H Newspaper and Business Correspondence
BBK/I Office and Secretarial Files
BBK/J Private and Personal Business Papers
BBK/K Personal Papers and Family Correspondence
BBK/L Press Cuttings
BBK/P Photographs and Other Images

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Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Latin

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Related units of description

See also the Beaverbrook Library Papers at BBL

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Archivist's note

Roland Sczok, FUB

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