The Papers of Lionel Robbins

Diaries written by Lionel Robbins giving an account of the negotiations of the Hot Springs (1943) and Bretton Woods (1944) conferences.

Lionel Robbins

The Papers of Lionel Robbins (1898 - 1984) is a collection of material relating to the life and work of Lionel Robbins which has been catalogued with the support of the LSE Annual Fund.

The collection contains a variety of types of material: correspondence; diaries; minutes of meetings; reports; photographs; notebooks and lecture notes; and poems and plays. The material in the collection represents the variety of interests which Lionel Robbins had throughout his life including: his teaching career; his work as an economist; his interest in the arts; his work for the Government during the Second World War; his work in education policy and development; and his life as a husband, father and friend.

For further biographical information on Lionel Robbins please see the archive catalogue description and the online exhibition.

Hot Springs and Bretton Woods diaries

In June 1940 Lionel Robbins accepted a post as chief economic assistant in the Office of the War Cabinet and was given leave from his work at LSE. From September 1941 he was Head of the Economic Section. He became involved in the planning of post-war economic recovery and in 1943 was part of the British delegation to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, known as the Hot Springs conference. This was seen as the tester for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference on post-war economic recovery, better known as Bretton Woods which was held the following year.

Lionel Robbins was part of both these British delegations and of two more government missions to the USA and his Papers include his diaries from these trips to America. As part of the Economic Section of the War Cabinet Lionel Robbins played a key part in these conferences and his diaries give us a day-to-day insight into the negotiations taking place. The main purpose of the Hot Springs and Bretton Woods diaries was to provide a detailed, and confidential, account of the proceedings of the conferences to supplement the brief telegrams which were being sent back and forth between London and America.

The Bretton Woods diaries have already been published as part of The Wartime Diaries of Lionel Robbins and James Meade, 1943-45, edited by Susan Howson and Donald Moggridge, Macmillan, 1990. This is the first time that they have been available online.

It was at Bretton Woods that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) were established. As a result of his contributions to the conference Lionel Robbins was invited to be part of an Advisory Council for the IBRD. There are diaries covering his attendance at meetings of this council in 1948 and 1949.

In this collection...