Birkbeck Library > Using the Library > The Sir Bernard Crick Archive Project

The Professor Sir Bernard Crick Archive

‘.....for the object of all adult education should be to stimulate thought’
(Sir Bernard Crick, Voluntary Services Overseas lecture, Glasgow, 2006)

The papers of Professor Sir Bernard Rowland Crick, foundation professor of politics at Birkbeck College 1971-1984, were donated to the College by his family after his death in December 2008. With financial support from the School of Politics and Sociology, the Faculty of Lifelong Learning, the Library, and the College Development Fund, the archive has now been catalogued by a professional archivist.

Who was Sir Bernard Crick?
What is in the collection?
How was the collection processed?
Accessing the collection
Further Information

Who was Sir Bernard Crick?

  • Bernard Rowland Crick was born in London, 1929. He gained a first in Economics at University College London (UCL), and completed his doctorate (1950-1952) on ‘The Origins and conditions of the American Science of Politics’ at the London School of Economics (LSE).

  • Bernard went to America and taught in a number of universities, including Harvard (1952-1954), McGill, Montreal (1954-1955), and Berkeley, California (1955-1956). He returned to the UK in 1956 and taught at the London School of Economics (LSE) as assistant lecturer, and later senior lecturer
  • He published one of his key texts, ‘In Defence of Politics’ in 1962 in which he outlined his views of politics.
  • In 1965 he was appointed Professor of political theory and institutions at Sheffield University. He became the foundation professor of politics at Birkbeck College in 1971, setting up the school at number 10 Gower Street.
  • Bernard sat and chaired a number of committees including the Political Studies Association, and Hansard Society. He was a political advisor in the Northern Ireland Constitutional convention 1974, and Chairman of the British-South Africa Conference. He was joint editor of the Political Quarterly from 1966-1980.
  • In 1997 he became chairman of the Advisory group on Education for Citizenship and the teaching of Democracy in Schools, and later advised the Labour government on devising the citizenship tests for immigrants to the UK
  • In the late 1970's Crick embarked on a biography of George Orwell which was published in 1980. This can be accessed on-line:
  • He was knighted in the 2002 New Year’s honours list for "services to citizenship in schools and to political studies".
  • Sir Bernard was married three times and had two sons from his first marriage to Joyce Morgan, a senior lecturer in German at University College.
  • He took early retirement in 1984 to live in Edinburgh, and died there in December 2008.
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What is in the collection?


The collection arrived in 4 metal filing cabinets- 16 drawers of files, as well as a further 13 storage boxes and a large metal trunk, entitled ‘Bernard Student Stuff’.

Now the collection has been repackaged it amounts to 100 archive boxes, and several hundred archive files.

The collection is currently being stored in storage areas of  Birkbeck Library, Malet Street, London.


Crick Collection


The collection has been arranged into 6 series of records:

Family and Personal: School certificates, appointment diaries, and biographical information, 1944-1970's.

Correspondence: Personal and professional with a number of academics, politicians, artists, students, family and friends from the 1940's until Bernard Crick's death in 2008.

Politics, Societies and Associations: Papers covering Bernard's political and educational interests including the Labour Party and Citizenship education, as well as his advisory positions and chairmanships of a number of associations, 1960-2007.

Tours and Conferences: Lecture drafts, notes and conference agendas for organisations both in and outside of the UK, many concerning tours in the United States, 1970-2004.

Literary: Manuscripts, cuttings, publishers correspondence, and drafts of key texts, 1950's -2000.

George Orwell Biography: Research notes, interviews and cuttings relating to the biography of George Orwell that Bernard Crick wrote in the 1970s.


Crick Archive Boxes

How was the collection processed?

(1) The collection was surveyed. This meant establishing what was in the collection by creating a box/file list of titles, and then assessing what needed to be done to preserve these files (i.e what boxes and folders would be most suitable, did the files need specialist cleaning or other treatment etc)

(2) The collection was arranged firstly by thinking about how Sir Bernard kept and arranged his records, and how best to make the collection an accessible resource for you to use, whilst also maintaining the original order. A total of 6 series were created to reflect his interests and record keeping activities.

(3) The collection was catalogued and repackaged. This involved looking at the content of the collection and describing the records within each file. Records were removed from their files and put into archival quality folders and boxes. The cataloguing was done in accordance with internationally recognised archival standards.

Accessing the collection:

The catalogue to the papers is available  via this link to the Archives Hub web site which enables researchers to search the catalogues of hundreds of collections in UK universities and colleges.

Initial enquiries about the collection, and access to it, should be made to the subject librarian(s) for the School of Politics, please email

Please note that there may be some delay in answering enquiries about the collection, as it is not currently stored at the main Birkbeck library site. Researchers should consult the catalogue in the first instance.

Further Information:

Archives and Research: For general information about Archives and how to use them in your research, see the ARTS (Archival Research Techniques and skills) website:

The National Register of Archives (NRA), details where the records of individuals, families and organisations are kept in the UK:

For information about the archive collections of UK universities and colleges, please visit and for collections specifically in London and the M25 area, please visit

Sir Bernard Crick: Obituaries (December 2008)