It’s often asserted that the Marshall Library is a teaching library and, during Full Term, this is undoubtedly the case. To suggest, however, that it is solely a teaching library belies the contributions made – and being made – by it’s extensive and eclectic collections of archives and rare books to the work of the numerous researchers who visit the Marshall from all over the World. The majority of these visits occur during vacation and illustrate the way in which the focus of the library changes from teaching to research support with archival enquires, supervision and scanning occupying proportionately more staff time.
The Marshall Library archives consist primarily of the notes, correspondence and photographs of Professor Alfred Marshall (22 boxes) and Professor Austin Robinson (108 boxes). Other Cambridge economists – Pigou, Foxwell and Jevons – are also represented together with extensive lecture notes produced by various undergraduates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. There are also some surprises. Mary Marshall, Alfred’s wife and economist in her own right, was also an accomplished water colourist and the collection includes numerous portfolios of her work. Austin Robinson became a pilot during the First World War and flew flying boats with the Royal Naval Air Service and later with Shorts Brothers as a test pilot. He was a keen photographer his archives contain hundreds of unique photographs early aircraft and airships.
Mary Paley's watercolour album
Photos from Austin Robinson's papers
Accompanying these archival materials are many thousands of
rare books which originated from the working collections of Marshall, Keynes
and other prominent Cambridge economists. Many of these contain significant
amounts of marginalia or inter-lea
ved notes. Again, there are surprises. An inscription in one tome indicates that it was retrieved Herman Goering’s personal train at Berchtesgaden in 1945 and was donated to the library by Nicholas Kaldor who, at the time, was Chief of the Economic Planning Staff of the US Strategic Bombing Survey.
Nicholas KaldorFor many years these archival collections were poorly organised and widely distributed throughout the Faculty of Economics until, in the late 1990s, the then Marshall Librarian, Rowland Thomas, secured funding from the National Bank of Italy for an archivist to undertake their organization and cataloguing. At the same time the rare books were subject to a programme of retrospective cataloguing in order to make them more accessible and to highlight any notable annotations.
The simple expedient of uploading pdf files of the newly created archival catalogues to the Marshall Library website in the early 2000s garnered considerable interest amongst economic historians worldwide and material in the archives has been used in the production of at least sixteen books ranging from biographies of Marshall, Pigou and Fay to books about flying boats in the Royal Naval Air Service. The most recent publication we’ve provided assistance with is Economics of Visual Art: Market Practice and Market Resistance / Amy Whitaker (2021). We’ve also identified numerous chapters in books and journal articles that have been produced using resources in the Marshall archives.
The Marshall Library has never really been solely a teaching library. The dichotomy between its teaching and research responsibilities has always been there and it’s what continues to make it an interesting place in which to work.