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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Secretary's In-correspondence
1828-1895, 1907-1919, 1920, 1926, 1931, 1953, 1958
Level of description
File level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
196 boxes and 1 oversized box or 19.8 m3


Name of creator(s)

King’s College London Secretary

Administrative / Biographical history

The King’s College London Secretary’s in-correspondence consists of the letters and papers received by the central administration of the College, 1828-1895.

The College Secretary is one of the senior administrative officers with responsibility for servicing College Council, its main standing and special subcommittees, and Academic Board. The College employed four Secretaries between 1828 and 1919: Henry Nelson Coleridge (1828); Henry William Smith (1829-1845); John William Cunningham (1845-1895), and Walter Smith (1895-1919).

Archival history

Transferred by the College Secretary’s office in 1981.

Content & structure

Scope and content

The correspondence largely contains letters sent to the Secretary of King’s College London concerning all aspects of the business of the College and its related bodies including King’s College School, 1831- 1908; the Ladies Department of King’s College, subsequently King’s College for Women, from 1885; and some aspects of the business of King’s College Hospital, 1839-1909, relating to new appointments and resignations as well as letters from the Secretaries of the Hospital - mainly regarding decisions of the Committee of Management.

The series contains letters from subscribers to the College regarding their donations, shareholdings or the nomination of prospective students; letters from staff include applications for posts, the content of syllabuses, appeals to College Council for funds for improved facilities, the names of prize and scholarship winners, requests to take in boarders, hold posts at other organisations, and resignations; letters from students and parents include general enquiries about the College, applications for enrolment, requests to remove pupils from King’s College School, applications from prize-winners for their prizes, applications for the AKC (Associateship of King’s College) the College’s own academic award, requests for the refunding of fees; letters from the College Architect regarding the building and later redevelopments of the Strand site; letters from businesses connected to the College including those who supplied equipment and groceries to the College and estimates from contractors for building work; letters from external bodies and individuals regarding the use of rooms in the College, donations and gifts to the College museums and Departments; correspondence relating to schools in union with the College; and papers regarding College Commemoration Days and the Gilbart Lectures on Banking.

The series is remarkably complete until the late 1890s. With the appointment of Walter Smith in 1895 came the introduction of a modern filing system (see KAS/GC, AC and AD) although bundles continued to be used on occasion until 1919. A few letters in the collection post date 1919, but these are largely related to loans of letters for historical research.

System of arrangement

Until 1894, the College's in and out correspondence and bills and accounts were arranged in two sequences. At the year end the in-correspondence and bills were bundled alphabetically by the first letter of the surname of the correspondent or the first letter of the topic, and then arranged chronologically and stored in wooden deed boxes.

By 1992 a majority of the deed boxes were collapsing, and a decision was taken to re-order the bundles in an integrated alphabetical sequence.

The reference number corresponds to the letter under which the correspondence has been filed. The bills and accounts were separated out into a different series (KA/BB).

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services, King's College London.

Language/scripts of material

Mainly English, but includes letters written in French, Italian, German, Persian, Spanish and Urdu.

Finding aids

Summary guide entry and detailed catalogue, online and in hard copy.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

King’s College Archives: Out-letter books (KA/OLB); Shareholders Correspondence (KSH/AB14); Secretary's general administration files (KAS/AD); Council Minutes and Agenda Books, (KA/C/M, KA/C/RM, KA/C/AM); College Secretary's files relating to policy, (KAS/GC); academic departments and academic initiatives, (KAS/AC); Library files relating to administration, (KAL/AD); Bills (KA/BB).

Description control

Archivist's Note

Detailed catalogue by Frances Pattman

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

2007; revised 2015


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  • Curriculum
  • Economics of education
  • Educational administration
  • Educational buildings
  • Educational finance
  • Educational levels
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Corporate names

  • King's College London College Archives
  • King's College London, College Secretary's Department

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