Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
Founded in 1964 the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives is a leading repository for research into modern defence policy in Britain - its strategy, planning and conduct. Online access is available to explore the contents of our collections, including -
The Liddell Hart Library
The former private library of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart forms an integral part of the resources of the Centre, covering a range of military history topics from the late nineteenth century onwards. Recently, generous donations from the private libraries of Professor Sir Michael Howard and Sir Lawrence Freedman have widened the scope of the library considerably. Bibliographic records are gradually being incorporated into King's College London's main library catalogue.
Note the Advanced Search function of the main library catalogue, at the bottom of the online form, enables searchers to limit their search to single collections including The Liddell Hart Library.
King's College London's library catalogue
The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives collections are of national and international importance and, in 2005, were awarded Designated Status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).
On average, 30 new named archival collections are accessioned every year. More recent accessions have reflected the work of the services in the dismantling of the British Empire, as well as the British role in United Nations peacekeeping forces and in the Persian Gulf.
The Centre holds the private papers of over 700 senior defence personnel who held office from 1900 onwards. Individual collections range in size from a single file to the hundreds of items contained within the archives of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart. Collections may comprise many types of material: diaries, correspondence, working papers and files, texts of lectures, memoranda, unpublished memoirs, audio and video tapes of events and recollections, transcripts of interviews, photographs, maps and plans, and press cuttings.
The scope of the holdings is vast, and ranges from high-level defence policy and strategic planning (for example, in the papers of FM Viscount Alanbrooke and General Lord Ismay) down to the command of individual units in the field. Holdings cover all the armed services, (including the special services) and all wars, campaigns and peacekeeping initiatives in which British forces were engaged or acted as observers or specialist advisers, from the Second Boer War (1899-1902) onwards. The Centre's collections are also of value for a range of subjects not necessarily associated with military history including the history of science and journalism, and the study of racial interaction and colonial administration. An extremely rich resource for biographers is Liddell Hart's extensive correspondence with public figures of his day such as Robert Graves, Lord Beaverbrook and TE Shaw. A good view of the wide scope of the collections can be gained from the Serving Soldier website.
Donors and depositors
Staff of the Centre are always keen to discuss potential donations and deposits. For more information see the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives information for potential donors and depositors leaflet, available here as a pdf.
To support research in progress, the Department of War Studies within King's College London has purchased nearly 2000 microfiche and 500 reels of microfilm copies of mainly American original archives made commercially available. Dating from the Second World War, these may be divided into two main groups; those reflecting major sections of archives such as the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council and presidential security files; and those documents arranged by subject such as the Berlin Airlift and Suez crisis. A published catalogue is available for every microform series, bibliographic details of which are included in the Summary Guides.
Location Register, 1900-1975 : Since 1964, Archives staff have gathered information about the nature and location of the papers of senior defence personnel. The resulting online database gives career details for most personnel, plus descriptions of any papers that have been located. Entries also indicate if no papers were kept or survived, or where information was not obtainable.