Bodleian Library logo

Department of Special Collections
Contact Information
Search All Online Catalogues

Consulting material: To consult archives and manuscripts, a full and unrestricted Bodleian reader's card (Group A) is required. You should apply for your card at the Admissions Office.

Pre-ordering: Before your visit you may order up to ten items by emailing Please be advised that some collection material is held offsite; we advise pre-ordering at least two working days before your visit to ensure material is available on your arrival.

Collection Level Description: Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky, KCMG

Reference: MSS. Welensky
Title: Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky, KCMG
Dates of Creation: 1936-90
Extent: 805 boxes

Language of Material: English

Administrative/Biographical History

Sir Roy Welensky (1907-91), PC (1960), KCMG (1959), Kt (1953), CMG (1946) was brought up in Southern Rhodesia, then moved to Northern Rhodesia at the age of seventeen as a fireman on the Rhodesia Railways, playing a prominent part in the railway strike of 1929. Following the strike, he became a leader in the Railway Workers' Union. In 1933 he was made Chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the Union and was appointed a member of the National Council. In 1938 he became a member of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council. In the same year he began a successful twelve year battle with the British South Africa Company over mineral royalties, achieving an agreement which gave Northern Rhodesia 20% of royalties for the next thirty-seven years. He held the Broken Hill seat until his election to the Federal Assembly in 1953. From 1940 he was a member of the Executive Council and was appointed Chairman of the Unofficial Members Association in 1946. During World War Two he served as Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia, and in 1941 founded the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party.

An advocate of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Welensky attended all the conferences leading to its establishment, and was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, and Minister of Posts early in 1954. Later the same year, he was made Leader of the House, and became Prime Minister in 1956. By the end of the 1950s, however, he realised that, in the face of decolonisation, nationalism, etc., the Federation could not last, and eventually accepted the dissolution process. He made an unsuccessful return to politics in the Arundel by-election, Southern Rhodesia, 1964. After retiring from politics, he continued to correspond with statesmen worldwide, and published Welensky's 4000 Days. The life and death of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (London, Collins,1964). In 1928 he married Elizabeth Wilhelmina Henderson, with whom he had three children. She died in 1969, and in 1972 he married (Miriam) Valerie Scott, with whom he had two daughters.

Scope and Content

The collection includes not only Welensky's own papers but also papers of the government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Northern Rhodesian and Pre-Federation material

Federal Cabinet, Federal Government, Federal Public Service and Federal Assembly, the Governor-General and the Executive Council

Files of the Federal era relating to Welensky's portfolios and to other aspects of government securing his attention

Public engagements, visits and speeches

Elections, political parties and organisations

Private Secretary's correspondence, Private Office organisation, general and personal correspondence, and miscellanea

Post-Federal material

System of Arrangement

A detailed account of the arrangement and original filing system of the papers can be found in the printed handlist.

Administrative Information

Access Conditions

Bodleian reader's ticket required: The papers comprising the first six sections of the collection are subject to a 30 year closure period. Further releases of papers are scheduled for January 2004, January 2014 and January 2034 (see handlist).

Reproduction Restrictions

No reproduction or publication of papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Further Information

Finding Aids

Listed as no. 844 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996). A handlist, Papers of The Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky KCMG 1907-1991 in Rhodes House Library Oxford. A Catalogue, compiled by J.F. Hargrave (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1995) is also available in the library reading room.

Related Units of Description

Typescript of taperecorded interview with Reginald Maudling, 1968, including impressions of Welensky (ref. MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 484); the library also holds Welensky correspondence, 1960s, on microfilm, (CHECK) copied from originals held by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a memorandum to Welensky from S.F. Turner containing suggestions for the partition of Northern Rhodesia, 1961.

Correspondence between Welensky and Lord Salisbury, [c1960s-1972] is held in the library and archives of the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House; these are, however, subject to a 50 year closure period.

Publication Note

The Welensky Papers. A History of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland by J.R.T. Wood (Durban, Graham Publishing, 1983); The road to Zimbabwe. 1890-1980 (CHECK)by Anthony Verrier (London, Cape, 1986); A history of Rhodesia (CHECK) by Robert Blake (London, Eyre Methuen, 1977).

Access Points

Welensky | Roy Roland | 1907-1991 | Sir | Knight Rhodesian Statesman

Huggins | Godfrey Martin | 1883-1971 | 1st Viscount Malvern | Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia

Zambia | History | 20th century

Malawi | History | 20th century

Zimbabwe | History | 20th century

Rhodesia and Nyasaland | History | 20th century

Zaire | History |

Zambia | Politics and government

Malawi | Politics and government

Zimbabwe | Politics and government

Rhodesia and Nyasaland | Politics and government

Zambia | Constitutional history

Malawi | Constitutional history

Zimbabwe | Constitutional history

Rhodesia and Nyasaland | Constitutional history

Botswana | Constitutional history

Swaziland | Constitutional history

Africa, East | Constitutional history

Katanga (Congo) | History

Ndola (Zambia) | History

Federal government | Africa

Central African Council

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
27 June 2011