Document Reference NumberULA/D37
Acc No2016/4
TitleThe Harold James Dyos Collection
DescriptionBriefly, the collection comprises correspondence between Professor Dyos (1921-1978), and scholars from around the world, material relating to the organisation of the Urban History Group’s annual conferences, research and correspondence relating to Professor Dyos’ publications and material relating to his public roles and local conservation work.

The major part of the collection is comprised of the correspondence of Professor Dyos with leading urban, economic and social historians from around the world. Having established the Urban History Newsletter in 1963, Dyos was able to capitalize on the contacts he had with these scholars, by asking them to report on the urban activities in their country. In this way he was able to keep all those interested in the field up to date with the latest developments.

To start with, the Newsletter was published twice yearly and contained conference reports, book reviews, a register of research and details of work completed. The Newsletter and the number of subscribers expanded yearly, and in 1974, it was succeeded by the Urban History Yearbook. The editorial part of the Newsletter, however, continued to be issued on an occasional basis.

A large part of the correspondence concerns the organisation of the Urban History Group's annual conferences. The group, created in the early 1960s, grew out of the British Economic History Society, and its conferences were arranged to coincide with those of the Society. The first symposium of the Group was held at the University of Leicester in 1966. The proceedings were later published under the title of The Study of Urban History. The attendance numbers grew each year as people from other disciplines, as well as social and economic history, were keen to attend.

The collection also contains research and correspondence relating to Dyos's book, Victorian Suburb, A Study of the growth of Camberwell published in 1961. This grew out of his doctoral dissertation The Suburban Development of Greater London, South of the Thames, 1836-1914, which was approved in 1952 by the University of London. He intended to complete other volumes on Camberwell and although preparation and research had begun, other writing commitments prevented him from completing any more. However, he was able to develop some of the themes that came from his research into Victorian London. A selection of such writings were collected and reproduced in Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in urban history by H.J. Dyos, edited by David Cannadine and David Reeder.

Dyos was constantly in demand to give lectures both in Europe and North America. He was very keen on illustrating his talks with slides and hence, developed quite a sizeable number which now form part of the collection. There are also some drawings which were used in publications, most notably Victorian Suburb and the great two volume The Victorian City: Images and Realities, edited by himself and Michael Wolff.

Dyos's involvement in the field of urban history didn't end at the university walls and the contents of the collection reflect this. He increasingly took on public roles such as chair of the local Broadcasting Council and membership of the Inner City committee of the Social Science Research Council (now ESRC). He was active in local conservation work, gave his support to environmental studies and in 1976, succeeded Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as chairman of The Victorian Society. He was still, however, deeply involved in the administrative side of university life and always a very committed teacher, giving advice and encouragement to all who asked. [Information from]
Extent42 boxes
OtherNumberFormerly HD
Arrangement1/1-24 Correspondence between Professor Dyos and other leading urban, economic and social historians from around the world;
2/1-50 Photographic slides
3/1-12 Correspondence, programme of events, newsletters and other material relating to the urban History Group;
4/1-16 Material relating to ‘Urban History Newsletter’ and other journals;
5/1-6 Camberwell;
6/1-14 Alphabetical by-subject index of material collected during Professor Dyos’ researches;
7/1-12 Correspondence and other material relating to organisations/institutes/societies;
8/1-4 Material relating to lecturing and marketing;
9/1-6 Correspondence concerning applications for various research grants;
10/1-7 Working with publishers;
11/1-5 Notes and copies from journals;
12/1-2 Material for journal articles published in ‘Devon Historian’ and ‘Victorian Studies’ and a paper given at All Souls College;
13/1 ‘The Victorian City: Images and Realities’ reviews;
14/1-8 Miscellaneous papers.
Also included is a listed collection of reel-to-reel tapes.
AdminHistoryH.J. Dyos pioneered the study of urban history in Britain and promoted it through his contacts with leading urban, economic and social historians from around the world. Born in 1921, he left school at 15 and served in the Royal Artillery during the war, before going to the London School of Economics to study economic history in 1946. In 1952 he was appointed to a lectureship at University College, Leicester, a well-respected centre for the study of local history and Victorian studies. Dyos remained at Leicester for the rest of his career, becoming Professor of Urban History. In 1961 he published ‘Victorian Suburb: A Study of the Growth of Camberwell’. His other principal writings include: ‘The Study of Urban History’ in 1968 (editor); ‘British Transport: An Economic Survey from the Seventeenth Century to the Twentieth’ in 1969 (with Derek H. Aldcroft); and ‘The Victorian City: Images and Realities’ in 1973 (editor with Michael Wolff). As part of the conference of the Economic History Society in 1963, he convened the first meeting of the Urban History Group, and he started and contributed frequently to the ‘Urban History Newsletter’, which was succeeded by the ‘Urban History Yearbook’ in 1974. He died suddenly and prematurely in 1978.
AccessConditionsResearchers are required to complete a Data Protection disclaimer form prior to consultation of the correspondence files within this collection.
AccessStatusSome material may be unavailable for general access
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