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Register of the Melita Norwood papers circa 1902-2003
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents Note

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Melita Norwood papers
    Date (inclusive): circa 1902-2003
    Creator: Norwood, Melita, 1912-2005.
    Collection Number: 2010C5
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Collection Size: 2 manuscript boxes (0.8 linear feet)
    Abstract: Letters, notes, interview summaries, biographical and genealogical data, personal documents, printed matter, and photographs related to Soviet nuclear research espionage in Great Britain, the communist movement in Great Britain, and family affairs. Includes papers of Hilary Norwood, husband of Melita Norwood.
    Language of the materials: The collection is in English.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives

    Administrative Information


    The collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Melita Norwood papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2010.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Related Collections

    Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and Soviet State microfilm, Hoover Institution Archives
    David J. Dallin miscellaneous papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Pavel Sudoplatov interviews, Hoover Institution Archives

    Biographical Note

    Melita Norwood was a Soviet spy in England for nearly forty years; her role in delivering documents concerning atomic projects was especially important during the cold war years.
    Originally a labor organizer and later secretary to the director of the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, her assistance is believed to have hastened the Soviet Union's entry into the nuclear club by at least five years. Although identified as an agent in 1999, Norwood was never prosecuted by the British government. She died in 2005.
    Norwood was born and raised among revolutionary émigrés from tsarist Russia, where she acquired the leftist leanings that brought her and her husband, educator Hilary Norwood, into the Independent Labour Party and the British Communist Party in the 1930s. She was recruited as a spy by the NKVD in 1934. For some four decades, Melita Norwood (likely with the knowledge and assistance of her husband) passed secret information on Britain's atomic project to the Soviets.
    Norwood was the subject of a biography by historian David Burke entitled The Spy Who Came in from the Co-op (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2008).

    Scope and Contents Note

    The collection contains materials dating back to the early twentieth century, including photographs of Russian political émigrés in England and the Tolstoyan commune (Tuckton House) founded by those émigrés. Also included are family papers, notes on interviews with Melita Norwood conducted by David Burke, notebooks describing the Norwoods' travels to the USSR, papers of Hilary Norwood, and correspondence with various scholars, family, and friends.
    Although the collection contains no espionage-related documents, many of the papers will cause researchers to ponder whether and how organizations such as the British-Soviet Friendship Society and the British Society of Russian Philately, under the auspices of which Hilary traveled to the USSR, might have been covers or conduits for espionage and to what extent the Labour Party was infiltrated by Soviet operatives.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Norwood, Hilary, 1910-1985.
    Communism--Great Britain.
    Espionage, Russian--Great Britain.