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Institute of Economic Affairs (Great Britain) records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Institute of Economic Affairs (Great Britain) records
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2010
    Collection Number: 96026
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 510 manuscript boxes, 23 oversize boxes, 1 cassette box, 14 motion picture film reels (239.0 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, minutes, press releases, financial records, conference proceedings, drafts and printed copies of publications, other printed matter, photographs, motion picture film, videotapes, and sound recordings relating to laissez-faire economic theory and associated concepts of liberty, and to analysis of British and international economic policy. Includes personal papers of some members.
    Creator: Institute of Economic Affairs (Great Britain)
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    Boxes 268-269 and 3 folders in Box 270 closed. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1996, with increments received in subsequent years.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Institute of Economic Affairs (Great Britain) records, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Historical Note

    Established in 1955 by the late Sir Antony Fisher, the Institute of Economic Affairs is a research and educational trust, independent of any political party or group, and financed by sales of publications, conference fees, and donations.
    Its mission is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society, with particular reference to the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The Institute pursues its mission by organizing conferences, seminars, and lectures on a range of subjects; reaching out to school and college students; brokering media introductions and appearances; and, most of all, by maintaining a regular publishing program. In addition to its main series of publications, the Institute also publishes a quarterly journal, Economic Affairs, and has three specialist units, the Health and Welfare Unit, the Environment Unit, and the Education and Training Unit.
    In his book on the history of the Institute, Richard Cockett wrote: "The IEA thus sought, through its publications programme, to demonstrate the efficacy of economic liberalism and to apply the principles of the free market to all areas of economic activity." The impact of the Institute on British politics was best summarized by Milton Friedman, who remarked that, "Without the IEA, I doubt very much whether there would have been a Thatcherite revolution."
    Two of the Institute's most prominent advocates and contributors were Friedrich A. von Hayek (Antony Fisher's main inspiration) and fellow Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, both of whom deposited their papers in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives. Other economists of international renown who have done so include Gottfried Haberler, Fritz Machlup, Schmölders, Gordon Tullock, and F. A. Harper, who invited Fisher to the United States in 1952 and whose Foundation for Economic Education gave him the model for the future IEA. Other related collections are those of philosopher Karl Popper, publisher Henry Regnery, and journalist Lawrence Fertig. Many of these figures were also members of the Mont Pèlerin Society, an organization of laissez-faire economists whose records are housed at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives as well.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) were accessioned into the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1996. Most of the materials date from the 1970s, with the notable exception of the press cuttings, which go back to 1940; the financial records, which have been kept since the Institute's founding; and the publications file, which starts in 1961.
    The latter is one of the largest series in the collection, and consists not only of printed copies (from books to pamphlets, occasional papers, and research monographs) but also of correspondence with authors, agents, and publishers, and of manuscripts (for many of those that were eventually published, related comments by reviewers, galleys, and other materials are also included).
    Other records of note are those in the series dedicated to the Institute's journal Economic Affairs, which contains interesting correspondence with authors.
    The personal files of several prominent IEA members are also represented in this collection. Particularly extensive are the papers of Lord Ralph Harris, the Institute's first director, and Arthur Seldon, its first editorial director. In the words of Cockett, "The duo of Harris and Seldon effectively ran the IEA from 1957 until the mid-1980s."
    Since the accession of the collection in 1996, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives has received many increments to the IEA records. The Incremental Materials series are arranged in subseries that mirror the organization of the original accession. Although filed separately, many of these materials belong to the same categories of records. For all series present in the original accession, please check the Incremental Materials series for additional documents.
    In addition, the Incremental Materials contain the correspondence and working files of John Blundell, who became general director of the IEA in 1993. Blundell also served as president of the Atlas Network and the Institute for Humane Studies. Documents related to these groups, as well as the Mont Pelerin Society, can also be found in the Incremental Materials.
    The Incremental Materials also contain a substantial amount of audiovisual materials, including video and sound recordings of IEA members, and recordings from the Mont Pelerin Society Aviemore Conference.
    The 2014 Incremental Materials include the papers of Barbara Shenfield, as well as files related to the IEA's journal Economic Affairs.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Video tapes
    Free enterprise
    Motion pictures
    Economic policy
    Great Britain -- Economic policy -- 1945-1964