Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874-1965)


Sir Winston Churchill

b-No.30, 1874, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England
d-Jan.24, 1965, London

Winston Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill, first came to public attention as a result of his escape from a prison in Pretoria during the Boer War. He was a war correspondent and had been captured.

His political career began in 1900 with his election to Parliament as a Conservative. He joined the Liberals over tariff reform proposed by Chamberlain. In 1908 he was appointed president of the Board of Trade by Asquith and was home secretary in 1910. He was in the Commons until 1923 and a number of ministerial offices including First Lord of the Admiralty in the Asquith government (1911-15). He served in the trenches of World War I in France in 1915-16, returning to Parliament in 1917 to serve as minister of munitions under Lloyd George at the time the tank was being developed. After the war ended he served as secretary for war (1918-21). He was colonial secretary and was a major player in establishing the Irish Free State.

Out of Parliament from 1922-24, Churchill returned as a Conservative representing Epping in 1924 and was made chancellor of the Exchequer (1924-29) under Baldwin. While chancellor he returned Britain to the gold standard and was noticed for his part in breaking the General Strike of 1926. He was again out of office (1929-39) but was a vocal critic of Conservative policy on India and especially Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini.

When World War II broke out, Churchill returned to his post at the Admiralty. When Chamberlain resigned he was asked to form a coalition government which he did in May, 1940 as its prime minister. Churchill became the voice of Britain during the war, his emotional speeches inspiring the nation to endure hardship and sacrifice. He had a close friendship with president Roosevelt, signing the Atlantic Charter in 1941 proclaiming their strategy for the war. Churchill met with Allied leaders in Casablanca, Washington, Cairo, Moscow and Tehran. He met with Stalin and Roosevelt in the Crimea in February, 1945 to plan for the final victory over Germany. He announced the German surrender on May 8th.

Within two weeks the coalition government that Churchill headed was disolved. He was defeated in a general election in July, 1945, becoming leader of the opposition until October, 1951 when he again became prime minister. He second government was in power until April, 1955 when he resigned.

Following his historic World War II ministry which secured his place in history, and his second term, Churchill took to writing and painting. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his six volume history of World War II (1948-1954). He also wrote "History of the English-Speaking Peoples" in four volumes (1956-58).

As can be imagined, due to the wide-ranging nature and length of Churchill's political career, his papers outsize the other post-war Prime Ministers, both in terms of size and distribution. His main political papers and correspondence are distributed between three major institutions: the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University and the Bryn Mawr College Library in the United States. Examples of Churchill's correspondence with various political figures can be found in nearly all the major repositories in the United Kingdom and it is suggested you consult the National Register of Archives for further details.


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Stefan Dickers
MA Archives and Records Management
UCL, SLAIS, Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT