UCL Logo

UCL SSEES Library Archives

Archive Collection description: SEW


Seton-Watson (Professor Robert William) Collection (1905-1951)

Robert William Seton-Watson (1879-1951) arrived at Vienna University in 1905. It was the beginning of a life-long interest in the history and politics of Central and South East Europe, much of which was then unified under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Seton-Watson travelled widely in Austria-Hungary prior to the First World War and published a number of books on the national conflicts that existed within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the war recognised as an expert on the area and with many personal contacts, he was able to exercise influence as a member of the Intelligence Bureau of the War Cabinet (1917) and the Enemy Propaganda Department (1918) where he was largely responsible for the British propaganda that was disseminated to the Austro-Hungarian people. Seton-Watson also published a weekly periodical "The New Europe" (1916-1920) which was prominent in informing a wider public of the situation in the region. He travelled widely in the immediate aftermath of the war, attending the Paris Peace Conference and visiting the new states that had been created as a result of the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After the First World War Seton-Watson played a lesser role in influencing policy and his academic committments grew. He played a prominent role in establishing a School of Slavonic Studies at Kings College in 1915 (later SSEES). Seton-Watson was appointed the first holder of the Masaryk chair in Central European history in 1922, a post he held until 1945. During this time he founded and edited "The Slavonic Review" with Sir Bernard Pares. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Seton-Watson once again held posts in Government service, at the Foreign Research and Press Service (1939-1940) and Political Intelligence Bureau of the Foreign Office (1940-1942). However in contrast to his work during the First World War, he was unable to influence policy partly because he did not have access to decision makers and also because he was not allowed to publish his writings. In 1945 he was appointed to the new chair of Czechoslovak Studies at Oxford University, a post he held until his retirement in 1949. He had three children with his wife, May Stack. His sons Hugh (George Hugh Nicholas q.v.) and Christopher also became historians.
Ref: "Slavonic and East European Review" vol 30, no 74, 1951, pp 252-255; Seton-Watson, H and C "The making of a new Europe: R W Seton-Watson and the last years of Austria-Hungary" (London, 1918)


Correspondence, reports, memoranda, articles, press cuttings and maps. The material reflects Seton-Watson's life and interests and contains material relating to the politics and foreign affairs of Czechoslovakia (including the Munich Crisis), Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania. Also included are papers relating to Seton-Watson's involvement with "The New Europe", the Serbian Relief Fund, the Serbian Society, Yugoslav Society of Great Britain, Tribunal for internees opposed to the Nazi system and his government service in both wars; also list of materials bequeathed by Professor Robert Seton-Watson to New College, Library, Oxford University.


117 boxes, 44 volumes, 1 envelope

(Language) English (mainly) but also Czech & Slovak & French & German & Hungarian & Italian & Romanian & Polish & Serbo-Croat

Access on authority of the Librarian, access to list of New College material unrestricted

See also: SET for Professor Hugh Seton-Watson's papers, Professor Robert Seton-Watson bequeathed material to New College Library, Oxford University.

Catalogue of Seton-Watson Collection - class descriptions

Abbreviations used in this catalogue

RWSW = R W Seton-Watson
SRF = Serbian Relief Fund
SSEES = School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London

A record for this collection is also available on the UCL Archives web site. To see it, please type SEW into the search field.

Back to UCL SSEES Archive Collection Guide Home Page

Top of the pageTop of page

This page last modified Wednesday 2 June 2010.


University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT - Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 2000 - Copyright © 1999-2016 UCL

Search by Google