Wood, George Henry, Collection GHW

Dated c.1773-2005

Extent: 54 shelves

This collection comprises consists of around 50,000 pamphlets, some loose and some bound in volumes, spanning roughly 1870-1930. It was the personal library of George Henry Wood, a statistician and socialist who spent much of his career striving to improve the living and working conditions of the lower classes. Wood loaned the collection to the Huddersfield Technical College in 1925 and 20 years later, upon his death, it was gifted to form a part of what would later become the University library. The collection naturally reflects Wood’s personal interests and while it is therefore slightly biased by its creator’s tendency toward socialism it provides a window into the ideologies and popular politics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The section of the library Wood loaned the College was predominately the Economic and statistical works and due to various subsequent removals to other institutions and some loss the collection we currently hold is not the complete original deposit. Wood himself gave the collection the title of 'The Library of a Sociologist' which is a good summary of the overarching theme of the collection. The majority of documents included in the library are pamphlets, either loose or bound together, covering social issues such as industrialisation, the economy and the welfare of the working people. The remaining documents are mostly biography books and manuscripts written by Wood himself. Wood was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a well renowned authority on the subject of workers' wages and conditions and so naturally a large amount of the collection is given over to such research.

The pamphlets that make up this collection were mostly produced quickly and cheaply for mass circulation. As a result there are relatively few examples of many of them remaining and even fewer collections compiling them on this scale. A huge range of topics is covered but the collection can also be a valuable source for researching literacy levels, the dissemination of information, propaganda, graphic design and the use of language.

The catalogue is divided by general theme into 17 main sections; each of these has subsections within them to further divide the collection and delineate the topic of the pamphlets. Many of the themes overlap in places, meaning that while these divisions can be a useful tool for browsing they should not be taken as definitive boundaries. The collection remains in much condition as when it was donated although some additions were made later, most notably GHW/Q (Administration), which was added by Heritage Quay archivists. Upon receiving the collection the Technical College library staff did alter the structure slightly. Previously Wood had kept the pamphlets and volumes in order of acquisition but it was decided that this needed to be changed in order to improve accessibility. The structure was later altered even further when library and archive staff split the collection into sections and subsections based on the themes covered in the documents. The sections are:

A-Economics: A/A General Economics (c.1820-1911); A/B Banking and Currency (c.1820-1920); A/C Public Finance (c.1822-1914); A/D International Trade (c.1821-1920); A/E Free Trade and Protectionism (c.1800-1910).

B-Industry: B/A General Industry (c.1832-1920); B/B Manufacturing Industries (c.1844-1914); B/C Industrial Health and Safety and Welfare (c.1868-1925); B/D Industrial Relations (c.1897-1920).

C-Labour Problems: C/A Labour (c.1816-1918); C/B Wages and Hours (c.1860-1920); C/C Unemployment (c.1893-1920); C/D Trade Unions (c.1869-1918); C/E Co-Operation (c.1872-1924).

D-Social Reform Problems: D/A General (c.1866-1909)l; D/B Philanthropy (c.1900-1901); D/C Poverty and Poor Laws (c.1818-1912); D/D Housing (c.1884-1902); D/E Health and Sanitation (c.1895-1915); D/F The
Elderly (c.1906-1925); D/G Drink, Intemperance and Gambling (c.1882-1907); D/H Crime (c.1888-1920); D/I Population (c.1821-1910).

E-Women, Children and Education: E/A Women (c.1886-1916); E/B Children (c.1903-1918); E/C Education (c.1837-2005).

F-Politics: F/A General (c.1831-1919); F/B Liberalism (c.1883-1910); F/C Socialism (c.1821-1920); F/E Fabianism (c.1891-1925); F/F Anarchism (c.1895-1906).

G-Labour Government: G/A Local Government and Municipal Control (c.1851-1911).

H-Thought and Belief: H/A Sociology (c.1860-1911); H/B Philosophy and Ethics (c.188-1901); H/C Religion (c.1870-1914).

I-Statistics (c. 183-1919)

J-Agriculture and Land (c.1843-1914)

K-Transport: K/A Railways (c.1873-1899)

L-International: L/A Ireland (c.1833-1913); L/B America (c.1838-1911); L/C France (c.1850-1904); L/D Germany (c.1896-1919); L/E Other Countries (c.1839-1922).

M-War: M/A Boer War (c.1899-1903); M/B First World War (c.1914-1918); M/C Reconstruction (c.1918-1920).

N-Economic, Social and Legal: N/A Economic and Social History (c.1834-1905); N/B Legal and Legislation (1773-1906); N/C Biography and Autobiography (c.1835-1913).

O-Miscellaneous (c.1865-1965)

P-Bibliographies (c.1855-1915)

Admin History
George Henry Wood was born in Bristol in 1874 and died in 1945. During his lifetime, he was an active member of a number of groups and societies and involved with the collation of statistics relating to the working poor almost constantly. These activities and personal interests are reflected in the collection. He described himself as "one who has great sympathy with the aims of the Socialists, even though I do not ....accept their teachings to the full", (Llanelly Mercury, 20th Aug 1896).

In his search for self-improvement Wood became a lecturer and regional administrator for the Bristol Bimetallic League which was founded by the Liberal Unionists in 1895. Bimetallists believed that currency problems were causing damage to industry. Wood went a step further and linked currency with the living standards of workers, his main concern being to improve the conditions of the working class. Wood immersed himself in the work of the league; in 1896, upon moving to Newport, he became the secretary of the Newport Branch until 1898 when India placed the rupee on the Gold Standard. This meant that the monometallic argument had won and in 1899 he left the organisation to concentrate on the other strands of his career. Upon his return to Bristol in the late 1890s, Wood recommenced his work with the Bristol Bimetallic League and continued his lecture series which he began to focus more towards the field of wage statistics. He also became the Honorary Secretary and a founder member of the Bristol Economic Society in 1898 and later a member of both the Bristol Socialist Society and the Bristol Liberal Unionist Association.

In 1896, Wood married Emma Willmott and moved to Newport in South Wales. He contributed many articles to the Llanelly Mercury with socialism being a central theme. In an article which appeared on 20 August 1896, he wrote: ‘Surely a mode of society which breeds the vice and misery and degradation and destitution which are to be seen in any thickly populated districts has something wrong in its foundations. …’
Between 1897 and 1915 Emma gave birth to three children – Dorothy, Hubert and Geoffrey. In 1898 the family returned to Bristol as Wood suffered from bouts of rheumatic fever. Here he began his career as a wage statistician. Combining his fascination with the position of labour and his mathematical talent he studied working hours, conditions and wages. Starting with a collection of lists of family expenditure he developed the figures into a series of index numbers. This was the effective and he rapidly became one of the first authorities on the subject of work and wages.

On 16 November 1897 Wood became the youngest fellow ever elected to the Royal Statistical Society. He worked in partnership with A.L.Bowey and together they provided most of the non-official statistics at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their combined work was published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society from 1899 until 1911.

Wood gained a reputation as an excellent organiser, working as a private secretary for the director of the Imperial Tobacco Company and the chairman of the Bimetallic League. From 1900 onwards his services were in continuous demand, yet he still found time to continue his statistical research. Many of his wage notes can be found on the reverse sides of assorted election notices and memoranda.

Throughout his life Wood showed an active and often professional interest in the collation of statistics, particularly those relating to economics and wages of the poor. In 1897, aged just 23, Wood became the youngest ever Fellow to be elected to the Royal Statistical Society. By 1907 his personal research and work with statistics had developed to the point of allowing him to refer to himself as a professional statistician and by 1910 he was employed as an occasional lecturer in Statistics at Huddersfield Technology College. In 1910 Wood was presented with the Guy Medal in Silver for his work 'The Statistics of Wages in the UK during the Nineteenth Century, part 15: The Cotton Industry'. By 1926 Wood had been elected as a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society.
In 1896 Wood became a regular contributor to the Llanelly Mercury. He wrote for this paper for 16 months under his own name as well as a variety of pseudonyms including 'Semper Eadem' and 'Fabius'. From 1899 onwards, when Wood's attention had turned toward the field of wage statistics, he worked with A L Bowley to publish a series of annual articles for the Journal of the Royal Statistical College. Wood also had works published in the Economic Journal, the Co-Operative Wholesale Societies Annual, Westminster Review and the Socialist Review, (this last was published under the pseudonym of Harry Willmott).

Wood was an active member of the Fabian society, joining in 1896 and remaining a member for 25 years. By 1910 he was president of the Huddersfield Fabian Society, Chair at the Northern Fabian Conference and the Huddersfield representative at the Annual Fabian Conference. He also frequently contributed to the Fabian News and the work of the Fabian Research Department.
Sometime after 1901 Wood was employed as Secretary to Miss B L Hutchins who was, at that time, working on a study of the wages and conditions of working women and writing 'A History of Factory Legislation'. Wood assisted in the research for both of these works and his statistics on the subject were undoubtedly utilised. In 1903, while living near London, Wood became an employee of the Board of Trade, working as Statistical Investigator for the Labour Department. By 1906 though he had moved to Lancashire and started work inquiring into the wages in the cotton industry. He moved again in that same year to Huddersfield where he continued to research wages, this time in the woollen industry. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Wood took a War Office position as Chief Statistical Officer to the Department of Wool Textile Production.

While living in Huddersfield Wood joined, and became Secretary for, the Huddersfield and District Woollen Manufacturers and Spinners Association in 1907. During his time with this society he was heavily involved in the reduction working hours and rise in wages and the abolition of the half-time labour system Huddersfield Manufacturers. He later became a member of the National Committee to Promote the Break-Up of the Poor Law. In 1912, elected to the committee of the Huddersfield and District Men's Co-Operative Guild and became President and Trustee of the Huddersfield and District Co-Operative Friendly Society for which both Wood and his wife, Emma, were given honorary life time memberships. By roughly 1915 he and Emma had become highly active members of the Workers' Educational Association and were elected as joint Vice Presidents around 1915.

Emma was a great influence on her husband's feminist views, as a lecturer on women's issues, including electoral sufferage and the requirements of motherhood, as well as being a supporter of the Divorce Law. She was also a speaker within the Huddersfield Fabian Society, with her specialism being 'Children in the Twentieth Century'.

Wood and his family moved away from Huddersfield in 1916, settling eventually in Bingley. Later in that same year, he helped to found the Woollen and Worsted Trades Federation for which he immediately became the Secretary - which was the culmination of ten years work for Wood.

During the 1920's, Wood showed a renewed interest in the Royal Statistical Society and, in 1926, he became a member of its council, a position he held until 1929.

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