Spence Watson/Weiss Archive

Subject strengths: History, Social History, Politics

This collection consists of papers relating to the Newcastle-born politician, co-founder of Armstrong College (now Newcastle University), and social and educational reformer Robert Spence Watson (1837-1911) and, to a lesser extent, his wife Elizabeth (1838-1919), a Quaker who was involved with many of her husband's projects, in particular with educational projects such as the Industrial or Ragged Schools. There are also papers relating to their son-in-law Professor Frederick Ernest Weiss (1865-195), Professor of Botany at the University of Manchester, and his wife Evelyn, the Spence Watsons' daughter.

The Papers were donated to the Library by Miss Mabel Weiss (Spence Watson's grand-daughter) and consist chiefly of correspondence sent to Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson and also correspondence relating to Ernest F. Weiss. There is also some correspondence to named and unnamed individuals which found their way into the papers through Spence Watson's involvement with various committees and organisations. There are letters from Liberal politicians and statesmen, including Sir Edward Grey, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, W.E. Gladstone, John Morley, Joseph Cowen, and John Bright, as well as letters from associates or friends from the many areas in which the Spence Watsons were interested, such as the arts, literature, exploration and political asylum. In addition, there are a number of family letters mainly from Robert Spence Watson to his wife and daughters and a few letters to Robert Spence Watson's father, Joseph Watson.

The material concerning Frederick and Evelyn Weiss includes letters to and from friends and associates working in the various fields of politics, science, the arts and general education matters. There are also letters addressed to C. P. Scott interspersed with the collection, and some miscellaneous material including a collection of autographs and letters from well known characters of the 19th century, pamphlets and publications by Robert Spence Watson and some cuttings and newspaper articles. 


Collection Name and Collection Reference Code:

Collection Name: Spence Watson/Weiss Archive

Archive Ref Code: GB186/SW

Date Range of Material

1850 - 1950

Type of Material

A collection of papers and archive documents relating to Robert Spence Watson, his wife Elizabeth Spence Watson, their daughter Evelyn Weiss and her husband Professor Frederick Ernest Weiss.

Size of Collection

2 Linear Metres of shelving 

How To Order Items From This Collection

Please use the finding aid below to search through a list of the individual items we have within this collection.

If you find an item you would like to consult in the Special Collections reading room, simply make a note of the reference number and title of the item(s) you are interested in (for example GB186/SW/1/4/1 Letter from Lord Dalhousie to Robert Spence Watson).

You can then place your order by linking to our Request Form

Finding Aid

Archival catalogue available via Archives Hub.

Unable to visit our Reading Room?

If you are unable to visit our reading room, we also have a virtual reading room service and a digitisation service archive and rare book collections.

Other Resources

Material from this collection was used in our Treasures of the Month feature for January 2009 and February 2011.

Material from the collection has been included in an exhibition, The North's Forgotten Female Reformers.

See Spence Watson (Robert) Collection for books from Robert Spence Watson's personal library. 

See more digitised content from this collection at CollectionsCaptured.