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The activities of the Correspondence Department lay at the heart of the bank's operations and the records handled by it constitute a large proportion of the Archive.
Private letters between members of the family may be found preserved within the Bank's own filing system, particularly series such as XI/109 and XI/101 within the Correspondence Department. In common with the other departmental filing systems, the numbers assigned to series of correspondence are fairly arbitrary, but the series can be considered in several major groups.
A few pieces of sundry correspondence concenring specific business has been included in papers of the Correspondence Department.
The papers are arranged five main groups:
1 Rothschild family business correspondence
Correspondence between members of the Rothschild family and the various Rothschild houses, is contained in several series. The divisions between the series are not watertight, but as far as possible, they are arranged according to the location of the majority of the senders in the order: Frankfurt, Paris, Vienna and Naples, with sundry non-family correspondence at the end.
2 Major correspondents
Correspondence received from the global network of Rothschild agents and agencies. This network enabled the Rothschild businesses to profit from the most up-to-date business and political information, and social news. The agents operated in a semi-independent role. They acted on behalf of the Rothschilds in securing local business deals, but were also able to use their positions as representatives of one of the most prestigious banking partnerships to amass considerable personal wealth and social position. The correpsondence is arranged alphabetically by agent or agency name; there are 150 individual series.
3 Banks, Governments and Railways
The correspondence from banks has been placed first in sequence before the correspondence from governments. The order is alphabetical, using the title of the bank in the language used in the correspondence. Included are a few sundry papers in the 38 series concerning railways.
4 Subject correspondence
The various 'subject correspondence' series contain files concerning discrete pieces of business, including loans, agreements, commodity transactions, reports on business opportunities and investments, stocks and other investments. Correspondence is arranged in the 'Affaires' series (XI/4), Special Subject Correspondence series (XI/111), and lastly some collections of sundry subject correspondence.
5 Sundry correspondence
The sundry correspondence series contain much 'hidden' material, including early letters from some agents and clients whose main correspondence can be found in the Major Correspondents series above. The series are arranged into Sundry Letters, 1802-c.1924, Sundry Letters, c.1920-1936 and General Letter files, 1936-1971.
6 Outgoing correspondence
The series of General Letter Copy Books (XI/148) contain copies of outgoing letters, 1814-1920. These letters were mostly written by NMR clerks and concern routine business. Regretfully, General Letter Copy Books covering the period 1921-1937 were destroyed in 1941. Another regretful loss is the entire series of Private Letter Copy Books (XI/149). These contained copy letters written by the Partners, and covered the period 1877-1891; 1907-1925.