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The 'T files'

Although not original archives in themselves, The Rothschild Archive contains a series of finding aids to the business papers of the London banking house known as the ‘T files’. The ‘T’ stands for ‘transcripts’, and correspondence selected for inclusion in the files covers the date range 1805 to 1903. These finding aids provide a useful introduction to some of the key correspondence between the Rothschild banking houses. 

It is believed that the files were originally compiled in the 1980s by staff of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, Archives Department, under the direction of Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild, using a combination of old transcripts made from the 1950s onwards, and new transcripts made from the original source documents. The 'T files' contain extracts, chosen by the compilers from letters in some of the key correspondence series of the London house, such as:

  • Business letters from the Rothschild family, XI/82 and XI/85
  • Business letters from de Rothschild Frères, XI/101
  • Private letters, sundry, XI/109
  • Sundry correspondence series, XI//112 to XI/129 
  • Correspondence concerning Rothschild agents such as August Belmont in New York, and business in Canada, Egypt and Austria have also been included.

The 'T files' were used extensively by Professor Ferguson in the preparation of his history of the Rothschild businesses, The World's Banker: the history of the house of Rothschild, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998). Many references to material in the ‘T files’ will be found in the chapter notes in Professor Ferguson’s book. 

Consulting the 'T files'

The ‘T files’ may be consulted in the Reading Room of the Rothschild Archive, London. An Index to the 'T files' may be found here ».

Limitations

The ‘T files’ have their limitations, and are not a sophisticated finding aid. The rationale behind the choice of extracts is often unclear, and in some cases it is not always easy to trace the original source of the extract in the many letters in the collection. There are inconsistencies in spelling and interpretation of the original source documents.

Rather the ‘T files’ serve as an introduction to the vast (and unindexed) series of correspondence that survive in the Archive.