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History of the collections

It was Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild, who, in 1978, with the encouragement of the historian J. H. Plumb, then Master of Christ's College, Cambridge, took the first steps towards putting the records of the London business in order so as to make them available to the research community. An Archivist was appointed and work began on sorting the records and systematising procedures for access. 

In 1999, the Board of Directors of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, under the Chairmanship of the late Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (1931-2022), formally gifted the contents of the Archive Department of the London business (consisting largely of the historic business archives of the London house, N M Rothschild & Sons Limited) to a newly established body of Trustees. At the same time, responsibility for the collection of papers of the French business, deposited with the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail was transferred to the Trustees. 

The collections were now administered under a newly established body of Trustees, making The Rothschild Archive London an independent charitable trust. The Archive now houses, alongside the records of the London banking house (which themselves include often detailed correspondence from the continental houses in Frankfurt, Paris, Vienna and Naples), the papers of de Rothschild Frères, held by the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail in Roubaix, and surviving records of the branches of the businesses in Germany, Italy and Austria.

The Rothschild Archive Trust administers the Archive as an independent charitable trust in purpose-built premises made available for the purpose within the offices of the London business. With a growing awareness of The Rothschild Archive's purpose and increasing confidence in its potential, the scope and scale of the Archive have gradually broadened as donations and deposits of further papers concerning the activities and history of the Rothschild family have been received. Since 1999, The Archive has also been fortunate to attract deposits of family papers and artefacts from members of the Rothschild family. The Archive has also purchased archives, artefacts and publications, and the Rothschild businesses have continued to transfer material to the Archive.