You are here

Since World War II

The Second World War, like the First, brought College elections to a halt. The fellowship examinations were not resumed until 1946 when the record number of six Fellows were elected. Between 1948 and 1965 eleven Research Fellows were appointed and in the latter year discussions about the College's role, which had been rumbling on since the mid-1920s, came to a head. Development had become increasingly feasible with the growth since the 1890s of the College's income (especially from its London estates), a substantial proportion of which it had been diverting to general University purposes. Moves in the 1920s to build on the existing chairs of political economy and political theory, thereby adding a third special field to the traditional disciplines of law and history, had made little headway and were effectively halted by the establishment of Nuffield College in 1937. By 1963 there were fourteen Professorial Fellows of All Souls. Most of them were in the fields of law, history, and political economy, but other disciplines represented ranged from ecological genetics to Eastern religions. The ten Research Fellows were in the main concerned with legal, historical, and philosophical studies, as were the eleven Examination Fellows. In addition to these academic Fellows, there were eighteen ex-Examination Fellows holding distinguished or fifty-pound Fellowships (the so-called 'London Fellows').

This was the College which in 1963 eventually decided that its future lay in accepting graduate students  a decision which was to be rescinded twelve months later after detailed and sometimes bitter discussion. The ultimately accepted alternative was the development of a large-scale scheme for Visiting Fellows from Britain and overseas who were to be invited to spend up to a year at All Souls pursuing their researches. This change of heart, which was to result over the next forty years in some 600 distinguished scholars from twenty-five countries joining the College, was in effect a belated implementation of the most important recommendation of the 1919 Commission's report. But the College's alleged 'infirmity of purpose' had not commended itself to the University's Franks Commission of 1964, though the Commissioners in their report (1966) approved of the Visiting Fellowships scheme in principle. At the same time they recommended that the 'London' fellowships should be phased out, as they considered that their holders did not contribute to 'the vigour of the academic community of the College'  an opinion which the college did not share.

Providing accommodation for the Visiting Fellows resulted in the first major building works at All Souls since the completion of the chapel restoration in 1879: studies for them were built in 1966, and at Iffley, in the garden of a house bought for the purpose; a block of flats was constructed in the same year. A systematic restoration programme for the College's older buildings was simultaneously initiated.