207R. Harrod to J. Viner, 25 March 1931 [a]

Follows on from 206 R. Harrod interprets the positions about the Bodleian in Oxford: "There is a small minority of ultra-conservatives who wants to keep things as near the status quo as possible. There is a larger minority who are very keen on a research library. The big majority, as usual, is ill-informed and listless." Harrod explains that the minority school is hoping to postpone the vote in order to give the authorities an excuse to alter their present policy, but he is worried that it might be thought that the Rockefeller Foundation would turn it down. He therefore suggests again that a hint is dropped to the Vice-Chancellor on the actual Rockefeller position. [1]

  1. 1. Although Harrod had declared that he was not willing to make propaganda about his proposed arrangement for the Bodleian Library (see letter 203 R), the matter was "naturally rather near [his] heart" (the passage is draw from letter 206 R), and he did not miss the chance of exerting pressure upon the Rockefeller Foundation in favour of the position of the younger generation of dons. When Jacob Viner visited Oxford, Harrod expounded to him the difficulties he was having in terms of an opposition between those who wanted to preserve the old liberal arts college tradition and those who acknowledged that the University needed an expansion into the field of research. The signatories of the majority report apparently attempted to gain consensus arguing that a divided opinion would cause the withdrawal of the Rockefeller Foundation's support. Viner was convinced by Harrod's argument, and forwarded his letters to the Rockefeller Foundation (se source notes to this letter and letter 206 R). It would seem that a "casual visit" of a Rockefeller official to Oxford actually took place (J. S. Van Sickle to S. M. Gunn, 2 April 1931, enclosing a transcript of Harrod's letters to Viner, in RF 1.1, Series 401, Box 61, Folder 806).

    Besides Harrod's direct action to gain support from the Rockefeller Foundation, it must be noted that the minority report had a better echo than the majority report at the Rockefeller headquarters. W. W. Bishop, librarian at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbour, who had organized, on the Rockefeller Foundation's suggestion, the Commission's American visit, appreciated Harrod's report as more likely to meet future needs of research in Oxford, while he was disappointed with the Majority's proposal (Bishop to Sisam, 4 April 1931, and anonymous, "Précis of a letter dated April 3, 1931, Mr. W. W. Bishop to Mr. Kenneth Sisam. Commission's Report", both in RF 1.1, Series 401R, Box 61, Folder 806).

    1. a. Partial transcription sent from J. S van Sickle of the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, to S. M. Gunn, Vienna, in RF 1.1, series 401, Box 61, Folder 806.


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