Studying at LSE has always been about more than lectures, seminars and reading lists, writes LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly. The history of the Grimshaw Club indicates the length of the tradition of engagements and interest in the world beyond LSE.
The Grimshaw Club is probably the oldest student society at LSE. The Students’ Union was initially set up in 1897 as the Economics Students’ Union but by the 1920s the School’s Director, William Beveridge, was keen for the Students’ Union to develop its programme of pastoral and intellectual support for students. The Grimshaw Club was founded around 1923 at a time when international relations was developing as a discipline.
In 1924 Philip Noel-Baker was appointed to the Sir Ernest Cassell Chair of International Relations and on oration day 1927 Beveridge announced to opening a new department of International Relations seeking to unite work in international law, international history and the study of contemporary diplomacy and inter-government relations. A Professorial Council minute of 1930 referred to the Department of International Relations although it was commonly called the Department of International Studies. Already from 1927 International Law and Relations had appeared as a special subject in the revised BSc (Econ) – LSE’s main degree course. The first students taking the specialism graduated in 1930. In the same year Charles Manning was appointed to the Cassel Chair of International Relations, a post he retained until 1962.
The club was named after an LSE economist Harold Atheling Grimshaw. Grimshaw, a Yorkshire man, was born in 1880 and graduated with a BSc (Econ) with the special subject of public administration in 1916, having won the Gladstone Memorial Prize in 1914. The prize was awarded annually to the student with the best aggregate marks for papers in economics and the British constitution in the Intermediate Examination for the BSc Economics. He was President of the Students’ Union in 1916/17 and obtained an MSc (Econ) in 1918. After a short period as an assistant lecturer in the Department of Public Administration, Grimshaw took up a post with the International Labour Office of the League of Nations. He died suddenly in 1929 of a lung infection following a long research tour into the issue of forced labour in colonial administrations, during which he had visited Java and South Africa.
There is little surviving information about the early programmes of the Grimshaw Club but it is likely that it mainly followed a programme of talks, seminars and discussions. A feature of recent years has been a series of study trips which have included Madrid, Israel, Lebanon, North Korea, Russia and Hungary. The trips provide an opportunity to obtain direct experience of a country and to meet with politicians, non-governmental organisations, journalists and other students.