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GLS & GB 141 SMGC - The Gypsy Collections
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The Gypsy Collections

Archives described on the Archives Hub are held in repositories across the UK

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This material is held at University of Liverpool, Special Collections and Archives
Reference Number(s) GB 141 GLS & GB 141 SMGC
Dates of Creation c.1860-1998
Name of Creator Gypsy Lore Society (1888-1973); Robert Andrew Scott Macfie (1868-1935)
Language of Material The material in the collection is written in English, various Romani dialects and some French and German
Physical Description 226 archive boxes and 35 bound volumes

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two separately-catalogued but interlinked parts, the Gypsy Lore Society Archive (GLS) and the Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection (SMGC)

The Gypsy Lore Society Archive held in the Special Collections and Archives of the Sydney Jones Library includes over 10 000 letters relating to Gypsy matters and the Gypsy Lore Society, administrative material and the papers of individual gypsiologists, dating from c.1888-1973.

The Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection contains items collected by Robert Andrew Scott Macfie 1868-1935 and other members of the Society. At the time of its presentation in 1935, the Collection contained more than 450 books and 280 articles (not including reprints from the Journal), and broadsheet edicts, pamphlets in Russian, German and Hungarian, plays, press cuttings, theses and dissertations, sheet music plus manuscripts, drawings, sound recordings, photographs, slides and glass negatives. The published books and pamphlets, sheet music and sound recordings are separately catalogued. See Gypsy Collections webpages

Administrative / Biographical History

Gypsy Lore Society

In May 1888 David MacRitchie, a qualified accountant from Edinburgh who had given up his profession in favour of his intellectual pursuits, sent out a circular announcing the newly formed Gypsy Lore Society. The circular gave the aim of the society as "...investigating the Gypsy question in as many-sided a manner as possible". The first period of the society had lasted only four years when, in 1892, having published only three volumes of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, lack of funds paralysed its activities. MacRitchie was determined to revive the Society; despite the fact that many of the original contributors had died, he began in 1906 to discuss with John Sampson the feasibility of this proposition.

Robert Andrew Scott Macfie, a Liverpool man, was their choice to take on the unenviable task of rousing the Society. Copies of the circulars, notices and letters he sent out form a major part of the archive. In 1907 the first volume of the JGLS New Series was issued with a prefatory note by David MacRitchie describing the Society as "More vigorous than ever" and "devoting itself with renewed energy to Gypsy study in all its various phases" (JGLS New series 1907). Within a few years Macfie increased the Society's membership from below 100 to over 200 and even made the Society financially viable for a short time. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the Society languished, and Macfie, on his return from four years' service, was exhausted and unable to provide the impetus for a fresh start.

The hiatus ended in 1922. With the initial backing of the brothers James and William Ferguson, the next chapter of the Society was a success, continuing for the next fifty-two years with the input of such noted Gypsy scholars as Eric Otto Winstedt, T.W. Thompson, F.G. Ackerley, Macfie, who resumed his post as Secretary and Editor in 1932 until his death in 1935, H.J. Francis and Dora Yates. Dora Yates had assisted Macfie with the editing and production of the JGLSfrom 1907 and on his death in 1935 became Honorary Secretary. Although she had had editorial control since Macfie's death, it wasn't until 1955 that Yates officially became the editor of the JGLS. It was Yates who brought the Gypsy Lore Society to Liverpool University Library, continuing her work for the Society from her office in the University even after her retirement in 1945. After her death in 1974, the Society, with Liverpool no longer as its base, produced a sporadic fourth series of the JGLS. In 1977 the Gypsy Lore Society, North American Chapter was formed.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Andrew Scott Macfie

Robert Andrew Scott Macfie (1868-1935) was Honorary Secretary of the Gypsy Lore Society 1907-1914, and editor of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society 1907-1914 and 1933-1935. He was educated at Cambridge, Edinburgh and Göttingen Universities before joining Messrs. Macfie and Sons sugar refining business, which his family had owned and operated in Liverpool since 1838. Macfie spent a short while abroad when serving in the Army but returned to Liverpool to become one of the first members of the distinguished University Club. Macfie's association with the Club brought him into contact with the group of brilliant scholars who were at the time building up the University College, a number of whom were also keen Gypsiologists.

In 1907 John Sampson and David MacRitchie persuaded Macfie to revive the Gypsy Lore Society. For the next 30 years Macfie was the inspiration for the Society and acted as Secretary and editor for many years. He became one of England's leading authorities on Gypsies and their language, recording vast quantities of dialect, folk tales and songs from various bands of Gypsies in Britain, including the Lovari (or 'German') Gypsies who visited England in 1906 and the 'Coppersmith Gypsies' who came into the country in 1912. In the summer of 1913 Macfie travelled through Bulgaria in the company of a band of gypsy horse-dealers and subsequently wrote a lively account of this adventure for the Gypsy Lore Society entitled "With Gypsies in Bulgaria".

During the First World War, Scott Macfie joined the Liverpool Scottish Regiment as Quartermaster-Sergeant, serving in the trenches as a member of the British Expeditionary Force, and was awarded the Military Medal. After his return from the war, ill-health forced Macfie to retire to the Yorkshire Dales and in June 1935 he died. On his death Macfie's library was bequeathed to the Gypsy Lore Society and was presented to the University of Liverpool.


The Gypsy Lore Society Archive (Gypsy Lore Society) and the Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection (SMGC) are catalogued as separate archives but are interlinked and complementary: for example, many photographs now included in the Scott Macfie Collection were originally sent with letters in the Gypsy Lore Society Archive.

The Gypsy Lore Society Archive is arranged into groups of:

  • Correspondence: GLS A1-35, GLS I-XLIII
  • Administrative materials: GLS XLIV-LII
  • Gypsiologist Papers: GLS B-G

The Scott Macfie Gypsy collection is arranged into groups of:

  • SMGC 1: Photographs
  • SMGC 2: Illustrations
  • SMGC 3: Manuscripts
  • SMGC 4: Music
  • SMGC 5: Newspaper cuttings

There are also collections of printed items (including the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society) and audio-visual material kept separately, and catalogued with the classmark SPEC Scott Macfie in the online library catalogue.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to bona fide researchers, unless otherwise indicated.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules are available on request.

In the Gypsy Lore Society Archive the copyright in the Lee Family Correspondence is the property of the Lee family. Researchers must apply in writing to the Head of Special Collections and Archives to request permission to quote material from these papers. All correspondence will be passed to the Lee family representative who will be responsible for granting permission to publish material from these papers.

Acquisition Information

The Gypsy Lore Society Archive was bequeathed to the University of Liverpool Library by Dora Yates's will after her death in January 1974. Duplicate copies of material were sent to the University of Leeds Library.

The Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection was donated to the Honorary Secretary of the Gypsy Lore Society, Dr Dora Yates, on the death of Scott Macfie in 1935, by his sister and executrix Marion Sheila Scott Macfie. Dora Yates in turn presented the Collection to the University of Liverpool Library on the 4th November 1935 "to be kept intact for all time as a reference library for gypsy students throughout the world". The collection also contains much material collected by other members of the Gypsy Lore Society.

Custodial History

The Gypsy Lore Society Archive was maintained by Dora Yates; after her death it remained with the University of Liverpool. The Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection was initially bequeathed to Dora Yates who then donated the collection to the University of Liverpool.


There are occasional accruals of material relating to former Gypsy Lore Society members.

Other Finding Aids

Finding aids are available in the reading room for both the Gypsy Lore Society Archive and the Scott Macfie Gypsy Collection.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm copies of the Gypsy Lore Society letter books (Ref. GLS A.26-A.30) and Scott Macfie press cuttings bound volumes (Ref. SMGC 5) are available.

Related Material

The Dora Yates Archive contains papers relating to the non-Gypsy activities of Dora Yates.

The John Sampson Archive contains papers relating to the non-Gypsy activities of John Sampson.

The Georg Althaus Collections include photographs and papers of Hanns Weltzel, a member of the Gypsy Lore Society.

Separated Material

Records for the Scott Macfie book collection, incorporating the libraries of several Gypsy Lore Society members, may be found in the catalogue of Liverpool University Library and the records can be searched as a group under the local call number SPEC Scott Macfie.

The Brotherton Collection, University of Leeds Library

Further details of other relevant collections are available on the Special Collections & Archives website.



Personal Names

Macfie, Robert Andrew Scott (1868-1935) Romany Scholar
MacRitchie, David (1851-1925) Anthropologist and folklorist
Yates, Dora Esther (1879-1974) Romany Scholar
Sampson, John (1862-1931) Romany Scholar
Leland, Charles Godfrey (1824-1903) Writer

Corporate Names

Gypsy Lore Society

Cataloguing Info

Title The Gypsy Collections c.1860-1998
Author Julie Allinson, Gary Clarke, Johnston, Pete, and Míchéal OhAodha; revised by Katy Hooper
Publication University of Liverpool Library, Special Collections and Archives 2013
Creation Created using Emacs open text editor October 2003
Language Usage The Finding Aid is written in English

Gypsy Lore Society Archive

Reference Number(s) GLS
Dates of Creation 1888-1973
Physical Description 170 boxes; 38 bound volumes (35 linear metres)


  • Correspondence: GLS A1-35, GLS I-XLIII
  • Administrative materials: GLS XLIV-LII
  • Gypsiologist Papers: GLS B-G

Conditions Governing Use

Letterbooks GLS A26-30 have been microfilmed to preserve the fragile originals, and readers requesting this material will be routinely asked to use the microfilms.


Reference Number(s) GLS A1-35, GLS I-XLIII
Dates of Creation 1907-1973
Physical Description 25 bound volumes, 42 boxes

Scope and Content

The group Correspondence contains letterbooks of incoming correspondence to Scott Macfie and the Gypsy Lore Society, 1907-1912 and outgoing correspondence of Scott Macfie, 1907-1921. Also includes loose incoming correspondence to Dora Yates and the Gypsy Lore Society, 1926-1973.

Letterbooks: Incoming

Reference Number(s) GLS A1-25
Dates of Creation 1907-1912
Physical Description 25 bound volumes

Scope and Content

21 bound letterbooks of incoming correspondence to Scott Macfie and the Gypsy Lore Society, all self-indexed; with 4 bound volumes of miscellaneous lists.


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent within years

  • GLS A/1: 1907 Jan-July
  • GLS A/2: 1907 preliminary advertising
  • GLS A/3: 1907 Aug-Dec
  • GLS A/4: 1908 Jan-July
  • GLS A/5: 1908 July-Dec, correspondents A-M
  • GLS A/6: 1908 correspondents M-Y
  • GLS A/7: to July 1908 miscellaneous lists
  • GLS A/8: 1909 Jan-June, correspondents A-L
  • GLS A/9: 1909 Jan-June, correspondents P-Y
  • GLS A/10: 1909 July-Dec, correspondents A-O
  • GLS A/11: 1909 July-Dec, correspondents P-Y
  • GLS A/12: 1910 Jan-June, correspondents A-O
  • GLS A/13: 1910 Jan-June, correspondents P-Y
  • GLS A/14: 1910 July-Dec, correspondents A-J
  • GLS A/15: 1910 July-Dec, correspondents K-W
  • GLS A/16: to July 1910, miscelllaneous lists
  • GLS A/17: 1911 Jan-June, correspondents A-L
  • GLS A/18: 1911 Jan-June, correspondents M-Z
  • GLS A/19: 1911 July-Dec, correspondents A-M
  • GLS A/20: 1911 July-Dec, correspondents O-W
  • GLS A/21: 1912 Jan-June, correspondents A-O
  • GLS A/22: 1912 Jan-June, correspondents P-W
  • GLS A/23: 1912 July-Dec, correspondents A-L
  • GLS A/24: 1912 July-Dec, correspondents M-W
  • GLS A/25: miscellaneous lists

Letterbooks: Outgoing

Reference Number(s) GLS A26-A35
Dates of Creation 1907-1921
Physical Description 10 bound volumes

Scope and Content

10 letterbooks of MS flimsy copies of outgoing letters written by Scott Macfie on Gypsy and Gypsy Lore Society matters. Macfie has indexed each volume.


Arranged chronologically

  • A26: 1907 (Feb-Sept)
  • A27: 1907 (Sept-Dec); 1908 (Jan-June)
  • A28: 1908 (June-Dec); 1909 (Jan-Mar)
  • A29: 1909 (Mar-Nov)
  • A30: 1909 (Nov-Dec); 1910 (Jan-Aug)
  • A31: 1910 (Sept-Dec); 1911 (Jan-July)
  • A32: 1911 (July-Dec); 1912 (Jan-April)
  • A33: 1912 (April-Dec); 1913 (Jan-April)
  • A34: 1913 (April-Dec); 1914 (Jan-Feb)
  • A35: 1914 (Feb-Aug); 1919 (July-Sept); 1921 (July-Oct)

Loose correspondence

Reference Number(s) GLS I-XLII
Dates of Creation 1926-1973
Physical Description 31 boxes

Scope and Content

Letters and allied documents sent to the Gypsy Lore Society and to Dora Yates up to the death of Dora Yates, 12 Jan 1974.


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent within years

  • GLS I-IX (1926-1939), including F.G. Ackerley, Jules Bloch, H.J. Francis, W.W. Gill, B.J. Gilliat-Smith, F.G. Huth, F.S. Krauss, John Myers, Alexander Petrovic, Henry W. Shoemaker, Gordon Brands von Stöckler, J.A. Twemlow, Max L. Wagner, Hanns Weltzel, E.O. Winstedt
  • GLS X-XII (1940-1946), including Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald, Rade Uhlik, Bernard M. Williams
  • GLS XIII (1947), including Helge Refsum, Reinhold Regensburger, C.H. Tillhagen
  • GLS XIV (1948), including BBC
  • GLS XV (1949), including Juliette de Baïracli-Levy, Charles F. Payne
  • GLS XVI (1950), including Andrew McCormick, Andrew McFarlane
  • GLS XVII (1951), including Helge Refsum
  • GLS XVIII (1952), including H.J. Francis, Otto Pankok, Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald
  • GLS XIX (1953), including C.H. Tillhagen
  • GLS XX (1954), including Dora M. German, University of Leeds
  • GLS XXII (1955), including B.J. Gilliat-Smith
  • GLS XXIII (1956), including Ruth Partington
  • GLS XXIV (1957), including Kamill Erdös, F.G. Huth
  • GLS XXV (1958), including B.J. Gilliat-Smith, George S. Warburg
  • GLS XXVI (1959), including David W. Pickett
  • GLS XXVII (1960), including Basil Rakoczi, Brian Raywid
  • GLS XXVIII (1961), including Kamill Erdös, Daphne R. Maurice
  • GLS XXIX (1962), including O. van Kappen, Reinhold Regenburger, Endre Spur
  • GLS XXX (1963), including H. Arnold, Charles Duff, H.J. Francis, B. Gilliat-Smith, Walter Starkie, Derek Tipler, R.A.R. Wade
  • GLS XXXI (1964), including Mary Boyer, Walter Starkie, Sharon Uretz
  • GLS XXXII (1965), including H. Arnold, Charles Duff, R.A.R. Wade
  • GLS XXXIII-XXXIIIA (1966), including Juliette de Baïracli-Levy, B. Gilliat-Smith, C-H. Tillhagen
  • GLS XXXIV (1967), including Werner Cohn, Robert Dawson, Donald Kenrick, Bruce Rodgers
  • GLS XXXV (1968), including Imre Csenki, Robert Dawson, Ian Hancock, Lech Mroz
  • GLS XXXVI (1969), including H. Arnold, Werner Cohn, Sir Angus Fraser, Donald Kenrick, Frederic Max
  • GLS XXXVII (1970), including Juliette de Baïracli-Levy, Werner Cohn, Sir Angus Fraser, Ian Hancock, Arthur R. Ivatts, Basil Rakoczi
  • GLS XXXVIII (1971), including Werner Cohn, H.J. Francis, Donald Kenrick, Jeremy SandfordFrancois de Vaux de Foletier
  • GLS XXXIX (1972), including Thomas Acton, P.J. Barsby, Anna Duirchova, H.J. Francis, Sir Angus Fraser
  • GLS XL (1973), including Anna Duirchova
  • GLS XLI (letters from H.J. Francis and R.A.R. Wade to Dora Yates, 1973)
  • GLS XLII (letters to Dora Yates, 1970-1973), including Helen Murray

Separated Material

Photographs sent with correspondence were mostly removed and filed separately. See SMGC 1/2


Reference Number(s) GLS XLIII
Dates of Creation 1870s-1968
Physical Description 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters and postcards removed from SMGC manuscripts sequence (SMGC 3), and SMGC Photographs (SMGC 1) arranged by date and recipient:

  • 1. F.G. Ackerley (from R.A. Scott Macfie, c.1912; J.R. Moriarty, 1920: 1 item, 2 pieces)
  • 2. Canon Bartlett (from Dora Yates, 1933: 1 item)
  • 2a.Duncan Brissenchen (unidentified correspondent, 1905: 1 item)
  • 3. Rupert Croft-Cooke: notes on letters from Dora Yates held at the University of Texas (n.d.: 1 item, 5 pieces)
  • 3a.H.T. Crofton (from Marion and Hugh Baikie, n.d.)
  • 4. William Ferguson (from Fred Shaw, 1908 and James Smith, 1912: 2 items, 5 pieces)
  • 5. H.J. Francis (from Andrew McFarlane, 1952; F.G. Ackerley and Eric Partridge, 1954; F.G. Huth, 1956; Helen Card, 1966: 5 items, 8 pieces)
  • 6. Francis Hindes Groome, with his letters to C.G. Leland, Dr Bath Smart, H.T. Crofton (60 items, 109 pieces, 1870s-1890s);
  • 7. George Hall (from Scott Macfie: 5 items, 6 pieces 1907-1908)
  • 8. Kamm (from Janaki Majumdar: 1 item, 1959)
  • 9. C.G. Leland (from David MacRitchie: 1 item, 1899)
  • 10. Andrew McCormick (from George Meredith, 1906: 1 item)
  • 11. RASM (from Esmeralda Groome, c.1892; Taw Wood, c.1901; A. von Cluwer, 1910; F.W. Brepohl, 1910-1911; Alexander Russell, 1911, 1914; unidentified, 1911; Cassandra, 1912; R. Urban, 1913; Capt Jepson, 1913; unidentified, 1917; Arthur Stratton, 1922; Ehrenborg, 1923; W.J. Caparue, 1931; E.O. Winstedt, 1933; Alexander Petrovic, 1935: 30 pieces)
  • 12. John Sampson (from Kuno Meyer, 1903; A.I. Marshall, 1904; unidentified, 1905; Edward Nicholas, 1907; George Hall, 1909; R.C. Bosanquet, c.1910; Augustus John, 1910; J. Glyn Davies, 1911; unidentified, 1912; R.A. Scott Macfie, 1913; Frederic Max, 1919; A. watts, 1922; M. Praz, 1926; Bernard Gilliat-Smith, n.d.; Townley Searle, n.d.; unidentified, n.d.: 4 items, 4 pieces)
  • 13. Doris Stephens (from Nancy Thomas, c.1939: 1 item, 1 piece)
  • 14. T. W. Thompson (from Leite de Vasinscelly; Bernadzikowski, 1927; R.M. Hewitt, 1931; Biana, 1931; Amy G. Black, 1931; with his correspondence with H.J. Francis, 1923-24 and Woodfine Smith pedigree: 17 items, 30 pieces)
  • 15. Dora Yates (from R.M. Dawkins, n.d.; Esmeralda Groome, n.d.; RASM, n.d.; Mrs Green, 1920s; Fred Shaw, 1926; T.W. Thompson, 1931; Arthur H.T. Boswell, 1932; Jean Perigault, 1932; Edmund Muller, 1933; unidentified, 1933; F.S. Atkinson, 1934; Alfred James, 1934; Easton Esnault, 1935; Walter Starkie, 1935; unidentified, 1936; Doris Stephens, c.1936; 16 letters acknowledging receipt of the Scott Macfie catalogue, 1936; unidentified, photos of Nottingham Goose Fair, 1938; Endre Spur, Budapest, 1938-1939; Malcolm Burr, 1939, 1950-52; F. Cowles, 1939; F.G. Huth, 1940; Kenneth Povey, 1940; J.A. Twemlow, 1940; Helge Refsum, 1946, 1951-1952; Ethel Tauszky, 1947; P.J.W. Kilpatrick, 1948, 1957; Juliette de Baïracli-Levy, 1949-1962; Tom Clarke, 1951; Angus Fraser, 1953; M.A. Murray, 1953; F.W. Robins, 1953; Gilbert Mather, 1954; Gwen Purcell, 1955; Matéo Maximoff, 1956; Ernest Marwick, 1956; A.C. Phillips, 1956, 1960; 'Lungr' (Kamill Erdös), 1957; Charles A. Francis, 1958; Georgina Traverso, 1958, 1967; Norman Dodds, 1962; C.A. Cooper, 1963; Peter Davies, 1964-1968; Joanna Halpin, 1965; Jeremy Woolfe, 1967; Eva Davidova, 1970, n.d.; Eileen, 1970-71; and her letters to 'Primrose', 1950 and Walter Starkie, 1968: 113 pieces)
  • 16. unidentified recipients: (11 items, 16 pieces 1886-1962)

Administrative materials

Reference Number(s) GLS XLIV-LII
Dates of Creation c.1888-1973
Physical Description 18 boxes

Scope and Content

Material relating to the administrative history of the Gypsy Lore Society.

Letters from Edward Harvey.

Reference Number(s) GLS XLIV
Dates of Creation 1942-1947
Physical Description 1 box

Scope and Content

Correspondence from Edward Harvey and from others relating to him; with MS and typescripts by Harvey.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Harvey, a Liverpool man and member of the Gypsy Lore Society considered his material had been published in the JGLS without due acknowledgement. He was strongly opposed to the Gypsy Lore Society's approval of Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald's Gypsies of Britain (1944). With Counsel's Opinion on the Gypsy Lore Society's right to the name, which Harvey claimed was his.

Letters from T. & A. Constable.

Reference Number(s) GLS XLV
Dates of Creation 1957-1966, 1970-1973
Physical Description 1 box

Scope and Content

Correspondence with T & A Constable, printers, concerning the printing of the JGLS (1970-1973), with JGLS stock sheets (1957-1966).


  • GLS XLV 1-80: Oct 1970-June 1972.
  • GLS XLV 81-159: June 1972-Nov 1973

Orders for Gypsy Lore Society Journal.

Reference Number(s) GLS XLVI-XLVII
Dates of Creation 1940-1979
Physical Description 2 boxes

Scope and Content

Correspondence relating mainly to orders for back numbers of the journal, largely from Constables


Arranged alphabetically

  • GLS XLVII 1-24: Subscription Requests, Jan 1958 - Sept 1970
  • GLS XLVII 25-272: Orders for the JGLS, Sept 1945-April 1971
  • GLS XLVII 273-372: Subscription Requests, 1940-1979

Society addresses.

Reference Number(s) GLS XLVIII
Dates of Creation c.1889
Physical Description 3 items

Scope and Content

Society addresses plus members and subscribers lists. Gypsy Lore Society Addresses cover label is inscribed "MacRitchie's original list" in R.A. Scott Macfie's hand, n.d.; Members of the Gypsy Lore Society, 4p David MacRitchie's hand, n.d.; Subscribers' list for the year ending 30 June 1889, 3p, n.d. (unknown hand).



  • GLS XLVIII 1: Gypsy Lore Society Addresses
  • GLS XLVIII 2: Members of the Gypsy Lore Society
  • GLS XLVIII 3: List of subscribers to the Gypsy Lore Society

Membership lists.

Reference Number(s) GLS XLIX-L
Dates of Creation c.1906-1973
Physical Description 1 box, 98 items

Scope and Content

Typescript membership lists with corrections and additions by Dora Yates; printed list of members, with MS additions (incomplete series).



  • GLS XLIX 1-39: typescript c.1956-1973
  • GLS L 1-59: printed 1906-1966