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Douglas Woodruff Papers

Identifier: GTM-790101

Scope and contents note

The Douglass Woodruff Papers are divided into seven series. The Correspondence Series comprises 12 boxes and includes separate sections of correspondence from Evelyn Waugh, Emily Hewett Woodruff (Woodruff's letters to his mother), Marie Immaculee Woodruff, and Mildred Woodruff Tschoeberle (Woodruff's letters to his sister). The letters in this Series contain discussion on a variety of topics, most notably Catholicism, the Tablet, literary endeavors of Woodruff and others, and news regarding notable contemporaries. The second series concerns manuscripts by Woodruff and others, i.e., Christopher Hollis, Fr. Bede Jarrett, and Arnold Toynbee. The Manuscript Series comprises 6 boxes. The Organization Series, comprising 4 boxes, relates mainly to those organizations of which Woodruff was actively associated, including the Oxford Union and the Sword of the Spirit. The fourth series deals with personal materials relating to Woodruff such as photos, bills, and ephemera. This Personal Series comprises 2 boxes. The Publications-Related Series includes various publications that Woodruff was either connected with or contributed articles to. This fifth series contains 3 boxes. The Tablet Series, comprising 6 boxes, contains letters to editor Woodruff, articles submitted and considered, and correspondence discussing relevant issues found amoung the Tablet's pages. This series includes research-related materials dealing with the state of Catholicism in various countries used by the Tablet. The 7th and last series (including 1 oversize) comprises 7 boxes of materials relative to Woodruff's book, The Tichborne Claimaint. Much of this material is primary in nature. The researcher is urged to consult the Curatorial Box which contains a cross-reference files as well as the original detailed working copy of the register.


  • 1850 - 1982

Conditions governing access note

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical notes

(John) Douglass Woodruff, historian and journalist, was born 8 May 1897 in Wimbledone, England, the son of Cumberland Woodruff and Emily Louisa Hewett. He was educated at St. Augustine's, Ramsgate; Downside School; and New College, Oxford. His Oxford career was one of distinction: He won the Lothian prize (1921); received First Class Honors in Modern History (1923); and was elected President of the Union (1923). In addition he was Chairman of the Independent Liberal Club and the New College Essay Society. It was said his only vice was grape-nutes! On leaving Oxford, he became a member of the Oxford Union debating team that travelled through the United States, and later round the world. A fellow team member was his lifelong friend Christopher Hollis.

In 1933, Woodruff married the Hon. Marie Immaculee Acton, the daughter of the 2nd Lord Acton. Mrs. Woodruff, who shared many of her husband's interests, worked closely with various Catholic relief organizations in Europe after the Second World War and her correspondence to Woodruff during this period forms an important and interesting portion of the Papers.

Woodruff's career includes more than a half-century of achievements. He served with the British Foreign Office in Holland from 1917 to 1919. From 1923 until 1924 he was a lecturer in History at Sheffield University, but in 1926 he joined the editorial staff of the Times, contributing witty and informative "leaders." Indeed he is credited with inventing the "fourth leader," a light-hearted piece on some extraordinary bit of news. Although he maintained this position until 1938, Woodruff was also a BBC staff member from 1934 - 1936, and in addition was director of press publcity for the Empire Marketing Board from 1931 - 1933. In 1936, Woodruff assumed the editorship of The Tablet, a Catholic weekly journal and the oldest organ of the Catholic Church in England, which was to become an outlet for his intellectual and spiritual views. By the time of his retirement in 1967 he had made the Tablet not only the leading English Catholic weekly but also one of the most influential papers in Great Britain and Europe, particularly in the area of international affairs. As one might expect, the Woodruff Papers contain an extense collection of Tablet-related materials.

Among his other numerous activities were his positions as Deputy Chairman of Burns & Oats (1948 - 1962); Director of Hollis & Carter (1948 - 1962); and Chairman of the Allied Circle (1947 - 1962). He received many honors, the most notable being the papal Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (1968).

A prolific writer, Woodruff's major books are: Plato's American Republic (1926); The British Empire (1929); Plato's Britannia (1930); Charlemagne (1934); Talking at Random (1941); The Tichborne Claimant (1957); and The Life and Times of Alfred the Great (1974). He died in 1978.


22.5 Linear Feet (42 boxes)

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Douglas Woodruff Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057