The George Louis Beer Collection

A sizable portion of the IHR’s colonial and early national holdings in the United States collection was donated to the library by the widow of George Louis Beer between 1921 and 1925. Over these five years the Beer family donated over 2,920 volumes to the library. Beer was a leading economic historian of early North America and the eighteenth-century British Empire. His work focused on the development of the Atlantic economy and British imperial policy throughout the American colonial period. His two major works on the evolution of the British Atlantic economy, Origins of the British Colonial System, 1578-1660 (1908) and The Old Colonial System, 1660-1754 (1912), were groundbreaking studies that established Beer as the pre-eminent scholar of the ‘Imperial School’ of history. Beer's work stressed the commercial benefits of the imperial relationship and, as such, was in keeping with the spirit of the Round Table group who invited him to become their journal’s American correspondent in 1915, a position he held until 1918. He also attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1918-1919 as a member of the US delegation.

The majority of the volumes donated to the IHR library by the Beer family reflect George Beer’s research interests in the history of colonial North America. His donations included dozens of secondary studies of the American colonies and many archival compilations of sources relevant to the study of early American economy, society and government. Such resources include the Barrington-Bernard Correspondence, 1760-1770, an edited collection of the letters of Sir Francis Bernard the Royal governor of Massachusetts and New Jersey on the eve of the American Revolution, and the Minutes of the Executive Council of New York. Much of the remaining collection of books bequeathed to the IHR by Beer’s widow consisted of works relevant to his later career as a Round Table correspondent and foreign affairs consultant. These works included parliamentary papers for the years from 1884 to 1919 as well sources pertaining to European imperialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including, for example, the Annuaire du gouvernement générale de l'Afrique occidentale française : 1915-1916