Get HSTS headerGet HSTS header Papers of Horace Fildes | The Community Archive
Last updated: 22 June 2010

Papers of Horace Fildes

Collection | Ref # MSS Fildes | Held by Victoria University of Wellington Library

What is it?


Papers of Horace Fildes


FILDES, Horace Edward Manners, 1875-1937 (collector)

Level of description:




Reference number:

MSS Fildes


Horace Fildes was a Post Office official, rising to Assistant Postmaster of Wellington before his retirement in 1929. His mother was the daughter of J.J. Taine, a merchant in Wellington from 1840, and Leocadia di Oliviera, adopted daughter of E.G. Wakefield. Fildes was keenly interested in those aspects of New Zealand history most clearly connected with early settlement, particularly the influence of Wakefield.

Mr Fildes collected books and corresponded with writers on New Zealand history and related topics. He created extensive indexes to his library, and his books frequently laid in notes. He bequeathed his books and papers to the University Library, where they were accessioned in late 1938.

The papers are chiefly letters from various historians and descendants of early settlers, with much of his book-purchase correspondence and some personal letters. There are also newspaper clippings and some family papers.

Record Series:

Series 1. Letters to Horace Fildes, c1908-1937
Scope and contents note:
Fildes corresponded with writers and researchers on New Zealand history and related topics.
This series consists of inwards correspondence, which sometimes carries Fildes' pencilled notes.
Although Fildes kept a letterbook (ref. Fildes 620) recording his outwards correspondence concerning book-collecting, he does not appear to have kept a copy of his general outwards correspondence.
A card index to correspondents was created by the Library in 1980.
Items were further listed in 2007-2008.

Series 2. Fildes' rseearch papers and writing, c1921-1937
Scope and content note:
This is a broad series created for Fildes' own research papers i.e. those not associated with his inwards correspondence. It includes Fildes' own unpublished manuscripts.

Series 3. Scrapbooks, c1898-1937
Scope and contents note:
Clippings were pasted into 26 scrapbooks, of which one has 15 parts. The information in these scrapbooks, and also information from books in his library, was indexed by Mr Fildes into four separate volumes (se Series 4 'Indexes'), titled 'Europeans', 'Maoris', Ships', and 'Places'.
The scrapbooks were originally processed as volumes in Mr Fildes's library, with callmarks Fildes 615 - Fildes 641(a-o), excluding Fildes 618 and Fildes 620 which were separated as they covered inwards family correspondence and outwards letters re book collecting respectively (see Series 6). Item Fildes 626 was also separated.
Volumes contain accession numbers which will relate to the Library's Accession volumes.

Series 4. Indexes, c1916-1937
Scope and contents note:
Fildes was a keen indexer for over forty years, both of his own scrapbooks, of documents which he transcribed, and of published material in his library which did not have an index. His correspondence indicates that he frequently used these indexes to locate and share information for other researchers.
The indexes are usually in hard or softcover notebooks.
Four of these index volumes, titled 'Europeans', 'Maoris', Ships', and 'Places', were published by the VUW Library in 1984, as 'Selective Indexes to Certain Books relating to Early New Zealand; compiled by H.E.M. Fildes, ca.1920 to 1937, and now transcribed by the Victoria University of Wellington Library'. These Fildes index-books record references in some 800 publications to over 900 Europeans, over 400 Māori, over 500 ships and over 700 places, structures and institutions, from the time of Tasman to about 1880. Photo-printed, soft cover, 144 pages. $19.25
It should be noted that although this publication describes the 'European' volume as titled 'White people', this title is not in Fildes' handwriting and is likely to have been added after his death.
This series documents all the notebooks which contain indexes. The numbers and titles printed on the front covers do not appear to be in Fildes' handwriting, and may have been added by a relative or by Library staff.

Series 5. Portfolios, c1916-1937
Scope and contents note:
This series consists of guardbooks, into which Fildes had attached items which he considered of historical value. These consist chiefly of original items, and include original art works, engravings, photographs, correspondence and collected autographs which occur on pieces of correspondence, maps, postcards, transcriptions, facsimiles and copies of historical documents, drafts, ephemera, and clippings.
Many items carry extensive annotation by Fildes.
The pages were numbered by Fildes, and all except volume 2 were then indexed from A-Z at the front of the book. The indexes are by name and include persons, places, ships, monuments, etc, although there are occasional subject headings such as 'New Zealand Flag' (in Portfolio no. 5). Indexing appears to have been completed for Portfolio 1 only; items laid in to other volumes may not appear in the indexes.
These volumes appear to complement the series of Index volumes which Fildes compiled for published works, four of which were transcribed and published by the Library in 1984.
Portfolio index entries were included in the card catalogue 'Fildes Correspondents', which is available in the J C Beaglehole Room.
People of Maori descent should note that all these portfolios contain representations of tipuna, including moko and mokomokai.

Series 6. Collected manuscripts, sketches and ephemera, 1897-1935
Scope and contents note:
These records were not altered by Fildes and have been described according to their original creator.
The series includes: 'What's become of Waring', by Charles Stuart Perry, 1935; Log of HMS Brisk kept by Lieut. C. O. Robertson; Sight bok and private journal of Charles Sharp; Letters of William Curling Young transcribed by his mother; Diary notes of George French Angas; Wellington Sale Catalogues; pencil sketches of 'Tory & Navarino' Kaipara 1840 and of 'Tory Channel Queen Charlotte's Sound 1839' by Charles Heaphy.

Series 7. Material on book collecting, 1899-1937
Scope and content note:
This series includes auction catalogues from book and print dealers in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and America. It also includes the original cards associated with Fildes' book purchases, the A3 broadsheet notice of the sale of Fildes first book collection in 1909, and a letterbook (ref. Fildes 620) recording outwards correspondence and notes concerning book-collecting 1907-1937.

Series 8. Annotations and notes laid into books
Scope and contents note:
Horace Fildes' normal practice was to insert clippings, reviews, and sometimes correspondence, into the volumes he acquired. He often annotated these inserts, and occasionally annotated the volume as well.
The names of correspondents are included in the card index 'Correspondents' held in the J C Beaglehole Room. Other material, for example ephemera, has not been indexed.

Dates covered:

1728 - 1937



Access conditions:

Not restricted

Finding aids:

Card index to correspondence. Summary description in Iris M. Park, 'A study of two special New Zealand collections'. Wellington, Library School, National Library Service, 1961. 'Bibliography of Horace E. M. Fildes', compiled by Patricia Girling-Butcher, n.d., held with collection.

Tell us more

If you have additional information about this Collection please tell us about it by adding comments on the summary tab.

0 comments have been added so far.

Associated with:


Canterbury Region · North Island · South Island

People & organisations:

We welcome suggestions from the public on these keywords / tags. If you feel some are incorrect or missing please make suggestions here.

Login or register to tag items