Fonds - Keith Matthews fonds

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Title proper

Keith Matthews fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Photocopied 1960-1984 (originally created 1500-1984) (Creation)
    Matthews, Keith

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Physical description

76 m of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Keith Matthews (1938-1984), historian and author, was born in Plympton-St. Mary, near Plymouth, South Devon in 1938 and received his BA (Hons) from Oxford in 1965. In 1967, he accepted a position as lecturer in the Department of History, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). He completed his D. Phil in 1968 with a thesis on the West of England/Newfoundland fisheries, becoming a full professor at MUN in 1975. Matthews died in 1984.

In 1971, with David Alexander and Gerald Panting, Matthews established the Maritime History Group, as a centre for the study of maritime history. The mandate of the Maritime History Group included the development of a maritime history archive to support research in all aspects of sea-based activity. He was chair of the Maritime History Group from 1971 until his death.

Matthews is noted for his seminal contributions to the study of maritime history in Newfoundland, particularly the historic links with the West of England, and for his research and publications on merchants engaged in the Newfoundland cod trade. He was responsible for the identification, acquisition, and reproduction of many documents from British repositories, including the Public Record Office, now housed in the Maritime History Archive at MUN. From these he compiled extensive name files related to individuals involved in the early fishery and settlement of Newfoundland.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records collected by Matthews for his dissertation and during his tenure as chair of the Maritime History Group, as well as his prior research. The fonds includes material for his research into the study of the Newfoundland/West of England fisheries, the subject of his doctoral thesis, as well as extensive data on the individuals and businesses involved in the early settlement and trade of Newfoundland, up to 1850.

The early modern documents are a collection of copies of over 1200 documents held at repositories in Britain relating to political development and trade in Newfoundland in the 17th and 18th centuries. The 19th and 20th century Newfoundland documents are copies of individual documents and collections of documents relating to the Newfoundland fishery and its government and politics, drawn mostly from records of the Colonial Office, Newfoundland governors papers and papers of Newfoundland prime ministers. The fonds also includes Matthew's research notes and personal papers.

The fonds is arranged in five series: Series 1. Early Modern Documents, 1500-1800; Series 2. Name Files, 1500-1850; Series 3. 19th and 20th Century Documents; Series 4. Research Notes; Series 5. Personal papers.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

After the death of Keith Matthews, the fonds was donated to the Maritime History Archive by his widow, Kay Matthews.


Material collected and/or created by Keith Matthews was integrated with the holdings of the Maritime History Archive until 1991, when it was organized into fonds and series to reflect the context in which it was created.

Language of material

  • English

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No restrictions

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Users should be aware that copyright rules and regulations may apply to some parts of this fonds.

Finding aids

MHA finding aids 14-17

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Created - May 16, 2013

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  • English

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