Unexpected Finds: Stumbling Across the Early History of UACES

Katja Seidel |

Unexpected finds are one of the joys of archival research. In September 2023 I set out to conduct research in the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence thanks to a UACES Microgrant. My research explores the career of the US diplomat, economist, journalist and scholar Miriam Camps, née Camp. Camps is best known for having authored the book Britain and the European Communities, 1955-1963. Published in 1964, it is still one of the most detailed and best-informed books on Britain’s first attempt to become a member of the EEC. When writing the book, Camps made use of the insider contacts she had established while working for the US State Department in the 1940s and early 1950s. These individuals then happened to be in leading positions in the European institutions and the British foreign office during the accession negotiations.

At the archives, I was hoping to find traces of Camps in the personal papers of François Duchêne (or rather the collection of sources that formed the basis of his Jean Monnet biography) and the federalists John Pinder and Uwe Kitzinger with whom Camps had worked at Chatham House in the 1960s and 1970s. Camps, with Pinder, Kitzinger and a few others such as Richard Mayne and Roy Pryce, were also pioneers in establishing the discipline of European Studies (I have published on this issue elsewhere). Pinder and Kitzinger also happened to be among the founders of UACES. While Camps featured heavily in Duchêne’s papers, she was less present in Pinder and Kitzinger’s papers. This is probably because in the 1970s Camps turned her back on European integration and focused more on the reform of GATT and the international trading order, so was not prominent anymore among those shaping the scholarly agenda of European Studies.

Pinder, however, was – in his publications, as director of the think tank Political and Economic Planning, and as a federalist activist. He was also a frequent speaker at early UACES conferences. Amongst his papers was the programme of the 8th Annual Conference at the University of Warwick, which was dedicated to the topic ‘Origins of the European Community – Progress and Prospects?’. This conference programme suggests that early UACES conferences were much more historical in their focus, much smaller, much more British, and male-dominated. The Warwick conference was a two-and-a-half-day affair and there were no parallel sessions. Crucially, its’ speakers comprised of a mixture of academics, campaigners for European integration, and former and current civil servants involved in shaping European integration in the early years, with some speakers whose careers had spanned all of these roles. Roy Pryce, for instance, had started his career as an information officer at the ECSC High Authority in the 1950s, and had then worked for Jean Monnet’s Action Committee before he became founding director of the Centre for Contemporary European Studies at the University of Sussex. In 1973, Pryce went full circle and returned to the Eurocracy as a civil servant in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Information.

What does this suggest? Still in the 1970s, Europeanists were a small crowd, not necessarily confined to one (academic) role but switching between functions and, like Pinder, Kitzinger and Pryce, were activists as much as scholars of European integration. Miriam Camps, though more detached from Europe in that period, has to be counted among this group. Although multifaceted, she used each of her roles to promote European integration, transatlantic relations and more specific to her, a rules-based global trading order.



More about the Microgrant Scheme:

The UACES Microgrant scheme is aimed at supporting research for our Early-Career and Individual Members.

The microgrants scheme will provide grants of between £100 and £500 to UACES members to assist them to cover the costs of undertaking their research. The grants are designed to recognise the challenges facing researchers at this time.