Personal papers of James Craig (1871-1940), 1st Viscount Craigavon, statesman and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and of his wife, Lady Craigavon (1880-1953), 1884-1940. Comprising some 300 documents, volumes, photographs and newspaper cuttings, the collection provides an interesting insight into the life and career of the man who was to play a critical and integral role in the evolution of Northern Ireland as a separate political entity. Items of particular note include a series of personal letters and diaries, 1900-1902, relating Craig’s experiences of the Boer War in South Africa, where he served under the banner of the Royal Irish Rifles; an exceptionally good run of 59 volumes of press cuttings, 1903-1941, which are valuable not just as a record of Craigavon’s life and evolving political career (he first secured parliamentary success in 1906), but as source material for one of the most important periods in Irish history, that of Ulster Unionist opposition to Home Rule, the establishment of Northern Ireland etc. As regards the Ulster Volunteer Force there are typescript copies of descriptions by Capt. Agnew and Col. Fred Crawford of the famous gun-running at Larne in 1914. Much of the material in the collection, however, emanates from Lady Craigavon such as a memorandum written by her about her husband's crucial visit to meet Eamon De Valera in Dublin in May 1921. There are also typescript copies of portions of her diaries, 1883-1900 and 1905-1940, important in documenting the important role played by women in rallying support for Unionism particularly after the extension of the franchise to women over thirty in 1918. Other items in the collection include: photograph albums of family and official visitors, 1920-1940, and of cruises taken by the Craigavons, 1905-1914; numerous programmes and booklets relating to the Unionist campaign against Home Rule; visitors' books of the various Craig homes which include records of landmarks in Ulster history such as the signatures of all the notable guests assembled for the signing of the Ulster Covenant on 28 September 1912. It is important to note that the Craigavon Papers do not contain any political correspondence. However, the researcher should be made aware that the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland holds a highly significant number of political papers of Viscount Craigavon under the reference number T/3775.
A particular strength of the Craigavon Papers is the documentation and information which they provide about the Home Rule issue and the background to, and formation of, Northern Ireland. Further, as the papers of one of the principal founders of the new state and its first Prime Minister, their significance is self-evident.
The Craigavon Papers consist of c.230 individual documents and c.60 volumes (largely consisting of newspaper cuttings and photograph albums), 1884-1940.
See PRONI references D/1415 and MIC/584 for catalogues of the papers. The catalogues are available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.