McDougall Trust

Promoting public understanding
of electoral democracy

About McDougall


McDougall is the independent charitable trust that promotes public understanding of electoral democracy.

McDougall Trust exists to advance knowledge and understanding of, and research into, the forms, functions and development of electoral democracy.

McDougall has developed a longstanding focus on representative institutions, voting systems and elections, whether in government at local, regional, national and international level, or in institutions - including political parties, companies, trade unions, community groups, and voluntary organisations of all kinds.

McDougall's Main Activities, through which its purposes are carried out either directly or via arrangements with others, are: 

Archives and other collections : maintaining McDougall's collections of historic archives, pamphlets, books and other materials on representative democracy including elections and electoral issues (the collection contains the Lakeman electoral studies library);

Quarterly Journal : publishing McDougall Trust's unattributed peer-reviewed journal REPRESENTATION  Journal of Representative Democracy (in association with Taylor & Francis); 

Encouraging, supporting, or providing:

McDougall's potential audiences, direct or indirect, include policy makers, legislators, election organisers, election monitors, researchers, political scientists, historians, teachers, academics, pollsters, students, reformers, campaigners, activists, journalists, commentators, leaders, members, selectors, candidates, all those in institutions and associations that aspire to democracy or use election processes, and anyone interested in how democratic societies are - or could be - governed.

McDougall Trust is an unincorporated association that is a registered charity (no. 212151).  McDougall is registered with the Charity Commission as 'Arthur McDougall Fund' and uses 'McDougall Trust' as its registered working name.


Arthur McDougall Fund began in a Codicil written in 1938 to a Will as a specific bequest, named in memory of a family member, by the philanthropist Sir Robert McDougall who was associated with a wide range of environmental, scientific, technical and political causes.  In 1948 Arthur McDougall Fund was set up under a Trust Deed as a charity.  Its charitable status was confirmed in a precedent-setting High Court case in the late 1950s, as an outcome of which Arthur McDougall Fund became governed by a High Court Scheme, issued in 1959 (with subsequent amendments).


McDougall Trust's collections of historic archives and other materials, which hold extensive and unique items on elections and electoral issues, were handed over to and brought together by McDougall through gifts and purchases from the mid-1970s onwards.  

McDougall's holdings include archives, pamphlets, press cuttings, books, personal correspondence and other printed material, dating from the mid-nineteenth century onwards on voting systems and elections, electoral reform and proportional representation, suffrage and other related constitutional issues.

Many of the McDougall materials stem from or are associated with the Proportional Representation Society (PRS), founded in 1884, the predecessor of the Electoral Reform Society (ERS).  These materials include extensive records of the work of successive chief officers of the PRS, and of Enid Lakeman OBE, the distinguished former director of the ERS and a noted pioneer in the study of voting systems and their effects.

More unusual items in the McDougall collections include:

>  early pamphlets on PR in Britain, America and Australia; 

>  a collection of 97 pamphlets from 1884-1907, including C.L Dodgson’s [Lewis Carroll’s] 1884 Principles of Parliamentary Representation; 

>  a collection of 176 pamphlets from 1864-1918 on PR in Belgium, Denmark, France and Switzerland donated by H.R. Droop; 

>  correspondence of Lord Courtney of Penwith, the prominent turn-of the-twentieth century advocate of proportional representation;

>  papers of the academic and broadcaster Dr J.F.S. Ross.

McDougall holdings also include a set of Reform Acts from 1832 to 1884, and a number of reports on elections held during the 1990s in emerging democracies, Commonwealth countries being well represented.


McDougall Trust's journal REPRESENTATION  Journal of Representative Democracy has been edited and published under the auspices of the Trust since the early 1990s.  REPRESENTATION's origins go back to the house journal, first published from 1906, of the Proportional Representation Society. 


McDougall Trust



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