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Archives of the British Labour Party (19th-20th C.)

Documents from the British Labour Party Archive, from 1873-1973. Included are correspondence, minutes, speeches, pamphlets, and leaflets. Within the Party the National Executive Committee, and the early Women’s League are both included. Other materials included are: the correspondence of Arthur Henderson and J. S. Middleton, Soviet Union correspondence (1919-1939), and the scrapbooks of  Marion Phillips M.P. and Ellen Wilkinson M.P.

Included are the complete general correspondence and related political party papers of the infant Labour Party during the period under James Keir Hardie. Over 8,000 further documents are reproduced which illuminate the Party’s early relationship with the Liberal Party, internal struggles with the rank and file, and the development of party policy.  The correspondence covered in this collection contains letters of prominent individuals such as Rogers, Pease, Hardie and MacDonald, details concerning local organisation and administration, letters relating to affiliation, candidates, by-elections, conferences and committee meetings, and correspondence on many other subjects. In addition, the records of the War Emergency Workers’ National Committee (WNC), 1914-1918, provide valuable source material for understanding the impact of the First World War on the British working class, industry and the power of the Government. Within the Party, the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the early Women’s League are both included. The minute and agenda books of the NEC cover the period 1900-1973. The Women’s Labour League (WLL) records cover the period from its foundation in 1906 to 1918 when it became fully integrated into the Labour Party. The WLL was an organisation of women working for independent Labour representation in close relationship with the Labour Party, and to obtain direct representation of women in Parliament and on local authorities. Prominent among the League’s activists were Margaret MacDonald, Mary Middleton, Dr. Marion Phillips and Katherine Bruce Glasier. Unfortunately the collection lacks the conference reports and journals of the Women’s Labour League and the Labour Party Women’s Organisation, 1906-1977.  Other materials included are: the correspondence of Arthur Henderson and J. S. Middleton; Soviet Union correspondence (1919-1939); information on the activities of the Communist Party in the 1920s and local fascist groups in the 1930s; the papers of the International and Commonwealth Committees and the Advisory Committees on International Questions and Imperial Questions covering the period from 1919-1965; the scrapbooks of Marion Phillips M.P. and Ellen Wilkinson M.P.; and a collection of speeches from the 1960s and 1970s.

The archives of the Labour Party Research Department are also held on microfilm, for the years 1962-1979 (i.e. Parts 2-4 of the Labour History 1941-1979 Series 1 collection; Part 1 is not held). The memoranda and information papers contained in the collection provide information on such topics as Britain’s entry into the Common Market, the threat of devaluation, trade union and labour relations, equality for women, Northern Ireland, inflation following the oil crisis and discussions of an alliance with the Liberal Party. These documents are therefore an invaluable source for understanding the factual analysis lying behind the Party’s policies, whether in Opposition or in Government.

Related microfilm collections include the Newport Labour Party archives for the years 1912-1977, and the Colne Valley Labour Party archives for the years 1893-1909.

Printed runs of the Labour Party annual reports are held for the years 1900-1905, 1909-1965 (with a few gaps).

Date range: 1873-1983

Significance: Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom

Size: Over 2,000 microfiche and 100 microfilm rolls, plus several hundred printed volumes.

Language: English

Keywords: Politics, Labour Party, history, economics, Independent Labour Party, Britain, Wales

Notes: The collection lacks the section covering Women and the Labour Movement: Conference reports and Journals of the Women’s Labour League and the Labour Party Women’s Organisation, 1906-1977.

A selection of archives on microfilm for the Independent Labour Party are also held; these cover the Annual Reports for the years 1893-1932, and the Minute Books for 1893-1909.

Archives for the Parliamentary Labour Party are held for the years 1941-1969 on microfiche.  These include: Administrative Committee minutes 1941-1945; Executive Committee minutes 1923-1937; Liaison Committee minutes 1945-1968; Parliamentary Committee minutes 1951-1964; and Parliamentary Labour Party Minutes 1906-1968. The collection documents the growth of the PLP from its Edwardian origins in 1906 to their landslide victory of 1945. It illustrates how the PLP responded to the challenges of the 1950s and charts the internal divisions that developed in the aftermath of the 1951 defeat.

Related collections include the John Reynolds collection (several hundred pamphlets on socialism); the British Trades Union Congress archive; Francis Place Papers; Public Order, Discontent and Protest; Working Class AutobiographiesRare Radical and Labour Periodicals; and the Cardiff Trades Union Council archive.