Introduction to our collection
Working people have always struggled to get their voices heard. The Working Class Movement Library records over 200 years of organising and campaigning by ordinary men and women. Our collection provides a rich insight into working people's daily lives as well as their thoughts, hopes, fears and the roles they played in the significant events of their time.
Our collection contains:
• books • pamphlets • archives • photographs • plays • poetry • songs • banners • posters • badges • cartoons • journals • biographies • reports •
We have information on:
- The trades and lives of people who worked in the past - brushmakers, silk workers, tailors, boilermakers and others
- Trade unions, where people have banded together to improve their working conditions
- Politics and campaigns, from Chartism to the General Strike and more recent protests
- Creativity and culture - drama, literature, music, art and leisure
- Important people who have led activist lives
- International events such as the Spanish Civil War, and aspects of Irish history
Much of this information is held in books, pamphlets or leaflets. Many more stories are told by our photos, banners and tape recordings.
Our collection captures many points of view to tell the story of Britain's working classes from the beginning of industrialisation to the present day.
Our oldest items date from the 1760s. From the 1820s we have some of the earliest trade union documents to have survived.
We have material on politics of all shades. And we're still collecting now - we hold, for instance, the archive of Jim Allen, the Manchester-born screenwriter who worked on Coronation Street and collaborated with film director Ken Loach. We've recently been given a set of scrapbooks from the 1980s People's March for Jobs, and the diary kept by a peace campaigner during her time at Greenham Common.
You can find out more about visiting the library here.