In addition to collecting archives on the history of socialism and the working class movement, the Library maintains its own archive.
This material, dating back to the Library’s foundation in 1933, tells a fascinating story and includes bulletins, reports, education syllabuses and newsletters. The bulletin is indexed and is a key source on the activities of the library and on the acquisition of new collections over time.
The archive also includes the personal and professional papers of individual Librarians such as John Williamson and Andrew Rothstein who were also key figures in British and international Communism. They maintained their own files of press cuttings and ephemera on contemporary strikes and struggles.
For more information about the history of the Library click here. Cataloguing of this material is still in process and, of course, the library’s archives are always being added to.
The Morning Star, founded as the Daily Worker in 1930, is a socialist daily national newspaper. Since 1945 The Daily Worker it has been owned by the People’s Press Printing Society and in 1966 became The Morning Star.
The Marx Memorial Library holds a complete run of the newspaper, which continues to be added to, in addition to part of its photographic archive and some archival material on the history of the paper itself.
The newspaper is a fascinating historical and political resource, charting the history of the British labour movement, international anti-colonial struggles and civil and womens’ rights movements throughout the course of the twentieth century.
Strengths of the photograph archive, organised by individual and subject, include strikes and demonstrations; the Second World War; labour movement figures and London.
Digitised copies of the paper 1930-46 can be viewed in the Library’s Reading Room. A wider reaching digitisation project is currently underway.
John Desmond Bernal died in 1971 after an active life spent as a scientist and political activist.
The Marx Memorial Library had the pleasure of knowing him as its President for over twenty years (1950-71). In 1979 his family donated his collection to the Library.
Being Bernal an important figure within the Peace movement, this archive definitely represents a window through which it is possible to read, analyse and understand the peace movements worldwide. Its richness in terms of primary sources will allow you to understand the peace movements within the historical context when they took place. For example, the wide range of material covering the work of the World Peace Council (WPC), where Bernal became chairman in the mid-1960s, underlines the strong opposition of the institution against the US' role in the Vietnam War. In this regard, the Vietnam War is an extremely rich section. The publications held in the archive vary from personal narrative to pamphlets, from historical books to politics. While the historical records state the use of nuclear weapons under the Nixon administration at the end of 1969, a massive disarmament campaign was advanced by Bernal and WPC.
Disarmament is one of the main and recurring themes in this archive that interested not only Bernal, a pioneer in these terms, but others, too. Just to mention one, Theodor Rosebury, a British-born American bacteriologist. The MML holds part of Rosebury's unpublished works that shape the social responsibility of science. In his writings, he explains the fundamental and ethical obligation that weighs on science and the role of the latter in spreading the awareness of the inhumanity of nuclear, chemical and bacteriologic weapons, openly in disagreement with General J. H. Rothschild's point of view, according to whom "chemical weapons offer about the only means of reducing suffering and loss of life in war" (1970). In line with the debate about disarmament, the archive provides a great amount of Pugwash Conference reports and journals and many other scientific publications (SANA - Scientifics Against Nuclear Arms; WSFW - World Federation of Scientific Workers; Science for Peace journals, etc.) whose activities have been particularly successful in promoting a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction during the Cold War.
To sum up, the Bernal Peace Archive represents a unique source for researchers who are interested in the study and the analysis of the linkage between science and ethic, especially for what concern peace and disarmament; and for the general public who seeks the historical roots of the peace movement here available from World War I to the Nuclear disarmament movement.
To whoever is interested in looking at the Bernal's works in wider terms, then the Cambridge Library is a must-seen as the latter holds his scientific works.
The collection owes its richness to numerous donations from local and national peace movements including those in Newcastle, Bradford, Reading and Surrey and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
At the moment, this archive is in the process of being transferred onto our online catalogue.
The Spanish Collection held by the MML comprises the archives of the International Brigade Association (IBA), donated to the Library in 1975. The IBA was established in 1938 by the veterans of the British Battalion of the International Brigade following their return from Spain. It was instrumental in campaigning for the Spanish Republic, supporting and spreading awareness about the International Brigades, setting up memorials, maintaining contact with sister organisations across the globe and campaigning against the Spanish dictatorship in the 1940s-1970s. The archive includes correspondence, newsletters, photographs, press cuttings, printed ephemera and reports and spans the period 1936-1975.
The Spanish Collection also contains archival documentation of mixed provenance that has been accumulated since 1975 and spans the period 1936-2000 including printed ephemera added to the aforementioned series and the Personal Papers of a number of International Brigaders. These papers include photographs, correspondence, sketches, poetry, diaries and personal accounts of the Spanish Civil War.
In 1936 a military coup led by General Franco and backed by the far right and Catholic Church, attempted to overthrow Spain’s elected Popular Front government. There ensued a bloody civil war which, against the backdrop of the rise of fascism in Europe, is widely considered a precursor to the Second World War. The Western powers adopted a policy of non-intervention, and, while the Soviet Union sold arms to the Spanish Republic, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy openly assisted the Francoist forces providing troops and armaments. In response, over 35,000 from 50 countries, the majority socialists and communists, volunteered to fight on behalf of the Republic in Spain. Over 2,500 went from the Britain Isles. The International Brigades were part of a broader Aid Spain Movement in Britain, a grass roots campaign in support of the Spanish Republic. Across the country funds were raised for medical aid, for food ships, and in support of refugees from Spain.
James Klugmann (1912-1977) was a historian of the Communist Party. He joined the party in 1933 while at Cambridge University and was Secretary of the World Student Association in the late 1930s. He worked for the Communist Party as speaker, educator and writer, and edited ‘Marxism Today’ 1957-77. A member of the Marx Memorial Library Committee 1967-77, he was an avid collector of books, pamphlets and ephemera. Following his death, his collection of radical literature was donated to the Marx Memorial Library. The collection was begun in the Second World War and strengths include Robert Owen, and early socialists such as Bray, Thompson and Gray, the Chartist movement and women’s rights. The Library also holds some related archival material including photographs and correspondence.
As Ruth and Edmond Frow – founders of the Working class Movement Library in Salford - put it in the MML Bulletin of 1984
‘trials, documents, cartoons and drama all have a place in the collection. It is a treasure trove of material, which will be used and valued increasingly as working class history replaces the ruling class version, which has for too long been accepted as the only account of events’.
The vast majority of the Klugmann Library is listed on our catalogue here.
The Library's AGM in April approved a new set of affiliation rates for Trade Unions and related organisations. The MML took the unusual step of lowering affiliation rates for small, local branches (rates now start at £25) with the aim of broadening its appeal. This forms part of the Library's annual membership drive. Affiliates benefit from:
- free guided tours
- reduced rates for hire of central London venue
- free copies of the Library's journal Theory & Struggle
- access to the Libary's unique collections & the ability to borrow books
- bespoke trade union education courses
Affiliate online here.
On Friday 19 June the Marx Memorial Library's original 1938 International Brigade banner will be returned to Marx House, having been on display on Chichester and Newcastle as part of the Conscience & Conflict exhibition on British artists' response to the Spanish Civil War.
It will once again take pride of place on display in the Library's Main Hall alongside a new loan from the International Brigade Memorial Trust - a 1938 International Brigade banner designed by the Artists International Association.