Saturday, 18 October 2008

Working Class Movement Library

Today I went on a tour of the Working Class Movement Library, organised by the Union Learning Reps at my workplace. Embarrassingly, I've never got round to visiting before, even though being in Salford it's pretty local for me.

A library might sound a little dull, but the visit was anything but. While showing us round the amazing collection, our guide gave us a whizz through Labour movement history, relating the collection to people and events. It was a great way to introduce people to some events and ideas that school history never does justice to.

All of us left understanding how people could spend a lifetime poring through the collection, which includes both books about our movement and original documents such as minutes. The most amazing to me was a scroll of signatures that they believe was for the first (1839) Charter. It would seem that the organisers in Ashton-under-Lyne forgot to hand in that section. Oops! A familiar tale to most activists I suspect...

Talking to the other activists on the tour afterwards, it struck us that we didn't know of any book or pamphlet giving an overview of the history of the British working class movement, though the TUC have attempted to do this online. If you know of such a book - I'd certainly be interested.

Disgracefully, the library's funding from Salford City Council has been cut, so they are more than ever reliant on donations and affiliations from union bodies - you know what to do...

If you have old union documents, they'd rather you donated them than put them in the bin. You might not want them, but they may be a great help for research to help us learn from our past.

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