The Modern Records Centre and University of Warwick Library Special Collections have thousands of documents available online in full - contained in digital collections, resources for university modules, online exhibitions and more. This page is intended to be a one-stop shop which allows you to quickly identify collections of fully digitised primary sources by theme.
88 photographs from the archives of the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Many of the photographs look at the reformatory side of the prison system, including shots of male and female prisoners engaged in work and educational programmes in the UK and USA. Photos of British conscientious objectors during the First World War are also included.
The first editor of 'Railway Review', James Greenwood, was a journalist and “social explorer” known for his colourful descriptions of working class life in London. Early editions of the newspaper include Greenwood's articles on the urban underclass of the early 1880s - as well as conversations with workers, the collection also includes reports on a visit to Newgate prison, a reformers' dinner for young offenders, and the effects of slum clearance on London's thieves.
Digitised sources on education in Britain between 1943-2015, with links to catalogue descriptions of other potentially relevant (but undigitised) material.
Includes sections on 'The 1944 Education Act and post-war reconstruction', 'Selective education and the eleven-plus', 'Class and income', 'Gender', 'Race and religion', 'Sex and sexuality', 'Changing state: the 1988 Education Reform Act', 'Teachers and teaching: changing practices, roles and identities', 'The forces of privatisation: from New Labour to the present', 'The making and shaping of higher education' and 'Student roles and identities in higher education'.
Five films about student life and activism have been digitised by the Modern Records Centre: 'This is your union', c.1963, and 'Student life', c.1972, contrasting promotional films about the National Union of Students; 'The chosen few' on the shortage of university places, 1963; 'On campus', a documentary on student life at Warwick in 1970; and a film about the pro-Communist World Festival of Youth and Students, held in East Berlin in 1973.
Student newspapers produced at the University of Warwick between 1965 to 1991: "Giblet" (1965-1967), "Campus" (1967-1973), "The Warwick Boar" (1973-1991) and feminist magazine "Cobwebs" (1986-1987).
Undergraduate prospectuses from the University of Warwick Archive at the Modern Records Centre.
The prospectuses reveal how the University has marketed itself since its foundation in 1965, provide a snapshot of student life and campus facilities in different decades and are a quick way of finding out when particular degrees were introduced and various departments were created.
210 audio recordings of interviews with those who have studied, worked and lived near the university since its creation in 1965. The interviews were undertaken by the Institute of Advanced Study to mark the 50th anniversary of the University.
Digitised sources relating to aspects of feminism, politics, and social change from the 1870s onwards, with links to catalogue descriptions of other potentially relevant (but undigitised) material.
Includes sections on the Victorian women's movement, the suffrage movement, feminism and family, sex and abortion, and the Women's Liberation Movement.
Audio recordings of interviews conducted in 1980 as part of a study of the part-time employment of women in various parts of the private and public sectors in Coventry. The interviews provide evidence of attitudes to part-time work and women’s employment generally whilst some also contain descriptions of the tasks undertaken in particular jobs.
Interviews about the experiences of women workers at Courtaulds and GEC in Coventry, 1920-1940, are also available (recorded in 1984). There is also a full list of digitised interviews of female workers, managers and others arranged by employment sector.
Management training soundtracks from the 1960s including portrayals of women in the workplace.
Six issues of the feminist magazine 'Cobwebs', produced by the University of Warwick Women's Journal Society between 1986-1987.
Documents relating to the 'New Woman' and the bicycle - fashion, racing, romance and challenging the gender status quo during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Publicity material from the British fight against prohibition, 1920-1926.
Key themes include Anti-Americanism ("aliens" coming over and interfering with British liberties), appeals to the working class (including new women voters), fears of unemployment and increased taxation, the effects of alcohol on health, and concerns over criminality and immorality caused by Prohibition.
260 documents relating to British healthcare during the first half of the 20th century.
The collection focuses particularly on the debate over how the health of the nation should be managed and the campaign for a state-run health service, and includes sources on the Beveridge Report and the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948.
Sources on social welfare in Britain between 1886-1976.
Includes digitised sources on the Beveridge Report and the formation of the National Health Service, and extracts from additional documents on 'pauperism' and charity, unemployment, housing, healthcare and social security.
26 interviews with some of the pioneers and formative players in the development of social work teaching and practice, including Eileen Younghusband, Claire Winnicott and Rose Mary Braithwaite. Available as both audio recordings and written transcripts.
Audio recordings of interviews with union activists who worked in hospitals and related services before and after the creation of the National Health Service in 1948. They were conducted by Mick Carpenter of the University of Warwick sociology department between 1979 and 1984 as part of his research for ‘Working for health’, a history of the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) and its predecessors.
'All for one, one for all', a 45 minute film on the history of COHSE which used extracts from the interviews, is also available.
Recordings of a 2016 'witness seminar' to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of Childline, a telephone helpline for children. As well as providing practical help, Childline's work has raised a series of questions about shifting attitudes towards the child and children’s health, social responsibility and individual rights. A digital archive relating to the seminar is also available.
Polemics, notices, songs and other parliamentary election ephemera for Warwickshire constituencies (including the Borough of Warwick) between 1774-1874. A small amount of non-election ephemera for Warwick during this period is also included.
The documents are from the archive collections of the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, and Warwickshire County Record Office.
Documents relating to the fight for political and social reform during the 1780s-1830s. Includes sources relating to Peterloo, early trade unionism (or 'combination', and the Reform Bill.
Digitised sources on British politics between 1884-1989.
Includes sections on 'The crisis of liberalism (c1870-1918)', 'Liberalism strikes back (1918-1931)', 'Keynes and the Empire to the rescue? (1931-1939)', 'Post-war consensus and crisis (1939-1950)', 'Liberal collectivism or social democracy? (1950-1957)', 'The end of Empire (1957-1964)', 'The growing crisis and end of liberal democracy (1964-1979)' and 'The neo-liberal state (1979-)'.
Richard Crossman, a Coventry Member of Parliament between 1945-1974 and Cabinet Minister between 1964-1970, was a regular broadcaster from the 1930s onwards.
More than 300 transcripts of Crossman's radio broadcasts have been digitised, including his early BBC programmes on Nazi Germany during the 1930s, his 'International Commentary' programmes for the BBC Hebrew Service, and a selection of other broadcasts on British politics up to the 1960s.
Some of Crossman's diaries from 1964-1970 (recorded on to a reel to reel tape player) can also be heard online.
Audio recordings of interviews with Harry Wicks by Professor Logie Barrow, made between 1976-1980. Wicks (born in 1905) was politically active in the Communist Party and Trotskyist movement from the 1920s until his death in 1989.
The recordings include recollections of Wicks' childhood in Battersea, the 1926 General Strike, his time at the International Lenin School in Moscow between 1927-30, and meeting an exiled Trotsky in Copenhagen in 1932.
In 1972 five docker shop stewards were arrested and imprisoned after ignoring a court injunction to stop picketing the Midland Cold Storage Company in Hackney, east London. Their imprisonment provoked a wave of strike action in the docks and elsewhere, and the subsequent dispute highlighted the long-running tensions between trade union rights and the law and between union leaderships and their rank and file.
Audio recordings of interviews with leading participants in the dispute were made by Professor Fred Lindop in the early 1980s, and can be listened to through our website.
In 2011 the Modern Records Centre hosted a discussion on the 1978-9 series of strikes known as the 'Winter of Discontent', between Tony Benn (former Cabinet Minister), Sir Richard Lambert (former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry), and Rodney Bickerstaffe (former trade union leader). The discussion was recorded and includes the participants' recollections of the industrial dispute and views on the contemporary situation (in 2011).
15 minute film which attacks the government policy of privatisation (selling publicly owned services to private contractors) in the style of a cheesy gameshow. The satirical film was produced as part of the anti-privatisation campaigns organised by trade unions during the 1980s.
Digitised sources on race, ethnicity and migration in Britain from the late 19th century onwards, with links to catalogue descriptions of other potentially relevant (but undigitised) material.
Includes sections on 'Jewish East London', 'Britain's ports, 1910s-1930s', 'European refugees and fascism, 1933-1945', 'The British Commonwealth and the Second World War', 'West Indian migration, 1948-1958', 'The 1958 riots', 'Enoch Powell and the 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech', 'The National Front and the anti-fascist response in the 1970s' and 'Race, policing and the 1980s riots'.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, employees at J. Lyons & Co. Ltd. worked to develop the world's first business computer - LEO (Lyons Electronic Office).
The archives of statistician John Sissons include key documents relating to the development of LEO. 39 documents have been digitised in full - including development reports, a 'layman's guide' (or manual) and photographs.
A selection of diaries and lantern slides of cycling tours in Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe.
The digitised collection includes cycling tour diaries from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and lantern slides of cycling tours in the 1920s-1930s by the writers 'Kuklos' (William Fitzwater Wray) and 'Petronella'.
Documents relating to the 'New Woman' and the bicycle - fashion, racing, romance and challenging the gender status quo during the late 19th and early 20th century. Includes 38 women's cycling magazines digitised in full.
First World War:
To mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, 100 documents from the Modern Records Centre's archives were digitised and made available online.
From the soldier on the front line to the imprisoned conscientious objector, the woman worker to the wounded ex-serviceman, the sources provide an insight into the far-reaching effects of four years of 'total war' on Britain and its society.
The cartoons, drawn by 'DIN', were published weekly between August 1914 to December 1918, and include satirical comment on railway working conditions and management, wartime social problems (including profiteering and food shortages), the introduction of women workers, the 1918 general election and plans for post-war reconstruction.
Second World War:
Digitised sources in three sections: 'Food rationing and price control'; 'War savings: compulsion or voluntarism?'; and 'The arms trade'.
Small collection of documents on the British home front during the Second World War, included in resources for the module 'Britain in the Twentieth Century'.
14 minute film financed and produced by the workers and technicians of Denham Film Studios in order to promote "Anglo-Soviet Unity and Victory over Fascism". The film contrasts conditions in Britain and the Soviet Union, and calls for divisions between workers and employers to be overcome to aid the war effort. The main character, a shop steward in a British engineering works, also expresses his resistance to women workers being employed in the factory unless employers introduce equal pay for equal work.
In 1909, Britain's first minimum wage was introduced in an attempt to abolish exploitative 'sweated' labour. Files on the Trade Boards (administrators of the minimum wage) in the Trades Union Congress archives include a wealth of information on pay and working conditions in Britain's early 20th century sweatshops, including documents relating to the employment of women and disabled workers. Trades such as tailoring, chainmaking, box making, shirtmaking, laundering, lace finishing and button carding are included.
Photographs published in the annual reports of the Workers' Union between 1911-1921. The reports feature images of the union's activities, including demonstrations, strikes and social events - even a meeting in Hollywood with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.
The General Strike, the largest industrial dispute in Britain’s history, took place between 4 May 1926 to 12 May 1926.
More than 450 documents relating to the General Strike have been digitised, including emergency strike bulletins, transcripts of BBC radio broadcasts and internal reports produced by the strike's co-ordinator, the Trades Union Congress.
The Railway Review, "a weekly newspaper for railwaymen" was produced by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and its successor the National Union of Railwaymen. To help preserve the fragile early volumes, the following editions are online in full: July 1880-Dec 1881; Jan-Dec 1884; Jan-Dec 1885; Jan-Dec 1890; Apr 1891-Dec 1892.
The first editor of 'Railway Review', James Greenwood, was a journalist and “social explorer” known for his colourful descriptions of working class life in London. Early editions of the newspaper include Greenwood's articles on the urban underclass of the early 1880s - including conversations with mudlarks, quack medicine sellers, dock labourers, costermongers and more. The newspapers' cartoons for 1914-1918 have also been scanned and can be viewed online.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in 2018, staff at the Modern Records Centre digitised issues of Firefighter, the union's journal, from 1932-2001.
As well as material relating to fire fighting and the FBU, the journal also includes articles relating to a range of broader social and political subjects - the Blitz, football hooliganism, the anti-apartheid movement and the influence of television on politics are just a few examples of the variety of subjects included.
Filmed (and unedited) interviews with participants in the 1976-1978 Grunwick dispute - a strike of predominantly South Asian women workers for trade union recognition, which involved mass picketing, confrontations with the police and the national mobilisation of the labour movement.
Audio recordings of interviews with trade unionists and management in the Midlands automotive industry, conducted by Mr Paul Worm in 1982-1983. The interviews relate to the interviewees’ previous experiences and to the contemporary situation in the industry.
Management training soundtracks from the 1960s.
Set of lantern slides of China at the start of the civil war, made from photographs taken and purchased by Henry Sara during his visit to the country in 1927. The slides include images of city streets (including Shanghai and Hankow), prominent individuals, public meetings, Chinese and British troops, and war atrocities - some graphic content included.
In 1935 Mussolini's Italy invaded Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia. Fighting against the occupation (by the Abyssinia army and by guerrilla units) continued until the Italian defeat in East Africa in 1941.
This online collection contains 40 leaflets, circulars and other items of ephemera relating to the international (in this case mostly British) response to the Italian invasion.
103 lantern slides used to illustrate a talk on the French Revolution by Henry Sara during the 1930s.
24 items of political leaflets and other ephemera covering the period between the French Revolution of 1848 and the Second Empire.
This series of 121 images shows key figures and events during the Paris Commune of 18 March - 28 May 1871. The slides were put together by Henry Sara for a political lecture during the 1920s/1930s.
Digitised sources on the history of France between 1930s-1960s - contains sections on 'Fascism and the Popular Front', 'Second World War: Resistance and collaboration', 'Algeria' and 'May 1968'.
131 examples of underground newspapers and leaflets circulated during the Second World War. The majority are in French, but two British pamphlets which contain translated examples are also included.
Digitised sources on the history of Germany between 1918-1947.
Included sections on 'Years of crisis, 1918-1923', 'Rise of extremism, 1923-1933', 'Policies of the Third Reich', 'Resistance to the Third Reich', 'Germany at war', and 'Defeat and occupation'.
Digitised sources on Anglo-German relations during the first half of the 20th century, with links to catalogue descriptions of other potentially relevant (but undigitised) material.
Includes sections on the First World War (including the build-up and aftermath); travel, tourism and cultural links in the 1920s and 1930s; changing British perceptions of National Socialism; appeasement; the Second World War and the immediate aftermath.
21 photographs of Germany during the tumultuous years immediately after the First World War - images of demonstrations, protests, revolution and unrest.
Set of 98 lantern slides used to illustrate a talk on revolutionary German history from 1914-1934, focusing particularly on the period between 1918-1924.
Editions of the illustrated German film programme Illustrierter Film-Kurier for ten key films between 1931-1945.
37 press photos of Nuremburg and Berlin during preparations for the Olympics.
34 documents relating to the campaign for Indian independence, including sources relating to the aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and to the 1943 famine.
82 postcards, photographs, illustrated booklets and reports on the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
The documents are from archive collections held at the Modern Records Centre and the University of Warwick Library Special Collections. Most sources reflect Republican views of the events.
115 slides which show photographs and other images relating to the history of Ireland. The sequence focuses particularly on events between the Easter Rising of 1916 and independence in 1922, and was put together by Henry Sara in the 1920s using images from newspapers, magazines and other publications.
Digitised sources relating to human rights, politics and the labour movement in Latin America during the first half of the 20th century.
Subjects include: Mexico after the revolution, Argentina before and after Peron, and the establishment of the Confederation of Latin American Workers.
On 11 September 1973 the Popular Unity (UP) government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet’s military junta. Following the seizure of power, left-wing political activity was repressed and many activists were immediately detained. The Junta was responsible for the torture and execution of thousands of people.
The Modern Records Centre's collections contain significant archive material relating to the Chile Solidarity Campaign and reception of Chilean refugees in Britain. A selection of just over 200 items are showcased in this digital collection.
More than 650 primary sources relating to the relationship between the two countries in the decade following the Russian Revolution, particularly regarding the response of the British labour movement.
Includes documents relating to the 1917 revolutions, the Russian Civil War, eyewitness accounts, Lenin, the 'Red Terror', the Zinoviev Letter, Anglo-Soviet trade and the 1927 break in relations between the two countries.
More than 1,500 lantern slides used to illustrate political talks or lectures by Henry Sara during the 1920s and 1930s.
Many of the images relate to the Soviet Union, and include photographs taken by Sara himself during his visits to the country during the 1920s. Subjects include the Russian Revolution, civil war and social change (including two sets of colourised photos), the changing situation in Russian Turkestan, and the lives of Lenin and Trotsky.
41 photographs of Russia in 1925, taken by Henry Sara during his visit to the country.
These photographs show Soviet Russia eight years after the Russian Revolution and one year after the death of Lenin, a time when restrictions on visitors to the new socialist state were comparatively few. The majority of the photos are of Moscow, including shots of street scenes, a sports day, parades, and memorials to the revolution in the Winter Palace.
Digitised sources on the Soviet Union and Stalinism in Europe.
Includes sections on 'Transforming Russia: the 'Revolution from above'', 'Looking East: perceptions of the Soviet Union in Europe', 'Stalinist culture', 'Communist vs. Fascism', 'The 'Great Terror'', 'The Great Patriotic War', 'The Sovietisation of Eastern Europe' and 'Stalinism after Stalin'.
The Modern Records Centre's biggest digitised collection - more than 14,000 pages of archives about the Spanish Civil War, together with useful background information on the conflict (including a timeline).
The majority of the material - 46 physical files - is part of the archive of the British Trades Union Congress. This contains thousands of documents on a wide range of subjects relating to the Spanish Civil War, including material on key themes such as the response of organised labour and the political left in Britain and abroad, the attitude of the British and French governments, medical aid and the care of refugees, the International Brigade, and German and Italian intervention.
108 slides relating to European and North American imperialism, including images relating to India, Morocco, the Middle East, Mexico, Sierra Leone and Kenya. The collection was put together by Henry Sara during the 1920s, using images from newspapers, magazines and other publications.
42 books from the University of Warwick Library's Special Collections. Includes 16th century editions of works by Italian authors (including Boccaccio), a 1651 edition of Culpeper's 'Physical directory', works by Milton, Stendhal and more.
The Hall Collection contains approximately 600 English plays mostly from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The plays were used as prompt books by Clara St. Casse, an actress, who travelled with various British touring companies in the 19th century.
Much of the collection comprises melodramas and comedies, often on topical subjects. Some of the authors (such as Sheridan) are still performed, others are now (in some cases justifiably) obscure but their works help to shed light on theatrical practices and popular themes of the period.
The University of Warwick's Marandet collection of 18th- and 19th-century French plays is a unique resource and one of the most significant collections of its kind in the country. Most of the plays were acquired originally by a 19th-century French collector, Amédée Marandet, who was himself an actor and playwright. Many of the works and their authors have now been forgotten but the collection is extremely rich in popular drama of the 18th and 19th centuries.
This collection comprises digitised cassette recordings of UK poetry events from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The recordings were made by Professor Emeritus Clive Bush, who donated them to the University of Warwick in 2012.
Many of the sound files are unique recordings of UK poets involved in the ‘British Poetry Revival,’ as well as a selection of connected North American poets. Some of the recordings in this collection offer rare insight into Warwick’s literary culture of the ‘70s and ‘80s, while others document the poetry scene connected to Eric Mottram’s poetry teaching at KCL, such as the Sub Voicive Poetry events organised by Gilbert Adair and Lawrence Upton.
17 documents which look at the explicitly political or agit-prop style of theatre which grew out of the British political left during the 1930s, influenced in particular by developments in the Soviet Union.