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Archives of the Trades Union Congress

During the 1930s the Trades Union Congress produced literally thousands of files on a wide range of subjects. The TUC was not just interested in the day-to-day work of its affiliated unions, it looked into most topics that could affect the lives of working men and women in Britain. The organisation's strong international links, through trade unions and socialist organisations in other countries, gave it a network of informants on conditions elsewhere in the world.

The Trades Union Congress compiled more files on the Spanish Civil War than on any other international issue during the 1930s, reflecting the impact that the conflict had on the British labour movement. All of these files have now been digitised and are freely available online.

To 'browse' individual files, click on the links below. It is also possible to search across all files.

Due to issues with our content management software, it is not currently possible to arrange the results of searches so that they display in order of document reference number. The results of the searches linked to below are therefore ordered by date.

TUC Filing Department

Spain 1935-1945 (292/946/1)

Correspondence, circulars, bulletins, minutes, etc.

Subjects include: Spanish seamen's strike, 1936; Spanish and Basque trade unions, supply of aid, resistance to Franco, political prisoners and persecution of trade unionists, and Hogar Espanol.

Folder

Spain : Political Situation 1934 (292/946/9)

In November 1933, the Spanish parliamentary elections were won by parties of the political right. Left-wing uprisings against the government took place in Catalonia and Asturias during October 1934 and, in the case of Asturias, were violently suppressed. This resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of many left-wing and trade union leaders and activists (including the future Prime Minister Francisco Largo Caballero), many of whom were only released following the Popular Front election victory in February 1936.

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, etc.

Correspondents include Trades Councils, trade unions (including Ernest Bevin of the TGWU), and the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : General Correspondence 1936-1937 (292/946/10)

Correspondence, circulars, press cuttings, memoranda, etc.

Subjects include: fund raising and aid to Spain, sending of an "observer", complaints at the policy of non-intervention and its breach by certain countries, capture of two members of a Scottish Ambulance Unit, fascist aerial bombings.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : Correspondence 1937-1939 (292/946/11)

Correspondence, circulars, memoranda, etc.

Subjects include: International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) delegation to Spain, Spanish trade unions, the situations in Asturias and Santander, evacuation of children, aid to Spain, transportation of arms by SS Yorkbrook.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : Correspondence 1938 (292/946/12a)

Correspondence, circulars, reports, etc.

Subjects include: Spanish trade unions, aid for Spain, opposition to the arms embargo, proposed delegation of women to Spain, help for refugees, involvement of foreign powers in the conflict; deputation to the Foreign Secretary, Apr 1938.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : Correspondence 1938-1939 (292/946/12b)

Correspondence, circulars, etc.

Subjects include: trial of Spanish trade unionists, aid for refugees, the defeat of the Republican Government, public demonstrations in Britain, deputation to the Prime Minister to protest at the government's policy of neutrality whilst the German and Italian governments continued to intervene.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: Aftermath 1939-1942 (292/946/13)

Correspondence regarding the aftermath of the Civil War.

Subjects include: Republicans in exile, arrest and execution of trade union leaders; possible extradition of Largo Caballero, former Prime Minister, to Spain by the Vichy Government, 1940-2; situations of Harry Graham, Frank Ryan and Gunnar Ebb, former members of the International Brigade, and Gwendolen Adams de Puertas, charity worker.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : General - Documents 1936 - part 1 (292/946/14)

Circulars, reports, memoranda, minutes etc.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : General - Documents 1936 - part 2 (292/946/15a)

Circulars, reports, memoranda, minutes, press cuttings, etc.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : General - Documents 1936-1937 (292/946/15b)

Reports, memoranda, minutes, circulars, extracts from articles, etc.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion – Documents 1937 - part 1 (292/946/16a)

Reports, memoranda, circulars, minutes, etc.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion – Documents 1937 - part 2 (292/946/16b)

Reports, memoranda, circulars, minutes, leaflets, etc., including copies of documents in Spanish, French and English re the split between Union General De Trabajadores De Espana (UGT - Spanish Trades Union Congress) and the Communist Party.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion - Documents 1938 (292/946/17a)

Reports, memoranda, circulars, minutes, leaflets, etc.

Subjects include: visits and delegations to Spain, refugees and provision of aid, conferences, the international situation.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion - Documents 1938-1939 (292/946/17b)

Reports, memoranda, circulars, minutes, leaflets, etc.

Subjects include: refugees and provision of aid, demonstrations, the international situation.

Folder

Spanish Situation - Pamphlets, Leaflets, etc. 1936-1939 (292/946/18a)

Pamphlets, photographs, reports, leaflets, circulars and journals.

Includes documents issued by the National Council of Labour, Trades Union Congress, Labour Party, National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, Spanish Medical Aid Committee, International Brigade Dependants and Wounded Aid Committee, Basque Children's Committee, Mineworkers' Federation of Great Britain, Basque and Catalan governments, British Committee for Refugees from Spain, and the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Folder

Spanish Situation - Pamphlets, Leaflets, etc. 1936-1938 (292/946/18b)

Pamphlets, photographs, reports, leaflets, bulletins and journals.

Includes documents issued by National Council of Labour, Trades Union Congress, Labour Party, National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, Spanish Medical Aid Committee, Communist Party of Great Britain, Mineworkers' Federation of Great Britain, Catholic Truth Society, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and International Brigade Dependants and Wounded Aid Committee.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : Catholic Aspect 1936-1939 (292/946/19)

Correspondence, memoranda, press cuttings, reports of interviews with the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, etc.

Subjects include meetings and discussions with the Archbishop regarding a divergence between the labour movement and the Catholic Community.

Folder

International Conference re Spain : 1937 (292/946/20)

The conference of organisations connected to the International Federation of Trade Unions and the Labour and Socialist International was held in London on 10-11 March 1937.

List of speakers and verbatim report.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : International Conference, March 1937 Demonstration (292/946/21)

Correspondence, circulars, minutes, lists of delegates, resolutions, text of speeches, reports of conference, etc.

Folder

Spain. March Conference : "Daily Worker" Representative and Breach of Confidence, 1937 (292/946/22)

Correspondence, minutes, press cuttings etc.

Subjects include infiltration of the conference by Frank Pitcairn [an alias of Claud Cockburn], Daily Worker journalist, and the refusal of a passport to allow Pitcairn to return to Spain.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : ITF, Shipping from Germany 1936-1938 (292/946/23)

Correspondence regarding German shipping, submarine activity, and bombardment of ports.

Correspondents include the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), trade unions and the Foreign Office.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion : POUM Leaders for Trial 1938 (292/946/24)

Includes correspondence (mostly with the Independent Labour Party) regarding the forthcoming trial of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) leaders; and ILP statement re the trials.

Folder

Spanish Seamen in British Ports (General File) 1939-1942 (292/946/25a)

Correspondence, memoranda, etc., including re provision of aid, emigration to South America, employment in Britain, etc.

Correspondents include: National Union of Seamen, government departments, the Basque Delegation in London, and the Mid-Atlantic Shipping Company Limited.

Folder

Spanish Seamen in British Ports (General File) 1939-1940 (292/946/25b)

Lists of Spanish and Basque sailors, in some cases with information about funds paid to them or the names of their ships; returns submitted by trade councils, listing 'Spanish refugees: Seamen'; circulars and correspondence.

Folder

Spain. Refugees. 1939 (292/946/26)

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, etc.

Subjects include: requests for help for or from particular individuals, enquiries about relatives still in Spain, provision of aid, French camps, emigration to South America.

Folder

Spain. Refugees. 1939-1943 (292/946/27)

Correspondence, etc.

Subjects include: requests for help for or from particular individuals, provision of aid.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: International Solidarity Fund 1936-1937 (292/946/28)

The International Solidarity Fund was organised jointly by the International Federation of Trade Unions and the Labour and Socialist International. British contributions were administered by the National Council of Labour (made up of representatives of the Trades Union Congress and Labour Party).

Correspondence, circulars, statements of subscriptions, reports, etc.

Subjects include: the foundation and administration of the fund, provision and transportation of aid.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: [International Solidarity] Fund 1937-1938 (292/946/29)

Correspondence, circulars, statements of subscriptions, etc.

Subjects include: the administration of the funds, provision and transportation of aid.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: [International Solidarity] Fund 1938 (292/946/30)

Correspondence, circulars, memoranda, etc.

Subjects include: the administration of the fund, provision and transportation of aid.

Folder

Spanish Conflict: [International Solidarity] Fund Collection and Administration 1938-1940 (292/946/32)

Correspondence, appeal leaflets, financial statements, memoranda, reports, etc.

Subjects include: shipments of goods, especially food, milk and clothing; aid for refugees.

Folder

Spain, International Solidarity Fund: Answers to Circular 37, Dec 1938. 1939 (292/946/33)

Summaries of union responses to TUC circular requesting information about amounts given to the International Solidarity Fund, Jan-Feb 1939.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: International Brigade 1937-1942 (292/946/34)

Includes: correspondence, memoranda, leaflets and circulars, lists of trade union members of the British Battalion, reports and accounts.

Subjects include: the International Brigade Dependants and Wounded Aid Committee, International Brigade National Memorial Fund, funds and aid for former members of the Brigade and their relations, prisoners of war in France and North Africa, Communist control of the International Brigade funds.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: International Brigade 1942-1954 (292/946/35)

Includes: correspondence, circulars from the International Brigade Association, leaflets and other publications.

Subjects include: appeals for aid, prisoners of war and refugees in France and North Africa, Communist influence within the International Brigade Association.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: Voluntary Industrial Aid 1937-1938 (292/946/36)

Voluntary Industrial Aid hoped to help the aid effort by producing goods required in Spain by the use of voluntary labour, thus reducing costs.

Includes: correspondence, circulars, leaflets, copies of articles; interim memorandum to the Labour Party Committee on Spain submitted by Voluntary Industrial Aid for Spain, Jan 1938.

Folder

Spanish Conflict: Basque Children 1937-1938 (292/946/37)

In May 1937, nearly 4,000 Basque children were evacuated to Britain on the ship 'Habana'. The Trades Union Congress was heavily involved in the operation to house and maintain the children whilst they were in Britain.

Includes: correspondence, circulars, reports, accounts, leaflets and other publications.

Subjects include: the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief and Basque Children's Committee, fundraising, camps in Britain, provision of shoes and clothing.

Folder

Basque Children's Committee: Correspondence 1938-1949 (292/946/38)

Includes: correspondence, circulars, leaflets, reports and some minutes.

Subjects include: funds and fund-raising activities, homes and hostels, aid for refugees, repatriation.

Folder

Basque Children's Committee: Minutes and Documents 1937-1938 (292/946/39)

Minutes of the Basque Children's Committee Executive Committee and Basque Children's Administrative Sub-Committee (including some joint meetings with the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief).

Also contains agendas, circulars, accounts, memoranda, reports, bulletins, leaflets and press-cuttings.

Folder

Basque Children's Committee: Minutes and Documents 1938-1939 (292/946/40)

Minutes of the Basque Children's Administrative Sub-Committee and Basque Children's Committee.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: Medical Aid 1936-1937 (292/946/41)

Correspondence, circulars, memoranda, reports, leaflets, press cuttings, etc.; including: reports of discussions between officials of the TUC and Labour Party, and representatives of the Socialist Medical Association, re medical and ambulance units being sent to Spain, 11 & 19 Aug 1936; Spanish Medical Aid Committee bulletins; report on the Scottish Ambulance Unit, 20 Oct 1936; report and accounts of Spanish Medical Aid Committee, 1936.

Subjects include: Spanish Medical Aid Committee, Scottish Ambulance Unit; provision of medical supplies, transport, staff and funds; fundraising for proposed Ray Cox memorial.

Folder

Spanish Rebellion: Medical Aid 1937-1940 (292/946/42)

Correspondence, circulars, memoranda, reports, leaflets, reprints of articles, etc.; including: Spanish Medical Aid Committee bulletins; report of visit to Spanish hospital at Ontiniente by Dr H.B. Morgan, 4 Aug 1937; report on 'Blood transfusion in Spain', with accompanying photographs, 1938; report on International Conference for Medical Aid to Spain, Jul 1938; minutes of meeting of Spanish Medical Aid Committee, 29 Mar 1939; 'Despues', no.4, journal published in Madrid, May 1938 (in Spanish).

Subjects include: Spanish Medical Aid Committee, Scottish Ambulance Unit; provision of medical supplies, transport, staff and funds; fundraising for proposed Ray Cox memorial.

Folder

Spanish Medical Aid Committee: Committee Minutes, etc. 1938-1939 (292/946/43)

Minutes, with related reports and circulars. Includes copies of letters from Nurse Madge Addy at Ucles, Jan-Feb 1939; bulletin for Feb 1939; report on personnel in Spain, Sep 1938.

Folder

Spanish seamen 1939 - 1940 (292C/946/1)

Miscellaneous circulars and reports, lists of refugee Spanish seamen in British ports.

Folder

Spanish Medical Aid Committee (Dr H.B. Morgan) 1936-1941 (292C/946/2)

Correspondence relating to SMAC and other aid committees; with some correspondence, etc., re the Catholic attitude towards the war in Spain.

File compiled by Dr. H.B. Morgan, Chairman of the Committee.

Folder

Labour Party Spain Campaign Committee 1937-1938 (292C/946/3)

Minutes, reports and circulated papers.

File compiled by Dr H.B. Morgan, a co-opted member of the Committee.

Folder

Sports - Workers : Barcelona Olympiad, 1936 (292/808.91/4)

Event organised in opposition to the Berlin Olympics. The outbreak of civil war resulted in its cancellation.

Correspondence, publicity material, etc.

Folder

Labour Catholic vote (Dr H.B. Morgan), 1936-1939 (292C/806.1/1)

File compiled by Dr. H.B. Morgan, medical adviser to the Trades Union Congress (and practising Catholic): correspondence, publications of the Catholic Social Guild.

Subjects include: the response of British Catholics to the Spanish Civil War, organising "the Labour Catholic vote", and the opinions and organisation of groups such as the Catholic Social Guild and the People and Freedom Group.

Folder

 

 

Archives from other collections:

Publications from the archive of Henry Sara and Frank Maitland

Henry Sara was born in 1886. Attracted early to social ideals, with the advent of war in 1914 Sara aligned himself with the anti-militarists. Following a campaign of public meetings he was arrested and conscripted, and his continued refusal to submit to army discipline resulted in his imprisonment. After the war, Sara visited both the USA and the USSR, and despite having some misgivings, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1923. Sara became a popular speaker of some standing within the Party, but his own independence of thought and criticism of its leaders led him into direct conflict with them. His association with other "dissidents", including Reg Groves and Harry Wicks led to his being expelled from the Communist Party in 1932. During this time, Sara also worked as a lecturer-organiser with the National Council of Labour Colleges. Frank Maitland was a friend of Sara's, and acted as his executor.

Documents digitised: 60 journals, pamphlets and leaflets (in English) produced by a range of socialist and anarchist organisations, including Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (POUM), the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union, Friends of the Spanish Republic, Confederation Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) - Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI), Communist Party of Great Britain, and the Independent Labour Party.

'The Spanish Revolution'

 

Publications from the Maitland Sara Hallinan collection

The Maitland-Sara-Hallinan collection is a series of pamphlets and journals transferred from the University of Warwick Library Special Collections in 2012. The collection is made up of publications formerly belonging to Henry Sara and Frank Maitland (see above), with additional material from the Hallinan collection and other sources.

Documents digitised: almost complete run of Communist Party of Great Britain 'Notes for speakers', 24 July 1936-8 April 1938 (nos.1-15, 17-35, 37, 39-49, 51-64, 66-81); 54 pamphlets from various organisations, including the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Independent Labour Party (in the process of being added); 45 journals and news sheets, including early Trotskyist publications (to be added during 2013).

Publications from the Maitland - Sara - Hallinan collection

Publications from the archive of Hugo Dewar

Dewar was born in Leyton in 1908. Joining the Independent Labour Party in 1928, he subsequently co-founded, with F. A. Ridley, the Marxist League. In 1931, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain, to support their Balham group then battling against Stalinist policies, but was expelled in the following year. He took part in the founding of the Communist League, the first Trotskyist group in Britain, and continued to be active in "Left Opposition" groups until he was drafted into the army in 1943. On his discharge, he became a tutor in adult education, also writing many books and articles exposing Stalinism.

Documents digitised: 41 journals, pamphlets and other publications (in English and Spanish) produced by a range of socialist and anarchist organisations, including Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (POUM), Juventud Comunista Iberica (the youth section of POUM), Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) - Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI), and the Communist Party of Great Britain.

'Alerta'

 

Publications from the archive of Paul Tofahrn

Born in Manderfeld, Belgium, in 1901, Tofahrn (d.1979) had a lifetime's involvement with the Belgian, European and international labour movement. He was successively an officer of the Belgian Railwaymen's Union, the International Transport Workers' Federation (as Assistant Railwaymen's Secretary, 1928-31), the Food Workers' International, the Belgian Labour Party, and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITWF) again in 1939, becoming Assistant General Secretary. Finally he was General Secretary of the Public Service's International, 1956-1967.

Documents digitised: Two heavily illustrated magazines on the Spanish Civil War - 'Guerre Civile en Espagne' (in French), January 1937; and 'No Pasaran', produced by the Belgian Labour Party in 1937 (in French, Flemish and German).

 

Publication from the archives of the Socialist Party

The Socialist Party was formerly known as the Revolutionary Socialist League (between 1957-c.1964), Militant Tendency (c.1964-1991) and Militant Labour (1991-1997).

Document digitised: Independent Labour Party Guild of Youth pamphlet 'We carry on: Our tribute to Bob Smillie', [1937?].

 

Archives of the Bristol Unity Players Club:

Documents relating to 'On Guard for Spain: A massed chant' by Jack Lindsay

The Bristol Unity Players' Club developed from workers' amateur dramatics clubs which were active in the Bristol area in the early 1930s. These were brought together by the producer Joan Tuckett (1895-1957) to form the Bristol Unity Players' Club in c.1936. The club co-operated throughout its existence with various other left wing organisations, including the Left Book Club's Theatre Guild and the London Unity Theatre.

'On Guard for Spain' was first performed at a Trafalgar Square rally in 1937, and performances of the piece by amateur political theatre groups (including those linked with the Unity Theatre and Left Book Club) became a popular way to engage a mass audience at rallies, fundraising events, and local political and trade union meetings. Further information about the piece is included in an essay on 'Jack Lindsay: Poetry and the Spanish Civil War' by Don Watson (included in: 'Jack Lindsay: The Thirties and Forties', ed. Robert Mackie; University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Australian Studies Centre, Occasional Seminar paper No.4, Nov 1984).

Documents digitised: 2 versions of the script for 'On Guard for Spain', undated; photographs of performance on 25 June 1938.

On Guard for Spain