Tom Mann was born in Foleshill, Coventry, in 1856. Starting work at the age of nine, he eventually found his trade as an engineer in Birmingham and London, joining the Amalgamated Society of Engineers in 1881. An attempt to become the union's General Secretary in 1892 failed, but Mann had already gained fame as the leader of the 1889 London dock strike, and he became President of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers' Union of Great Britain and Ireland in the same year (a post he held until 1893). Mann's political interests also developed during this time, and he became Secretary of the Independent Labour Party in 1894. An advocate of direct trade union action, Mann was imprisoned several times, both in Britain and abroad. Mann's career was truly international, and in 1896 he founded and became the first President of the International Transport Workers' Federation. He continued to be active in the labour movement throughout his life, co-founding the British Communist Party in 1920, and becoming General Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (1919-20) and its successor, the Amalgamated Engineering Union (1920-1).
Tom Mann first visited Russia in 1921 to attend the founding congress of the Red International of Labour Unions (Profintern), where he served as the British representative on the Presidium. Once the congress had concluded Mann travelled along the Volga to the famine-hit areas of Samara, accompanying the Commission of Inquiry headed by Mikhail Kalinin. He continued to travel to the Soviet Union to attend meetings of the Profintern during the 1920s and 1930s.
- Russia in 1921. Tom Mann's account of his first visit to Russia, published as a pamphlet by the British Bureau of the Red International of Labour Unions.
- Scrapbook, including photographs of the founding congress of the Red International of Labour Unions, boat travel on the Volga, and famine refugees in Samara, 1921.
- Correspondence sent by Tom Mann to his family during his 1921 visit to Russia. Includes letters recording his initial impressions as a visitor to the Third Congress Of The Communist International, and his short descriptions of meeting Lenin and Trotsky.
- Scrap of paper containing a dedication to Tom Mann from Leon Trotsky, 1921.
- Notebook containing notes made during Tom Mann's visit to the famine area near Samara, August-September 1921.
- Correspondence sent by Tom Mann to his family during his 1924 visit to the Soviet Union. Includes letter describing his journey to and initial impressions of Kemerovo, Siberia.
- Notebook containing notes made during Tom Mann's 1924 visit.
- Russian identity cards in the name of Tom Mann, 1924.
- Correspondence sent by Tom Mann to his family during his 1926 visit to the Soviet Union.
- Correspondence sent by Tom Mann to his family during his 1927 visit to the Soviet Union, including letters sent from Vladivostok whilst travelling to China for the National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
- Four photographs taken during Tom Mann's 1924 and 1926 visits.
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