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The history of the Trades Union Congress

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Trades Union Congress, we've digitised some of the early histories of the organisation - click on the images below to read the items in full.

Documents from the Trades Union Congress archives have been made available online through several of our digitisation projects, including on the General Strike, the Russian Revolution and Britain between 1917-1928, and the Spanish Civil War.

History of the Congress, 1891

"A record of the work done": 4 page summary of the main subjects of discussion and decisions made at the first 23 Trades Union Congress meetings, published in the 1891 Parliamentary Committee report.

History of the Congress

The Story of the Trades Union Congress, 1925

12 page pamphlet which provides a brief outline of the evolution of the Trades Union Congress. It was published partly to explain the reasons for the creation of the TUC General Council (with "larger powers, enhanced responsibilities, and wider opportunities") in 1921.

The story of the Trades Union Congress

Sixty years of trade unionism, 1928

Illustrated book on the history of the Trades Union Congress produced as a souvenir for the 60th Congress. It includes sections on 'Sixty years of trade unionism', 'Changes in legal status', 'The General Council', 'Congress and Trades Councils', 'Women in Congress', 'The Congress in politics', 'International relations', and 'The Congress and its newspaper'.

Sixty years of trade unionism

70th anniversary veterans' causeries, 1938

In 1938 Trades Union Congress General Secretary Walter Citrine chaired two round table discussions between veterans of the trade union movement, with the aim of collecting recollections of the early years of the TUC, the British trade union movement and working life in the late 19th and early 20th century from some of the surviving trade union pioneers. Edited versions of the "causeries" were published in the TUC's 70th anniversary publication. The Trades Union Congress archive includes verbatim transcripts of the full discussions, which have now been digitised.

Veterans' causerie - men, 13 June 1938

Participants: Walter Citrine (Chair), W.A. Appleton, C.W. Bowerman, Tom Cape, Arthur Pugh, A.B. Swales, Will Thorne, Ben Tillett, Ben Turner and T.N. Shane.


Veterans' causerie - women, 4 July 1938

Participants: Walter Citrine (Chair), Gertrude Tuckwell, Julia Varley, Mary Carlin, Florence Hancock and Anne Loughlin.


ABC of the TUC, 1965

Explanation of the machinery and structure of the Trades Union Congress (a 1965 reprint of a pamphlet originally published in 1954).

ABC of the TUC