Skip to main content

Britain and Europe: Sources at the Modern Records Centre

Britain and EuropeThe Modern Records Centre holds nationally important archives for the study of social, economic and political history, and specialises in collections relating to industrial relations, industrial politics and labour history. Inevitably our holdings are rich in documents regarding one of the main questions of British foreign and economic policy since the Second World War - what should Britain's attitude be towards European integration?

Given the quantity of relevant material in our archive collections, it is impossible to produce a comprehensive guide to all possible sources. This summary guide does, however, identify those collections which are richest in primary sources regarding the European movement, and is divided into the following categories - 'Trade unions', 'Employers' organisations', 'Companies', 'Pressure groups', 'Individuals' and 'Research papers'. More detailed information about our holdings can be found by searching our online catalogue.

Trade unions:

Trades Union Congress (MSS.292)

The Trades Union Congress is a voluntary association of trade unions which was formed in Manchester in 1868. It forms the largest pressure group in the United Kingdom and works to improve the rights and conditions of working people.

The TUC archive contains literally hundreds of subject files (containing minutes, correspondence, reports, etc.) which relate to the movement towards European unity and different aspects of European finance, industry and administration from the 1940s onwards. Organisations and themes covered include the European Coal and Steel Community, the Common Market and European Economic Community, the Council of Europe, the European Free Trade Association, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, EURATOM, the European Productivity Agency, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and economic integration.

Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (MSS.36)

The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC), formed in 1917, was the largest union in the steel industry. In 2004, it merged with the National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades to form Community, the Union for Life.

Although not as rich in Common Market / European material as the archives of the British Iron and Steel Federation and the Iron and Steel Board, the ISTC collection does include some relevant archive material. This includes memoranda on Britain and the Common Market in 1961; pamphlets and reports on the political and economic conference of the Seven (European Free Trade Area), 1960; and documents regarding European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) housing aid.

Employers' organisations:

British Employers' Confederation (MSS.200/B)

The BEC had its origins in the Employers' Advisory Council, which was established in 1917 to consider the issue of industrial and labour relations. The Employers' Advisory Council (renamed the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations) became the BEC in 1939. It merged with the Federation of British Industries and the National Association of British Manufacturers to form the Confederation of British Industry in 1965. Membership was open to employers' organisations rather than individual businesses and firms.

The BEC archive includes numerous files (containing correspondence, circulars, minutes, reports, memoranda, official publications, etc.) on different aspects of European finance, trade and industry, particularly from the 1950s-1960s. Subjects include the Common Market, the European Free Trade Association, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Council of European Industrial Federations, the European Productivity Agency, the Council of Europe, the European Coal and Steel Community, and European integration.

Federation of British Industries (MSS.200/F)

The FBI was founded in 1916 as a representative organisation for industry. By 1964 it had a membership of over 9,000 individual firms and 272 trade associations, and was the largest of the three organisations which merged to form the Confederation of British Industry in 1965.

The FBI archive, like that of the British Employers' Confederation, includes a great deal of material relating to European finance, trade and industry during the 1940s-1960s. The collection includes files relating to European reconstruction and integration, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Council of European Industrial Federations, the European Free Trade Area, the Common Market, and the Council of Europe.

Confederation of British Industry (MSS.200/C)

The CBI was established in 1965 by the amalgamation of the Federation of British Industries (FBI), the British Employers' Confederation (BEC) and the National Association of British Manufacturers. This created a national representative body of employers equivalent to the Trades Union Congress, incorporating not only manufacturing, transport and construction but also commerce and the nationalised industries.

The CBI archive contains a large quantity of material regarding the attitude of British business towards Europe, including minutes of various internal committees and external organisations, correspondence with the British government, copies of speeches and reports. Subjects covered include the European Monetary System and financial policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, the Export Council for Europe, CBI representation on the European Free Trade Association Consultative Committee, and CBI studies on the likely effects of European entry.

British Iron and Steel Federation (MSS.365/BISF)

The British Iron and Steel Federation was created in 1934 as an organisation of British iron and steel producers responsible for the national planning of steel production. It was dissolved in 1967 following the nationalisation of the steel industry.

The BISF archive includes series of files on the European Free Trade Area, European integration, and UK liaison with the European Coal and Steel Community, dating from the 1950s-1960s.

Iron and Steel Board (MSS.365/ISB)

The Iron and Steel Board was set up under the The Iron and Steel Act of 1953. The Board's duty was to exercise general supervision over the iron and steel industry, and it was given powers to fix maximum home trade prices for most iron and steel products.

The Board papers contain material about relations with the European Coal and Steel Community and Common Market during the 1950s-1960s, including papers of the Official Committee on Relations with the European Coal and Steel Community, the Ministerial Committee on Relations with the European Coal and Steel Community, and various working parties, study groups and Foreign Office delegations. The collection also includes a series of files on international trade relations, including within the European Free Trade Area.

Companies:

Standard Motor Company (MSS.226/ST)

The Standard Motor Company was founded in Coventry in 1903 and acquired Triumph in 1944. Standard-Triumph was taken over by Leyland in 1965 and later formed part of British Leyland.

The company records include subject files relating to trade with the Common Market and dealings with the Export Council for Europe during the 1950s-1960s. They also include files relating to trade with particular European countries, including France and Germany.

Pressure groups:

Midlands Against the Common Market: Coventry and Warwickshire branch (MSS.114)

The organisation acted as a pressure group to galavanise local opposition towards entry to the Common Market. It was set up in the early to mid-seventies and was at its most active in the months preceding the Common Market Referendum held on 5 June 1975. It appears to have ceased to function after the referendum.

The collection mostly consists of leaflets and posters produced during the campaign against entry into the Common Market. Some of the fliers and circulars originated with Midlands Against the Common Market, other printed material originated with similar organisations, for example the National Referendum Campaign and the Common Market Safeguards Campaign.

Miscellaneous Series (MSS.21)

The miscellaneous series contains items received individually and in small deposits by the Modern Records Centre. It includes numerous items of ephemera produced by pro- and anti-European pressure groups, particularly in the run up to the 1975 referendum on British membership of the European Economic Community.

Individuals:

Papers of John P. Cavanagh, member of the Federal Union (MSS.350)

Collection of documents relating to the Federal Union and other federalist organisations. The Federal Union's mandate was to encourage the peoples of a group of states to unite permanently and form a central government, in the hope that such a structure could ensure a peaceful world, free from economic crises. The group was set up in 1938 and, following the Second World War, vigorously campaigned for a form of European union or a United States of Europe.

This collection includes subject files on various aspects of federalism (including the Schuman Plan), and a series of publications (including the journal of the Federal Union), many of which include articles advocating European unity. Most documents date from the 1940s and 1950s.

Papers of Maurice Edelman MP (1911-1975), Labour politican, journalist and author (MSS.125)

Maurice Edelman was a Coventry Member of Parliament between 1945-1975, acted as a delegate to the Consultative Committee of the Council of Europe from 1949 to 1951 and 1965 to 1970, and was Chairman of the Socialist Group in the Western European Union from 1968 to 1970.

Edelman's archive includes files relating to his involvement with the Council of Europe, Western European Union, and various Anglo-French organisations; subject files on the Common Market, European affairs, and the aircraft industry (particularly Concorde); and draft and published versions of his journalism, including many articles arguing in favour of a closer working relationship with mainland Europe. Most documents date from the 1950s-1970s.

Papers of Sir Victor Gollancz (1893-1967), publisher and humanitarian campaigner (MSS.157)

Victor Gollancz founded the highly successful publishing company Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1928; and managed the influential Left Book Club (founded in 1936). He also campaigned on a range of humanitarian issues, including pacifism, re-conciliation with Germany after the Second World War, and the abolition of capital punishment.

Gollancz's personal papers include files on various post-war pro-European organisations, including Save Europe Now, the United Europe Movement, and the Federal Union. They also contain many documents relating to relations with Germany, mostly dating from the late 1940s-1950s.

Papers of Clive Jenkins (1926-1999), trade union leader (MSS.79)

Clive Jenkins was a leading trade unionist during the 1960s-1980s. He was elected general secretary of ASSET in 1961, joint general secretary of the newly-formed Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) in 1968 and general secretary in 1970. Between 1988 and 1989 he was joint general secretary of Manufacturing, Science, Finance (MSF), the union formed by the amalgamation of ASTMS and TASS.

Jenkins' papers include subject files relating to the campaign against British membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) during the early-mid 1970s, together with transcripts of two radio and television programmes broadcast during the run up to the 1975 referendum.

Referendum Party papers of Angela Kilmartin, [1990s]-2001 (846)

Angela Kilmartin stood as the Referendum Party candidate for the Essex constituency of Brentwood and Ongar in the 1997 general election. She came fourth with 2,658 votes (5.24%), the sitting Conservative MP, Eric Pickles, was elected with an overall majority of 9,690.

Scrapbooks, publications and audio-visual material relating to the campaign of the Referendum Party both nationally and in the parliamentary constituency of Brentwood and Ongar.

Research papers:

Papers of Professor Catherine Hoskyns: Academic and Research Papers on Women and the European Commission (MSS.543)

Catherine Hoskyns is Emeritus Professor of European Studies at Coventry University and a visitor at the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick. Her main research interest has been in the development of gender politics at the level of the European Union. She has also been involved in various projects examining the potential for democratisation in the committee system of the EU.

Many of the documents in this collection were produced or collated during research for Professor Hoskyns's book 'Integrating Gender - Women, Law and Politics in the European Union' (London: Verso, 1996). The majority of records are written in English, some European Union publications are however in French. Occasionally documents in other European languages are also included. The collection includes material from 1949-2004, although most documents date from the 1970s onwards.