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Pacifist History

Although the history of pacifism is not specifically included within the Centre's interest fields, it so happens that, partly as a result of its interest in pressure groups, the Centre has accumulated some important sources for the history of the anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons movements, details of which are given in this guide. Information about archives relating to the anti-Vietnam War movement is included in a separate subject guide.

The names of people or organisations form links to the catalogue descriptions of their archives.

Rowland Barrett

Socialist journalist and campaigner (1877-1950; see entry in Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol.4). Barrett unsuccessfully applied for medical exemption from military service in the Great War; after enlistment he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector at Wormwood Scrubs and Wakefield, having refused to wear uniform. The accession includes some correspondence; also a transcription in "Sound speaking" of a diary of his experiences.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Established in 1958 as successor to National Committee for Abolition of Nuclear Weapon Tests. The deposited records include signed Executive Committee minutes, 1958-68; Sanity, 1961-8, 1975-8; incomplete series of other CND publications.

The Centre also holds:

  • Archives of Christian CND.
  • Archives of Labour CND.
  • Archives of the West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which include papers of the Executive, Regional Council and Annual General Meeting, and subject files relating to particular campaigns, including anti-Cruise missile and the Gulf War, 1981-1991.
  • Marjorie Thompson was a Vice-Chair and Chair of CND, 1987-1993: her papers include Council and Conference papers, 1987-1992.
  • Mary Brennan was Vice-Chair of CND, 1988-1992: the Mary Brennan Peace Movement papers include papers on her work for various peace movements, 1982-1996.
  • Dr. James Hinton was active in the CND in 1980s and chaired West Midlands CND. His papers include the following: European Nuclear Disarmament minutes, correspondence and related papers, 1981-1986; campaign and strategy papers, 1982-1985; Public Information Campaign Group papers, 1986-1987; West Midlands CND Committee minutes and papers, 1980-1984; CND Projects Committee, minutes, agenda, papers and correspondence, 1982-1987.
  • The post-war correspondence of Coventry Borough Labour Party includes some items received from CND, Committee of 100, and relating to nuclear disarmament generally. (References include : MSS.11/3/18/346, 372, 21/259, 384-6, 25/136-7, 141-3, 190, 219-20, 285-9, 27/320, 403-8, 420, 30/312-14, 74/2).

Gollancz Papers

Sir Victor Gollancz (1893-1967), publisher and founder of the Left Book Club, is well known for his support of humanitarian and left-wing causes, which in the post-war period opposition to nuclear weapons. His surviving papers, dating mainly from 1945 onwards, were generously presented to the Centre by his family in 1977. The Gollancz papers contain material on the following themes:

  • post-war reconciliation with Germany (including Save Europe Now movement)
  • opposition to nuclear weapons, including letters to the press, correspondence following publication of The Devil's repertoire (1958), and requests from CND and other groups to speak on nuclear disarmament.

Letters from prominent pacifists and opponents of nuclear war, in the above and other connections, include Pat Arrowsmith, Vera Brittain, Corder Catchpool, Muriel Lester, Canon John Collins and Bertrand Russell.

Howard League for Penal Reform

In 1944 the League circulated a questionnaire about prison conditions to conscientious objectors, on the grounds that information so obtained in the Great War promoted prison reforms. The accession includes approximately 100 completed questionnaires, plus some abstracts and related correspondence and lists of conscientious objectors.

Joint Disarmament Committee

This was established by the TUC, Labour Party and Parliamentary Labour Party in 1929 to examine the economic consequences of disarmament and make recommendations thereon. Ernest Bevin's committee papers in the TGWU deposit include papers of and relating to the JDC, 1929-31. Researchers need advance written permission from Unite, the successor to the Transport and General Workers' Union, before using this deposit.

Sidney Stringer

Leader of the Labour majority on Coventry City Council 1938-67 (1889-1969; see entry in Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol.5). In 1954 he moved that the city should abandon civil defence, and this deposit includes some 200 letters received as a result of this decision.

Miscellaneous Series (MSS.21)

This is a series for miscellaneous ephemera and isolated documents likely to be of interest to political and social historians. It includes :

Lady Allen of Hurtwood

The Centre holds most of the surviving papers of Lady Allen of Hurtwood (1897-1976), landscape architect, campaigner for child welfare, and wife of Clifford Allen, the socialist and pacifist. It should, however, be noted that her husband's papers are in the University of South Carolina Library and that very few of Lady Allen's papers in the Centre refer to his political and pacifist activities.

Trades Union Congress

Amongst files in the TUC archive are a series on nuclear weapons and disarmament in the 1950s (MSS.292/882.71/1-4) and on peace and disarmament, 1922-60 (MSS.292/906/1-907/3).

World Federation of Scientific Workers

The World Federation of Scientific Workers was founded in July 1946, and has enjoyed the active participation of a number of eminent scientists. It aims to deal with all issues involving the social responsibility of scientific workers (laboratory researchers, academics in both the natural and human sciences, as well as engineers). Priority issues include: science and society, science policy, disarmament, science and ethics, and scientific law. For a substantial period of its existence it has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Opposition to the use and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and opposition to various military campaigns, including the Vietnam War, features strongly in the archive of the WFSW. Relevant material is included in much of the deposit, including in minutes, circulars, publications, conference papers and subject files.