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Crossing Borders: Experiences of Immigration in Britain

Using original and provocative material from its collections, ‘Crossing Borders’ examines aspects of the immigrant experience in Britain.

The parallels of the past and present highlight the continual narrative of the immigrant experience.

We hosted an event to support the exhibition and explore its themes. We began the evening with an introductory lecture, which covered a brief history of immigration to Britain. The recording of this lecture can be viewed below. The talk was followed by a guided tour of the exhibition, as well as additional archive sources made available for the event, delivered by MRC Assistant Archivist Liz Wood. The event closed with a post-tour discussion seminar.

Read more about the views and issues expressed in the seminar on the MRC blog.

We have listed some relevant source material on the topics of the theme of immigration. All of these sources are available for use at the Modern Records Centre. We encourage you to come into the centre and examine the material for yourself.


Maitland Sara Hallinan collection:

  • MSS.15X/2/296/1 'How refugees help Lancashire: New industries with secret new processes' 1939
  • MSS.15X/2/323/4 'Speakers' Notes: The internment and treatment of aliens', NCCL, 1941
  • MSS.15X/2/566/216 Dorothy Frances Buxton, 'The economics of the refugee problem' [1938]
  • MSS.15X/2/566/357 'The refugees: Some facts and figures' 1945

MSS.21 [Miscellaneous Series]

  • MSS.21/522-523 Local Government Board: Memorandum No.2 for use of local committees for care of Belgian refugees, with accompanying circular, 1914
  • MSS.21/534 Local Government Board: memorandum re assistance to refugees, 1916
  • MSS.21/1655/246 Chile Committee for Human Rights/Latin American Human Rights Coordinating Committee: 'Britain Closes the Door on Latin American refugees'
  • MSS.21/4319 Broadsheet re South American political refugees in Leamington [c.1978]

Amnesty International

  • MSS.34/4/Y1/8 Report: 'Refugees: Human rights have no borders. Conclusions and recommendations 1997 refugee theme campaign'
  • MSS.34/4/Y1/11 Leaflet: 'Don't play with my future! For refugee children hide and seek isn't a game' 1997
  • MSS.34B/4/MDE 03/002/2011 Europe, Now it is Your Turn to Act - Refugees Forced out of Libya Urgently Need Resettlement 2011


MSS.21 [Miscellaneous Series]

Various Collections:


Coventry Borough Labour Party

  • MSS.11/3/37/44 Indian Workers’ Assoc. Letter on "the employment of coloured applicants" by Coventry Transport Department, 1962
  • MSS.11/3/15/378 Indian Workers' Association to Coventry Borough Labour Party: about race discrimination allegedly practised by city transport management in Coventry, 1 Oct 1958 [MSS.11/3/15/378].

Trades Union Congress

Various Collections:

Racism and violence:

MSS.21 [Miscellaneous Series]

  • MSS.21/1451/88-89, 91 Union Movement: anti-immigration handbills, [1965]
  • MSS.21/1538/377 Socialist Worker: Immigrants - They're welcome here [1970s]
  • MSS.21/1571/9 NF, inc. "British Jobs for British Workers!", handbil
  • MSS.21/1655/259 Commission for Racial Equality: 'Some People Will Believe Anything! Myths & facts about immigration & race relations', 5th edition, 1978
  • MSS.21/4344 Indian Workers' Association: broadsheet re racism [1978]

Trades Union Congress

For a wider selection of sources view our ready-made catalogue search 'Britain: Responses towards immigration'