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Our local history: archive sources on Coventry at the Modern Records Centre


The majority of Coventry's historic records are held by the Coventry Archives and Research Centre (in the city centre). The Modern Records Centre (MRC) also holds limited archives relating to the post-war development of the city and some local organisations.

The first part of this guide - Coventry collections - provides brief information about some of the collections that we hold about the city, including links to our online catalogue which describes the archives in more detail. Like most archive repositories, we have very little material from the past 20 or 30 years - the majority of sources will therefore be from the 1990s or earlier.

The second part of the guide - Themed searches of our catalogue - provides you with selective lists of documents on certain key themes through our online catalogue.

Coventry collections:

Community and pressure groups:

Community Development Project

The CDP programme was administered by the Community Programmes Department (I Division) of the Home Office. Its aim was to examine inner city deprivation and poverty and work with local communities to find solutions. The project ran from 1968 to 1980 and covered twelve areas of the UK, including the Hillfields area of Coventry (included as part of the pilot phase). Reports, discussion papers and other sources on the Coventry project are included for 1968-1978.

Coventry Workshop

Coventry Workshop was an independent research, education and advice centre set up as a charity in 1975 to work with local trade union and community organisations. Its aim was to work with groups at the base of trade union and community movements to provide information, research and help to develop campaigns. It was wound up in 1988.

The archives include minutes and other administrative documents, reports and publications (including the Coventry Workshop Bulletin).

Disablement Income Group

Founded in 1965 to campaign for economic justice for the disabled and chronic sick. The collection includes minutes and subject files relating to DIG's work in Coventry. Most documents date from 1970-1975.


University of Warwick

The Modern Records Centre holds the university's own archive. This large collection includes material relating to all aspects of the university's development, educational work, role in the community and the student experience. Documents include publications, reports, maps and plans, and photographs. University prospectuses and handbooks and issues of student newspapers (including the Boar) from 1965-1981 have been digitised and are available online.


Coventry and District Engineering Employers' Association

The Association was founded in 1907 and merged with the West Midlands Engineering Employers' Association in 1984. The majority of documents in this large collection relate to negotiations and disputes over pay and conditions at local engineering companies.

Political parties:

Coventry Borough Labour Party, 1892-1967

This large collection includes correspondence with other local groups on key issues between 1941-1964, including housing, employment and race relations. There is also material relating to the organisation of Coventry Borough Labour Party and parliamentary and municipal elections in the area.

Coventry East Divisional Labour Party

Small collection, consisting of a minute book, May 1945-May 1948, and notice of a meeting in 1954.

Coventry North Constituency Labour Party

Small collection, consisting of minutes, 1949-1961, and correspondence, 1958-1959.


Papers of Members of Parliament and other local politicians can include reports and correspondence relating to local developments and issues raised by constituents.

Papers of Richard Crossman

Labour Member of Parliament for East Coventry, 1945-1974; member of Labour Party National Executive Committee, 1952-1967, and Chairman, 1960-1961; Minister of Housing and Local Government, 1964-1966; Leader of the House of Commons, 1966-1968; Secretary of State for Social Services, 1968-1970.

Papers of Maurice Edelman

Labour Member of Parliament for Coventry West from 1945 until 1950, for Coventry North from 1950 to 1974, and for Coventry North West from 1974-1975.

Papers of Sidney Stringer

Leader of the Labour majority on Coventry City Council, 1938-67. He came to national notice in 1954 when he moved the motion for the City Council to abandon civil defence provision (i.e. in response to a nuclear attack).

Papers of William Wilson

Labour Member of Parliament for Coventry South between 1964-1974, and Coventry South East for 1974-1983.

Trade unions:

Coventry Trade Union Council (formerly Coventry Trades Council), (1890)-1998

Trade Union Councils or Trades Councils perform the same role at a local level as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) does at a national level - acting as a central voice and area for debate for affiliated trade unions, representing workers in a wide range of occupations.

The archives include minutes and other adminstrative documents, correspondence and publications. Most of the more detailed correspondence dates from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s.

Women's employment - research papers:

Research papers of Colleen Chesterman on Coventry women's employment

These research papers include interview notes, statistics and printed reports on women's work in Coventry. They include items on female employment at the electrical firm, GEC, and papers on levels of female unemployment in the Coventry area. Most documents date from the 1970s.

Papers of Josie Castle, sociologist, on Coventry women's employment

The material derives from research undertaken in 1984 by Josie Castle of the University of Wollongong into the experiences of women workers at Courtaulds and GEC in Coventry, 1920-40. Eight women were interviewed or replied by letter. Audio recordings of the interviews can be streamed through the online catalogue.

Women's Part-Time Employment in Coventry Project

Research papers relating to a study carried out by Veronica Beechey and Tessa Perkins into the employment of part-time women workers in Coventry during 1979-81.


Themed searches of our catalogue:

The Blitz and post-war redevelopment

Documents from the 1940s and 1950s. Includes sources on the initial response to the bombing and first stage of redevelopment.

Civil planning and urban development

Documents from the 1940s-1990s (most date from the 1950s-1980s). Includes material relating to municipal / city council policy on development, planning and public works. The development and review plans, in particular, contain detailed information about existing conditions and planned changes.


Documents dating from the 1960s-1990. Includes material from the archives of the National Federation of the Blind of the United Kingdom and the Disablement Income Group, including documents about existing facilities in Coventry and campaigns for improvements.


Documents dating from the 1940s-mid 1980s. Includes material on the organisation and provision of educational facilities in Coventry. Additional sources about higher education in the city will be included in the archives of the University of Warwick.

Employment and unemployment

Documents dating from the 1940s-1991. Includes some statistical data, campaign material relating to unemployment (including from the Coventry Unemployed Workers' Association), and sources on youth employment and employment of women.

Environment and pollution

Small amount of material dating from the 1960s-1970s.


Documents dating from the 1950s-2006 (most date from the 1950s-1980s). Includes sources on the administration of the local hospital service and Coventry Area Health Authority.


Documents dating from the 1940s-1980s (most date from the 1950s - early 1980s). Includes sources on council house rents and building programmes, discussions over how the political landscape of the city may change as a result of an increase in privately owned homes, and the Hillfields Community Development Project.

Immigration and race relations

Documents dating from the 1940s-1980s. Includes sources about employment (including protests against discrimination), Commonwealth immigration, allegations of an Irish Republican terrorist cell operating in Coventry, local protests against racism and fascism (particularly in the 1970s), and Coventry in the context of the unrest of the early 1980s.

Industry and industrial relations

Documents mostly dating from the 1940s-1990s. Includes sources on industry in Coventry and relations between employers and employees (and the industrial disputes which happened when that relationship broke down).

Local elections

Documents date from the 1940s-1990s. Election leaflets and other ephemera relating to parliamentary and council elections in Coventry. The publications will include information about both local and national issues that affected the campaigns.

Peace movement

Documents date from the 1940s-1990s. Following the devastation of the Second World War, Coventry developed a reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation. The documents linked to here include sources on the 1954 dispute over civil defence (preparations for the aftermath of a nuclear attack) when Coventry City Council defied the government by refusing to fund civil defence projects in the city. Later anti-nuclear archives are also included.

Sport and leisure

Documents date from the 1940s-1992. Small amount of material relating to leisure facilities and activities in the city, including examples of some local zines from the 1980s.


Documents date mostly from the 1960s-2000s. Includes material on transport infrastructure and policy.


Documents date from the 1950s-1980s. Includes material on employment of women in the city and pressure groups representing women.