Labour History Archive at the PHM

Last week some of the Special Collections team were invited along to the People’s History Museum to visit the Labour History Archive and study centre.

” The Labour History Archive & Study Centre (LHASC) is the main specialist repository for research into the political wing of the labour movement. It holds the archives of working class organisations from the Chartists to New Labour, including the Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain. The collections provide an insight into the social, political and economic life of the last two centuries.

Now it might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but the member of staff showing us around, Darren, obviously knows his stuff and has a passion for this material. Which always helps.

You’d think something from the Labour or Communist archives would have grabbed our attention but no.

It  was several copies of The British Workman, this was a broadsheet periodical published monthly in England by Partridge and Co in London. It was published between 1855 and 1892 with the aim to

“promote the health, wealth and happiness of the working classes”

 It was illustrated with contemporary engravings with some editions having the first page given over to a single engraving. The text, written by a number of authors was a mixture of socialism and Protestant Christian religion. It strongly advocated temperance

One of the full page engravings. Brilliant.

One phrase that seemed to occur throughout was “The oiled feather”. We’d never heard of it and details are limited online. Turns out it’s a moral children’s book by Philip Bennett Power.

Another word I had to Google… Sagacity

And did you know that George Orwell was shot in the neck whilst participating in the Spanish Civil War. Well, you learn something new everyday. As a result I have a copy of Homage to Catalan in the post.

Thank you to the archive staff for the warm welcome and introduction to this valuable archive.