Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

Archive for September, 2012

Reflections on ‘Jubilee’

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 24, 2012

Jen Morgan reflects on the exhibition ‘Jubilee: the radical tradition’ which she has just taken down at the Library:

Inspired by Malcolm Chase’s article on the radical use of ‘jubilee’ in late 18th century / early 19th century culture, I set out to see what the library had in its collections that would illuminate this period, and possibly beyond. It turns out there was quite a lot.

The exhibition covered all of the jubilees from George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1809 to Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. It displays work by Thomas Spence, William Morris, Walter Greenwood, the Sex Pistols, Angel Tuckett, ‘Lucy Toothpaste’, and the newspapers the Clarion, the Nelson Gazette, the Daily Worker, and the Commonweal. It was interesting to take up this thread that led me through the entire collection, and I bet most people wouldn’t expect the library to have a collection of feminist punk zines, and original ‘Stuff the Jubilee’ badges from ’77.

A favourite of mine was a cartoon from the Daily Worker, mainly because of the strange insult that one London Busman slings at another: tortoise legs?!

Although Chase was right to note that the radical use of the term ‘jubilee’ – referencing the passage from the Bible on social justice and land redistribution – did not survive the mid-19th century, it did survive in the memory of the left. I found a few references around the time of George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 to the passage from Leviticus, but more in the vein of ‘wasn’t the jubilee originally from the Bible…?’

Despite the waning of this specific tradition, whenever there was a royal jubilee it was accompanied by protest at the display of privilege at times of high unemployment and social inequality (this seems to shadow royal jubilees like a bad smell).  A cartoon from the Daily Worker, comparing the lavish meal at the celebration of George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 and the allowance for the unemployed.

Full article by Jen, including photos from the exhibition, on her blog at http://hub.salford.ac.uk/shelleyinthe19thcenturypress/2012/07/11/jubilee-the-radical-tradition/

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A new crop of digitised photos now available online

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 11, 2012

Thanks are due again to the University of Salford, whose digital repository now houses 84 images from our photographic collections.   If you go to http://usir.salford.ac.uk/view/archive_collections/WCML.html  you can browse through images of Manchester during the General Strike and other labour and peace protests from the 1930s to the 1980s.  There are also photos of  International Brigade volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, and some unusual shots from 1937 of a Manchester Communist Party pageant.

All the images are freely available to browse. Anyone wanting to use high res versions, please contact us to discuss terms and conditiions.

And while we’re on the subject of images, we don’t take photos of all our readers but we did ask this group to pose for us when they came to do some impressively diligent research last week prior to filming a new TV drama production:

Lynette Cawthra, Library Manager

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Invisible Histories update

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 7, 2012

The Invisible Histories Project is gaining momentum. We have now filled the places for the oral history training and are hoping to confirm dates this week.  There is a reserve list for those still interested though so do still get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

We will be publicizing the project over the next month or so to spread the word and hopefully recruit some more volunteer interviewees. If you worked at Richard Haworth’s, Ward and Goldstone Ltd or the Agecroft Colliery and want to share your memories and add to the Library’s audio archive then drop us a line.

I have been across the road to Salford’s Local History Library and found some good photographs of the three workplaces> The Library kindly allowed us to take scans of the images and some of these now feature on our project poster:

I am off to the Museum of Science and Industry’s archives to have a look at their collection relating to Agecroft Colliery which was housed there following the closure of the Lancashire Museum of Mining at Buile Hill.  I’m looking forward to having a rummage and seeing what I can find.

I am also writing a few paragraphs about our object of the month which will go up on the website and will be highlighting the 160th anniversary of the first free public library! Something Manchester should be very proud of.

I am very grateful for the re-tweets and re-blogs that we have been getting and for the general positive response to the project.

Carrie

carrie.gough@wcml.org.uk

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Lucy Miller – a woman of many talents

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 4, 2012

We’ve just added to our stock of working class autobiographies a 60-page typescript by a woman called Lucy Miller, a Communist Party and later Labour Party member who was born in Battersea in 1903.  It covers her domestic and working life, which included a spell as a civil servant just after the second world war.  ‘Whilst working in Downing Street the Government decided that no Communist Party member should be employed in the Civil Service.  I was still an active Party member, so decided that instead of waiting to be sacked I would discharge myself.  I therefore told the supervisor that I was a Party member (much to her amazement) and that I would prefer to find other work’.

Lucy was highly musical, playing the piano and writing pieces for piano and orchestra, and taking an interest in the Workers’ Music Association.  Very sadly Lucy chose to entitle her autobiography ‘A wasted talent’, one reason being her ‘feeling that I should never achieve the music I so much wanted to create’.

Her life ended unhappily, but we are honoured that her friend Jean Garriock has given this account of her life to the Library – a place where ‘invisible histories’ of working women and men can be preserved and celebrated.

Lynette Cawthra, Library Manager

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