Students from Syracuse University help with Worker Writer Collection

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Lorissa, Cindy, Alex, Victor, Destiny, Danielle, and instructor Jess (apologies to Bodeline)

For the past three weeks, 7 students from Syracuse University, as well as the University of Rochester and Carnegie Mellon University have been visiting the TUC library to work with the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers (FWWCP) Collection. The TUC acquired this collection from long-time FWWCP member and lecturer Nick Pollard just under a year ago. The FWWCP began in 1976, after 8 groups from across England gathered for a reading of their creative work and formed this network of writing and publishing groups, focused on providing a space that was accessible for working-class people to share their writing.

Students working on the collection, sorting and indexing.

The Syracuse students were taking a Civic Writing course, taught by Jess Pauszek, through Syracuse’s London Campus, Faraday House. During this course, the students have visited the FWWCP collection and have indexed over 1,000 FWWCP publications into regions throughout the United Kingdom, as well as international locations. In addition to this work, the students had the opportunity to meet former FWWCP members, attend writing workshops with ongoing community writing groups (such as the Newham Writers Workshop and Stevenage Survivors who are now part of an offshoot organization called TheFED), and meet previous FWWCP members to learn about the organization’s history from multiple perspectives. While many students had not visited London before, they stated that they now have a new sense of history from these community writers and the stories they shared. They were also able to have a hands-on experience with being part of documenting, preserving, and even participating in this rich history of working-class writing.

Consultation meeting

Students meet former members of FWWCP

Last week we held two meetings with former members of the FWWCP to discuss a possible digitisation and oral history project. We’d like to thank all those that attended and hope to meet with those that couldn’t make it. The students also had a chance to meet them.

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TUC centenary celebrations, 1968

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In our last blog post we focused on the first Trades Union Congress in 1868.

In this post we discover how the TUC celebrated its centenary in 1968. Events mainly took place in June in both London and Manchester – the site of the first Congress. There were also a number of celebrations held in September 1968 at the TUC’s annual congress of that year in Blackpool.

In Manchester a plaque was unveiled on the building that hosted the first Congress and an evening of music and celebrations took place at the Kings Hall concert venue at  Belle Vue.

In London there was a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, including a performance of a specially commissioned Centenary March.

Music and brochures produced for the TUC centenary performances in London and Manchester, 1968

A banquet took place at the Guildhall in the City of London, attended by the Queen. A special centenary edition of “Labour” magazine was produced that carried a photograph of the banquet on its front page (see below).

The Queen addressing the attendees at the Guildhall banquet

Other events included an exhibition staged at the TUC’s headquarters, Congress House, and the publication of a pictorial history of the TUC.

The TUC also entered into a partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and established an Institute for Occupational Health. The Institute promoted research and epidemiological surveys of occupational health and offered an information and investigatory service to unions.

A brochure promoting the Institute of Occupational Health

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Anniversary of the first Trades Union Congress, 1868

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This week marks the 147th anniversary of the very first meeting of the TUC. The congress took place between 2nd – 6th June 1868 in the Mechanics’ Institute, Princess Street, Manchester.

The Mechanics’ Institute, Princess St, Manchester, site of the first Trades Union Congress

In February of 1868 a proposal had been circulated by the Manchester and Salford Trades Council to trades unions and trades councils to convene a meeting to discuss matters of mutual interest. As the circular (below) states, the motivation for convening the meeting was the “profound ignorance which prevails in the public mind” with regard to the organisation and principles of trade unionism, “together with the probability of an attempt being made by the Legislature, during the present session of Parliament, to introduce a measure detrimental to the interests of such Societies”.

Circular calling the first Trades Union Congress, 1868

The proposed topics for discussion at the meeting included regulation of hours, apprenticeships, technical education, the law of picketing, the Factory Acts, the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, and “the Necessity for an Annual Congress of Trade Representatives”.

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