Owen Jones calls for stronger unions in the fight for equality


Guardian journalist Owen Jones today delivered a public lecture on the subject of Inequality to a packed audience at London Met University. Owen spoke of the decline in living standards over the last few years and its implications for gender, race and class inequality. Owen also delivered a rousing call for the need to organise to fight injustice and make demands of the powerful. One important method Owen mentioned was the reviving of trade unions, the “greatest democratic movement” and a powerful countervailing force in the struggle for social justice.

To find out more about the history and possibly the future of the trade union movement, visit the TUC Library at London Met University.


New edition of Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists donated to library


A big thank you to Steve Peak, who has very kindly donated a copy of a new edition of Robert Tressell’s novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. The TUC Library holds the original manuscript of the novel, which has been digitised and can be seen here.

Steve is a historian in Hastings, the town which Tressell used as the model for the location of the novel. Steve has written a wonderful new introduction to accompany the new centenary edition and it also includes new photographs some of which have not previously been published. Copies of the the book can be purchased here.

To find out more about Robert Tressell or the novel, get in touch: tuclib@londonmet.ac.uk or 020 7133 3726

Steve Peak (right) presenting a copy of the new edition to TUC Librarian, Jeff Howarth.


Adam Hochschild delivers popular lecture on opposition to WWI


Adam Hochschild delivering his lecture

Acclaimed writer and journalist Adam Hochschild delivered a well received lecture hosted by the TUC Library on Friday 24th October. The lecture, to publicise Adam’s new book “To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain“, discussed the various manifestations of opposition to the First World War. The lecture was a great success, proving well attended and provoking some interesting discussion. The TUC Library would like to thank Adam and all those who attended.

James showing Adam the collections

Following the lecture Adam received a tour round the TUC Library, which holds a unique collection of material relating to trade union, women, labour and working class perspectives on the First Would War.



TUC Library at London Metropolitan University presents a lunchtime talk 24 October


To End All Wars  Adam Hochschild on his latest book A Story of Protest and Patriotism in the First World War.

Author of King Leopold’s Ghost, award winning writer and journalist Adam Hochschild will talk (with audio, film and music) about his current book about the Great War and the opposition to it from feminists, philosophers, trade unionists, and those on the left. The story of how the international socialist movement collapsed in the face of nationalist fervour for war, but how individuals and groups continued to question the war’s legitimacy especially in the light of the alarming death-toll of soldiers from around the world across Europe’s battlefields.

Please register tinyurl.com/nc2nu4s                                    

1 – 2pm                       open to all                    Free     Please register

Enter through the main building reception on Holloway Road

Room TM1-45
Tower Building,
North Campus,
166-220 Holloway Road,
N7 8DB.

A book to make one feel deeply and painfully Christopher Hitchens.

Much of the literature that Adam refers to is available from the TUC Library.

As part of FSSH Community engagement week


The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911


A plaque commemorating the Triangle factory fire, 1911

This week TUC Librarian Jeff Howarth has been in New York for the annual conference of the International Association of Labour History Institutions (IALHI). The conference is being held on the campus of New York University and one of the university’s buildings, now called the Brown Building, was formerly the site of one of the worst industrial disasters in America’s history.

In 1911 the building was known as the Asch Building and its 8th, 9th and 10th floors were occupied by the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory. The company made women’s blouses, known as “shirt-waists”.

On March 25th 1911 a fire broke out in the factory, causing the deaths of 146 garment workers. Many of the workers were Jewish and Italian immigrants and the deaths included 123 women and 23 men, including two 14 year old girls. It emerged that the exits to the building had been locked by the company owners – a common practice at the time to stop workers taking unauthorised breaks. The lack of exits significantly increased the death toll as many died of smoke inhalation and others jumped out of windows in an attempt to avoid the flames.

The aftermath of the fire led to legislation being passed that increased safety standards and working conditions in factories. It also prompted the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. A Committee on Public Safety, and later the American Society of Safety Engineers, were founded in New York in response to the fire.