New documentary celebrates the influence of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists


To mark the centenary of the publication of Robert Tressell’s novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – the original manuscript of which is housed at the TUC Library – a new documentary called ‘Still Ragged’ has been produced by community film makers Shut Out The Light.

The film includes interviews with many people who have been influenced by the book, including MPs Tom Watson and Dennis Skinner, Unite leader Len McCluskey and many other writers, artists and fans. Part of the documentary was filmed in the TUC Library, including an interview with former TUC Librarian Christine Coates and footage of the original manuscript.

A trailer for the documentary can be seen here:

To purchase copies of the documentary or find out when there might be a public screening near you, visit the Shut Out The Light website.


TUC Library Poster collection: spotlight on our WWII propaganda posters


Below is a guest post written by our volunteer Jenni Rockliff, who is listing the TUC Library’s poster collections.

World War II propaganda poster “On to Japan!”

One of the posters held by the TUC Library Collections is this Second World War propaganda poster, which was produced by the British in 1945.

In this dramatic art deco style image an archer is using a plane as his bow and aiming it at Japan. The Rising Sun flag of Japan has been used to create the effect of a target around the islands of Japan. A tank and a warship, seen beside the figure, are also facing towards Japan.

The creator of this image was Sevek. According to unverified sources: Sevek’s real name was Severin Rajchman. He was born in Poland on 6th February 1918 to a Polish father and a Czech-Austrian mother. When he was six months old the family moved to Vienna. Sevek studied at the Art Academy of Vienna and Worked with the Austrian branch of the USA film making company MGM (Metro Goldwin Meyer). In 1940, he joined the British Army in the Middle East. In 1947, he left Cairo for Paris, where he mixed in existentialist circles. Sevek then moved to the South of France to carry on his work. His work gradually became more abstract. He had a gallery in the village of Eze. He died on 29th December 1994 in Annecy and is buried in Eze cemetery.


40th anniversary of the Working Women’s Charter


Badges to promote the Working Women’s Charter, 1974

It’s 40 years since the publication of the Working Women’s Charter, produced by the London Trades Council in 1974.

This week an article on the subject in the Guardian quoted former TUC Librarian Christine Coates and used one of the most popular photographs from our history website to accompany the story.

The 10-point charter called for equal pay for equal work, along with equal promotion opportunities, the eradication of workplace discrimination, free childcare and contraception and abortion services. The 10 points can be seen on this document.

A motion put forward at the 1975 TUC conference to support the charter was rejected, however, mainly due to the issue of contraception and abortion. Instead the TUC produced its own 12-point charter in 1975:

The 12 points in the TUC’s 1975 women’s charter

The TUC’s 1975 charter echoed many of the demands in the TUC’s earlier “six-point charter” of 1963.

Although there have been notable achievements over the last 40 years, many of the demands in the original charter still remain undelivered. This prompted the History and Policy organisation to host a one day event last weekend to discuss the 40th anniversary. They have produced a new women’s charter to address contemporary issues.

Find more information on the subject of women and the labour movement on our history website The Union Makes Us Strong or our dedicated website telling the story of the struggle for Equal Pay, and our website Britain at Work documenting the changes to the workplace in the post-war period.


Guest blog: Prof Jerry White on his recent research using the WWI material in the TUC Library



A London Trades Council minute book of July 1914

Jerry White, Professor in History at Birkbeck, University of London, has recently been visiting the TUC Library to consult our First World War material. Jerry writes:

The TUC Library has a fabulous collection of First World War trade union material. I focused on three collections.

1.       The London Trades Council was the representative coordinating council for London trades unions, including some TU branches that subscribed in addition to the relevant TU headquarters, some local Trades and Labour Councils, organised on a borough basis, and a number of Labour and Cooperative MPs. The library has the manuscript and printed Executive Committee minutes and the manuscript minutes of the monthly Delegate Meetings of the Council, frequently involving 70-100 delegates. A wide range of war business was discussed, including attitudes to the war, conscription, food and coal shortages, the work of the London Food Vigilance Committee (formed with the London Labour Party), strikes (including the Police Strike of August 1918), etc.

2.       The Dockers’ Record and the Annual Reports of the Dock, Riverside and General Workers of Great Britain and Ireland provide an overview of the work nationwide of the main dockers’ trade union. There is a complete run of the Annual Reports and numerous issues of the Record. The union was active from 1917 in organising women munitions workers and other women working in manufacturing around the country. The TU’s General Secretary, Ben Tillett, was an active patriot on recruiting platforms.

3.       The National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union published a fortnightly journal, The Seaman, of which the Library has a complete bound run for the war years and beyond. It gives a glimpse of the rhetoric of the most patriotic, anti-German and anti-pacifist union of the war years. It was also a rabidly xenophobic union, decrying the use of Chinese and ‘coloured’ labour to replace the shortages of home-grown labour, especially from 1917 on.

To find out more about the material we hold relating to the First World War, get in touch:, 020 7133 3726


Good luck to new musical Made in Dagenham, researched at the TUC Library


Good luck to all the cast and crew of new West End musical Made in Dagenham, based on the 2010 film of the same name.

The show is based on the true story of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike for equal pay. If you would like to learn more about the real life story then you can find out more and see a video with the women involved on our website Winning Equal Pay: the Value of Women’s Work.

Background research for both the film and the musical has taken place at the TUC Library. We have assisted the producers in finding information about the unions involved, their structure and voting procedures, and the clothing styles and union logos from the period in order to add historical accuracy to the props and set design.

To find out how you can use the TUC Library, get in touch:, 020 7133 3726, @TUC_Library


Disability History Month turns spotlight on war and disablement


To coincide with this year’s centenary of the First World War, UK Disability History Month seeks to highlight the issue of War and Disablement. Disability History Month starts on 22nd November and is sponsored by Unite the Union. This year Unite will host the launch of the campaign to investigate the link between war and disability. Details of the event can be found here.

The TUC Library contains a wealth of material on the subject of war and disability, in particular material from the various disabled ex-servicemen’s organisations that emerged after the First World War.

The library also contains a great deal of material on the issue of disability and discrimination more generally, particularly in relation to work issues and unemployment faced by disabled people.

To find out more about what the TUC Library holds and how you can access material, get in touch at or 020 7133 3726. You can also visit the 1914-1918 section of the Timeline on our history website to see digitised images and documents from the period.