Miners strike exhibition launch event


Visitors at the launch event browse the exhibition panels.

On the evening of Monday 23rd November we launched our exhibition ‘Solidarity and the 1984-5 miners’ strike‘. Thank you to all those who attended the launch event. Particular thanks are extended to our speakers on the night: the Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, John Raftery; Mike Jackson from Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners; former Labour MP Hywel Francis; and to the band Ribbon Road, who ended the evening with a performance of their wonderful miners strike-inspired songs.

The exhibiton closes at 5pm on Thursday 26th November at its current venue at London Metropolitan University, but will be touring other parts of London and nationwide in the New Year.

Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, John Raftery, addresses the attendees at the launch event.

The band Ribbon Road performing at the launch


100th anniversary of death of Joe Hill (1879-1915)


Joe Hill (1879 – 1915) © Creative Commons

Today (Nov 19th) marks the 100th anniversary of the execution of Joe Hill. Hill was a Swedish-American union activist, songwriter and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”). An effective union organiser and writer of many well known labour and folk songs, Hill was controversially executed on November 19th 1915 on what many historians believe were trumped up charges.

The TUC Library contains a collection of biographical information on Joe Hill (see pic below) as well as books, such as ‘The Man Who Never Died’ by Barrie Stavis and ‘The Case of Joe Hill’ by Philip S. Foner.

A selection of the biographical material on Joe Hill

The library also contains material on the subject of the Industrial Workers of the World, labour songs and folk music, and the American labour movement more generally (see our previous blog post).

For more information about any of these collections, get in touch.


History Libraries Open Day – the ‘American Trail’


On Friday 27th November the TUC Library will have a stall at the Senate House Libraries and Research Open Day. The event is a great opportunity for students and researchers to learn about a broad range of specialist library and archive collections. This year the Open Day has the theme of the “American Trail“, focusing on North American collections.

The TUC Library holds a unique collection of material relating to the development of the union and labour movement in the USA and Canada.

The collection contains material on the general history of the USA and Canada, as well as specific industrial and occupartional matters such as the system of industrial relations in the two countries, economic conditions, specific strikes and disputes, etc.

Publication from the US Department of Labor, issued on Labor Day 1947

You can see a couple of previous blog posts we have produced, on the subjects of the US Labor Day and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster that was influential in changing US labour law and health and safety regulations.

The TUC Library also contains a collection of publications from the US national union body, the AFL-CIO, and a sizeable collection from individual American unions, including many periodicals going back to the 1920s.

A small selection of the AFL-CIO material

In addition, the material covers a broad range of other subjects, such as biographical material on American politicians and labour leaders, and events such as the Great Depression, the New Deal, Marshall Aid, etc.

A shipment of Marshall Aid sugar, 1949

You can see a sample of some of the American material on one of our Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/tuc_library/american-labour-movement/

For more information on what our US and Canadian collections contain, or to make an appointment to visit the library, get in touch.


Exhibition launch: Solidarity and the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike


In March 1984 over 150,000 British coal miners went on strike to protest against plans for widespread closures in the industry. The strike, ultimately unsuccessful, lasted a year and was one of the most significant industrial disputes in British history. Alongside the industrial struggle emerged a large and diverse social movement to help sustain the miners and their communities.

To commemorate this event the TUC Library Collections and London Metropolitan University have produced a new exhibition entitled Solidarity and the 1984-85 Miners Strike.

The exhibition will be open to the public at London Metropolitan University, Wash Houses, E1 7TP from Monday 23rd November – Thursday 26th November 2015.


  • Monday 10am – 4pm
  • Tuesday 10am – 7pm
  • Wednesday 10am – 7pm
  • Thursday 10am – 5pm

Entrance is free and via Goulston Street reception, London Metropolitan University, Aldgate Campus, London E1 7TP. Nearest tube station Aldgate/Aldgate East. How to find the venue

For further information on the exhibition, email tuclib@londonmet.ac.uk

An example of one of the exhibition panels – LGBT support for the strike


Junior doctors’ strike, 1975


“Pickets in white” publication from the Medical Practitioners Union (now a section of the Unite union), 1977.

Junior doctors are currently in dispute with the Government over the imposition of a new working contract that will affect pay, hours and conditions. Doctors have taken to the streets in rallies and demonstrations in opposition to the new contract.

The dispute echoes a very similar one that took place between junior doctors and the Government in November 1975. That dispute also centred around a new contract that sought to introduce new pay and working hours. The dispute eventually resulted in an agreement being struck with the government in December 1975.

The publication above, “Pickets in white: the junior doctors’ dispute 1975″, was produced by the Medical Practitioners’ Union (now a section of Unite) in 1977 to reflect on the strike and consider lessons learned. It provides a fascinating record of the behind the scenes negotiations between the MPU, the British Medical Association and the government.

To visit the TUC Library to view this publication, or any other items from our collection, get in touch.


Disability History Month 2015


Examples of TUC publications on the subject of disabled workers, from 2011 and 2012

November is Disability History Month. This year the organisers as examining the way that disabled people have been portrayed in the media, film, TV and literature, etc.

The TUC Library contains a unique collection of material relating to the history of disabled people and how they are perceived, particularly in relation to the workplace. The material documents the various campaigns that have been taken up by the trade union and labour movement to demand equality and anti-discrimination policies in the workplace, and in the wider economy and society.

To find out more about what we hold on the subject of disability and work, get in touch with us at tuclib@londonmet.ac.uk or 020 7133 3726

An article about blind aircraft workers, appearing in the Ministry of Labour and National Service Production and Engineering Bulletin, October 1943