Subject guides to archives

The guides below highlight some outstanding themes but are not intended to be exhaustive. They complement the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.

Subject guides to archives

The guides below highlight some outstanding themes but are not intended to be exhaustive. They complement the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.

Apartheid archives

Apartheid archives overview

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation, which was brought in by National Party governments in South Africa after the general election of 1948. Legislation divided citizens into four racial groups; "black", "white", "coloured", and "Indian". Residential areas were then segregated along those lines.

The imposition of apartheid prompted popular resistance within South Africa: arms and trade sanctions were imposed on the South African regime by the international community. These pressures began to take their toll. The last of the apartheid laws was finally repealed in 1991. Democratic elections took place in 1994, with the result that Nelson Mandela, whose life had been defined by the struggle against apartheid, became the President of South Africa.

This guide is not intended to be exhaustive. It complements the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.


      Ruth First papers

      Ruth First (1925-1982) lived much of her life outside South Africa as a political exile, and was a fervent opponent of the South African regime. She was killed by a parcel bomb sent by the South African secret service. Her extensive papers include correspondence with many of her fellow activists, and drafts of her writings. Some of these archives have been digitised.

      Mary Benson papers

      Mary Benson (1919-2000) became secretary to the Treason Trials Defence Fund in 1957. She was served with a banning order in 1966 and left South Africa later that year for London where she continued to work tirelessly against apartheid. Her papers include correspondence with fellow activists, and photographs of Nelson Mandela, about whom she published a book.

      Mary Benson papers 1

      Mary Benson papers, reference ICS 6/16/1


      Mary Benson papers 2

      Mary Benson papers, reference ICS 6/16/1

      Steve Biko speech

      Steve Biko (1946-1977) became the first president of the South African Students' Organisation in 1968. In March 1973 the South African government placed heavy restrictions on his movements and activities and banned any quotation from his speeches or conversations. Despite this, Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement played a large role in organising the protests which led to the Soweto riots on 16 June 1976. Steve Biko died in prison in Pretoria on 12 September 1977, where he had suffered severe head injuries, believed to have been caused by police beatings.

      African National Congress papers

      The African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 and banned in South Africa in 1960. In 1949 the Programme of Action, with mass opposition to apartheid at its heart, was adopted as ANC policy. The ban on the ANC was lifted in February 1990. This archive of the ANC includes papers relating to the treason trials of 1954-1961; public statements and publicity material 1953, 1972-1976; papers of South African Indian organisations including the Transvaal Indian Congress, 1939-1963.

      University of Cape Town: students’ representatives

      Papers on the South African disturbances, 1976, including comments on the disturbances by black, white and coloured individuals, accounts of incidents and papers by the Soweto Students' Representative Council, the South African Institute of Race Relations, the National Union of South African Students, and the Union of Black Journalists.

      Ben Turok papers

      Ben Turok became a full-time organiser for the Congress of the People after his return to South Africa in 1953. During the 1960 emergency, Turok went underground to help re-establish ANC organisation. In 1962 he was sentenced to three years in prison under the Explosives Act. After his release, he escaped via Botswana and was resident in the UK from 1972. He returned to South Africa in 1990. Subjects in his papers include political involvement in South Africa, 1961-1981, and correspondence, 1971-1980, with Oliver Tambo and others regarding ANC activities.

      The Nelson Mandela Trials collection

      This collection comprises Nelson Mandela (1964) Mary Benson papers, reference ICS 6/45. © University of Dundee, The Peto Collection

      papers collected by Joel Joffe, the lawyer acting for Nelson Mandela, relating to Mandela’s trial in Pretoria (1962) and the Rivonia Trial (1963-1964). The collection includes Mandela’s address to the court, detailing his political commitment and activities in the ANC; the initial statement made by Mandela to his lawyers, giving details of his early life; notes by Mandela on his life and ANC association; and manuscript notes by Mandela to use if he were sentenced to death.

      Marion Friedmann papers

      Marion Friedmann (1918-c1975) was a founder member of the Liberal Party of South Africa, which was forced to disband under the Prohibition of Political Interference Act of 1968. Her papers, 1957-1963, concern South African politics, mainly apartheid and the oppression of black South Africans.

      Marion Friedmann papers on the archive catalogue

      Peter Hjul papers

      Peter Hjul (1929-1999) became active in the Liberal Party and chaired the Cape Provincial Division. He also chaired the editorial board of the radical fortnightly "Contact".  He and his family were harassed by South African security forces. The Hjul family emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1965, where Peter Hjul continued his career as a journalist. His papers, 1954-1968, include committee minutes, election material, and reports.

      Peter Hjul papers on the archive catalogue

      Ronnie Bethlehem South African economy collection

      Ronnie Bethlehem (1935-1997) was an economist, whose papers illustrate the transition to democracy. Subjects include sanctions, the business community and the new South Africa, housing policy, and the restructuring of the economy.

      Ronnie Bethlehem South African economy collection on the archives catalogue


      University of Cape Town: students’ representatives

      Papers on the South African disturbances, 1976, including comments on the disturbances by black, white and coloured individuals, accounts of incidents and papers by the Soweto Students' Representative Council, the South African Institute of Race Relations, the National Union of South African Students, and the Union of Black Journalists.

      University of Cape Town: students’ representatives on the archives catalogue

      Coins and counterfeiting

      Coins, coinage and counterfeiting overview

      This guide to archives relating to coins, coinage and counterfeiting is not intended to be exhaustive. It complements the archives catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.

      Coins and coinage

      Archives on education


      Adult education

      Private tuition

      Commonwealth education (see also Higher Education)

      Religious education

      Higher education

      Archives on pacifism


      This guide to archives on pacifism held at Senate House Library is not intended to be exhaustive. It complements the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 caused euphoric crowds to gather in the capitals of several combatant nations. Notoriously, Hitler was photographed in the midst of a huge, jubilant crowd in Vienna. But there was also notable opposition to the war. Keir Hardie addressed large crowds of protestors in London as war loomed.  Hardie was the first leader of the Labour Party. His successor but three, Ramsay MacDonald, who also opposed the war, stepped down from the leadership once hostilities had begun.  In Britain, several pacifist organisations continued the campaign. The introduction of military conscription in 1916 boosted the appeal of the No Conscription Fellowship (NCF), which had been founded by Fenner Brockway in November 1914. Brockway, like many pacifists of this era, was imprisoned for his beliefs.  Pacifism was a significant political force in the inter-war period although the increasingly obvious menace of Nazi Germany in 1930s convinced the Labour Party, for instance, to abandon its quasi-pacifist position and support re-armament. Nevertheless, the build-up to the outbreak of the Second World War was accompanied by a significant amount of pacifist activity. Anti-war campaigners included Christian groups and members of far left and extreme right-wing organisations. Campaigns against the war continued after the declaration of war on Germany by Britain on 3 September 1939.

      Anti-conscription leaflet, 1915 (reference MS1152/box 1/file8/2)

      World War One era pamphlets, posters, c1913-1923

      Includes the following:  suppressed leaflets and pamphlets including those written by Clifford Allen and Fenner Brockway, 1913-1917; The Tribunal, 1918-1919; Union of Democratic Control leaflets, 1919; pacifist leaflets, 1915-1916; No Conscription Fellowship leaflets, 1916; map of inland waters showing suspected mine fields, 1919.

      World War One era pamphlets, posters, c1913-1923.

      Second World War pacifist pamphlets, journals, c1937-1940

      Includes publications by the Peace Pledge Union, the British Union of Fascists, Eric Gill, and Vera Brittain.  Also includes A review of the proceedings of the Appellate Tribunal (December 1939), War Resisters’ International, British Union, Friends’ Home Service Committee, National Peace Council, Independent Labour Party Women’s Peace Campaign leaflets.Undated Second World War leaflet (MS1190/2/163)

      Second World War pacifist pamphlets, journals, c1937-1940.

      Playne Collection, 1907-1924

      Notes, press cuttings, pamphlets and journals compiled and collected by Caroline Elizabeth Playne for her research and publications, including material

      regarding the war effort in the First World War in Britain, France, Germany and other countries, pacifism, censorship and propaganda and the internment of aliens in Britain, along with publications of pacifist groups, such as the National Peace Council, the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Union of Democratic Control, socialist pamphlets and official publications.

      Playne Collection, 1907-1924.

      Higgins/Richardson collection

      Some Trotskyists initially opposed Britain’s entry into the Second World War.  Evidence of this can be found in this comprehensive collection of Trotskyist archives and publications

      Higgins/Richardson collection.

      Ron Heisler collection

      Letter relating to a pacifist manifesto (1936). 

      Ron Heisler collection.

      Archives on the United States of America


      This guide to archives relating to the United States of America is not intended to be exhaustive. It complements the Archives Catalogue, which includes subject and place name search facilities, and the United States Studies.

      Civil War


      Taxation (internal)

      War of Independence

      Native Americans

      Archives related to music

      Medieval manuscript fragments

      Transcriptions of medieval music and early English music

      Italian music

      18th-19th century scores and collections

      20th century scores and collections

      Friendly societies and related archives

      Guide to literary archives

      Literary correspondence and manuscripts

      Sterling Library manuscript collection includes works by Byron, H. E. Bates, John Ruskin, William Langland, Sir Walter Scott, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Arnold Bennett, Siegfried Sassoon, and Compton MacKenzie.

      Archives relating to literary scholarship

      Booksellers’ archives

      Historians’ archives

      Historians’ archives

      History of the Book archive sources


      Publishers’ archives

      Printed ephemera

      Alan Clinton papers, c1964-1990

      Booksellers’ archives

      Palaeography and medieval archive sources

      Medieval archive sources

      Psychic investigations, magic and the paranormal

      Archival sources

      • Harry Price (1881-1948) was a psychic investigator and author who achieved great renown.  His extensive archive includes details of experiments regarding psychic phenomena and witchcraft.
      • Harold Frost (1892-1975) became interested in psychic research in the 1920s in Essex and other areas.  His papers include scrapbooks with notes of sittings with mediums of various circles.
      • Trevor Hall was the author of Search for Harry Price, 1978.  His correspondence, 1956-1986, included subjects such as Eric Dingwall's life after retirement and Harry Price.
      • Ida Holden retired from her job at Mirror Group Newspapers in 1959.  Her papers include details of the alleged thought transference from Cecil King and Lord Northcliffe thereafter.
      • Edinburgh seances1921-1936. Emmeline Vyner, who lived in Edinburgh in the 1930s, had a firm belief in life after death but her accounts could be critical and humorous.  Her papers comprise manuscript and typed records of spiritualist meetings, voice circles, and card readings.
      • Caroline Rhys-Davids (1857-1942) became involved with spirit communications and telepathy, and published on the subject after the death of her only son, Arthur, during the First World War.  Her papers comprise diaries and notebooks containing automatic writing and notes on the afterlife.
      • Francis Rolt-Wheeler (1876-1960) was a prolific writer who had a second career as an occultist.  Rolt-Wheeler's works included a ten volume science history of the universe.  He was the author of The Twenty Two Keys of Protection, c1940.
      • Anne Rushout, who died in 1849, was the daughter of John,1st Baron Northwick of Northwick Park, Worcestershire.  Her diaries, 1828-1849, illustrate her interest in spiritualism.
      • Eric Dingwall (1890-1986) wrote several books including Ghosts and Spirits in the Ancient World, 1930.  His archive includes correspondence with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini and Harry Price as well as details of investigations into paranormal events.
      • Matthew Manning was born in 1955. He became famous with the publication of his first book, The Link, in 1974.  The Link and In the Minds of Millions (1977) were autobiographical works which described psychic phenomena. His papers include automatic drawings.
      • Paul Tabori (1908-1974), a notable author and screenwriter in his own right, was a close friend and the literary executor of Harry Price.  Tabori's papers include drafts of books and articles which illustrate his interest in the supernatural world.
      • John Lord completed a doctorate on the relevance of philosophy to psychical research.  His papers include his writings on parapsychology, astrology, pseudoscience, UFOs, evidence for paranormal events, and oracles.


      Archival sources

      Temperance archive sources

      Independent Order of Rechabites

      The Independent Order of Rechabites was a friendly society, which was founded in Salford in 1835. The Order was part of the temperance movement. The name of the Order was inspired by the Rechabites, who feature in the 35th Chapter of Jeremiah. The founders of the Order were concerned that many friendly societies met in public houses and their members were therefore vulnerable to the temptations of alcohol. The Order spread around the world: there were branches in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and India. Branches were known as “tents” and presided over by High Chief Rulers, who were assisted by Inside and Outside Guardians, a Levite of the Tent and a group of Elders. Before joining the Order, a prospective member had to sign a pledge that they and their family would abstain from alcohol. The Order is now known as Healthy Investment. Until July 2003, membership of the Society was exclusively for tee-totallers but members may now join if they have a healthy lifestyle.

      Independent Order of Rechabites archive

      Beer Trade Protection Society

      The Beer Trade Protection Society represented 41,000 “beershops” and 89,000 public houses in England. The Society was based in London and was mainly concerned with the sale of beer and ale within the capital. The Society had a number of functions. It was a political lobbying group but also cared for retired or distressed inn-keepers and their dependents. The Society was particularly concerned with defending the Beerhouse Act of 1830, which exempted the sale of beer from the need to be licensed by a justice. This provision of the Act was under constant pressure from temperance groups.

      Beer Trade Protection Society minute book, 1854-1866

      Other collections

      Senate House Library also holds the Temperance Collection and the John Burns Collection.  Burns was a lifelong abstainer from alcohol.  Books from both these collections are included in the Library catalogue.

      Theatre Archive Sources

      Theatre and Drama archives

      Trotskyist archive sources

      Trotskyist archives

      This guide to Trotskyist archives is not intended to be exhaustive. It includes archival collections held by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and also the Institute of Latin American Studies. The guide complements the Archives Catalogue, which includes a subject search facility.

      • Bolivia: political pamphlets, 1965-.
      • Chile: political pamphlets, 1965-.
      • Alan Clinton papers, c1918-c1990;  subject files include Workers' Socialist League, 1980s; Soclalist League conference, 1967; Socialist Organiser, 1970s-1980s; Trotskyist pamphlets and journals (c1960s-c1990) including Workers PressNews LineSocialist Press.
      • Edward Crawford collection: periodicals including Workers NewsSocialist AppealMarxist Bulletin, pamphlets, c1966-c1978.
      • Edward Crawford papers: correspondence, draft articles, discussion papers, c1929-c2001. Correspondents include Ian Birchnall, Nils K. Dahl, Albert Glotzer, Paolo Casciolo, Laurens Otter, Tim Wohlforth, Harrison Salisbury, Christopher Hitchens, Ludwik Hass, C. L. R. James, Walter Kendall, and Robert Conquest.
      • Will Fancy papers, c1936-c2008: subject files include International Socialist Group, 1967-1969; Victory for Socialism, 1958-1962; International Socialists/Socialist Workers Party internal bulletins, c1959-1966; Socialist Labour League bulletins, circulars, c1958-c1969. 
      • Stephen Graham lecture on Lenin and Trotsky, 1931.
      • Ron Heisler collections, MS1174MS1186: includes correspondence of Clarence Chrysostom with Sri Lankan Trotskyists, c1974-1999.
      • Jim Higgins / Al Richardson collection: includes Spartacists League / Workers Vanguard pamphlets, papers, 1964-2001; International Socialists minutes, circulars, discussion papers, 1960s-1970s; Socialist Review minutes, 1952-1956; International Marxist Group papers, 1963-1967; Workers Socialist League, c1977-1983; Workers Power bulletins, c1975-1992; letters relating to Hugo Dewar, Harry Wicks, Reg Groves.
      • Baruch Hirson papers: subjects include Workers' International League; Workers' Party; Trotskyism in South Africa; Workers Organisation for Socialist Action, c1980-1994.
      • C. L. R. James papers on West Indian politics, 1940-1965.
      • Harry Morris (also known as H.D. Emery, George Weston) and Mary Morris papers: subject files include International Left Opposition, 1930-c1933; Marxist Group, 1937-1938; Marxist League, c1931; Revolutionary Socialist League, 1938-1943; Revolutionary Socialist Party, 1938-1941; Militant Labour League, c1939; Fourth International circulars, papers, c1938-c1948; papers of Mary Morris including memoirs of the Soviet Union, 1923-1928; newspapers and bulletins including Socialist Appeal, 1941 Aug-1948 March (incomplete), and The Communist, 1932 May-1934 January (missing number 6); Socialist Workers Party (USA) internal bulletins, papers, 1936-1939; French Trotskyism journals, reports, 1936-1948.
      • Balazs Nagy papers (also known as Michel Varga) including Workers Revolutionary Party, c1976-c1995; Workers International, 1990-2014; memoirs of the rising in Hungary, 1956; Combat International, c1972-1988; Trotskyism in Eastern Europe, 1960s-1970s; Fourth International; Liga Internacionalista de los Trabajadores, c1974-1997.
      • Posadas circulars, 1963-1981: subjects include the Fourth International, Trotskyism.
      • Ernest Rogers correspondence, c1944-c1998.
      • Sri Lankan Trotskyism, 1944-, PP.CEMS1174MS1186.
      • Trotsky and black nationalism, c1990.
      • Workers’ Party of South Africa, 1938-1944: papers including aims and appeals for support, 1944.
      • Senate House Library also has significant holdings of published Trotskyist material. Descriptions are included in the main library catalogue.