Trades Union Congress Library Collections
Please note the TUC Library Collections has relocated to London Metropolitan University’s Old Castle Street Building at Aldgate. This has been a considerable undertaking and there is still much work to be done, we thank you for your patience in this adjustment phase.
General information - history and contents
History of the Library
The TUC Library was established in 1922 and was based on the integrated collections of the TUC Parliamentary Committee, the Labour Party Information Bureau, and the Women’s Trade Union League. It was run as a joint library with the Labour Party until the TUC moved to Congress House in 1956. The collection was developed for the use of the TUC and affiliated unions, but its specialisation has led to its parallel development as a major research library in the social sciences. In September 1996, the Collections moved to their new home in the London Metropolitan University Holloway Road library.
Content of Library
The TUC Library is the major research library for the study of all aspects of trade unions, collective bargaining and labour history, with both historical and contemporary coverage. The emphasis is on Britain, but many other countries are represented, especially Europe and the Commonwealth.
The core areas of the collection are the publications of the TUC since its foundation in 1868, reference and historical works on the labour and trade union movement, union publications from the UK and overseas, and documents relating to working conditions and industrial relations in various industries. The collections also contain material collected from the wide-ranging campaigns and policy areas in which the TUC has been involved over the course of its history, including social policy areas such as health, housing, education, unemployment and social security.
A major strength of the Library are the large holdings of pamphlets from unions, pressure groups and campaign movements, collected from the 19th century onwards, which have survived here as in few other comparable libraries. Important research collections cover:- union activities, international affairs, labour biography, women workers, strikes, Labour Party publications, the Communist Party and other political groups and campaigns.
The collections also contain various archive deposits, including the records of the Workers’ Educational Association, the Labour Research Department and the personal papers of Gertrude Tuckwell (1861-1951) and Marjorie Nicholson (1914-1997).
For more information see the Archives section below.
Outline descriptions of many of our archive holdings are available on the AIM 25 Archives in London website. Contact the TUC Collections for a full list.
Catalogues of the major deposits are searchable online via the following downloads:
- Alan Clinton Papers
- Denis Delay Papers
- Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers
- The Gertrude Tuckwell Papers
- Labour Research Department Archive
- London Bookbinders and Paperworkers
- The Marjorie Nicholson Collection
- Mary Macarthur Holiday Trust Archive
- Russian Collections
- SOGAT London Womens Branch
- Workers' Educational Association Library and Archive
Special format collections
There are a number of special format collections. Please note that these are developing collections and the lists below are updated as required.
- posters - over 900 posters in the TUC Collections have been listed as at January 2016
- photographs - the collection of over 11,000 photographs has not yet been catalogued and is only available for TUC and University use, but many may be seen on our history websites
- press cuttings - over 900 files of newspaper cuttings relating to personalities, trade unions and other organisations
- VHS videos - contact library for details of holdings. DVDs received since 1999 are included in the online catalogue
- 1926 General Strike newspapers
History websites and digitised resources
- The Union Makes Us Strong
An introduction to the history of the TUC and the trade union movement, including a Timeline of union history, the full text of the annual TUC Congress Reports 1868-1968, and hundreds of digitised images and documents selected from the TUC Library.
- The Workers' War
Discover the contribution working people made to the war effort during the Second World War, via oral history interviews, academic articles and hundreds of digitised images and documents.
- Winning Equal Pay
Explore the history of the struggle for equal pay for women. Includes videos on the subject of prominent equal pay strikes and hundreds of digitised images and documents.
- Britain at Work 1945-1995
Discover how the British workplace has changed during the post-war period, via oral history interviews, academic articles and digitised images and documents
Source notes on special collections:
NB: All services close and all equipment is switched off 15 minutes before closing time. No entry within 15 minutes of closing time.
Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday & Sunday - CLOSED
The Special Collections Reading Room will close at 1pm on Weds 12 April and reopen on Tuesday 18th at 9am.
16 Goulston Street
London E1 7TP
Nearest underground (Tube): Aldgate East (Circle and Hammersmith & City) and Aldgate (Metropolitan)
Nearest Bus(es): 415, 25, 67, 115, 205, 254
Parking Details: Parking is very restricted.