Trades Union Congress Library Collections
Please note from Monday 3rd October, the TUC Library Collections will be relocating to London Metropolitan University’s Old Castle Street Building. This is a considerable undertaking so please bear with us during this time. We will continue to provide an enquiry service but please be aware that during this period of transition it will take longer to deal with enquiries and there will be delays in consulting material. Both internal and external visitors will have to make appointments during this period, please understand that there will be delays in setting appointments.
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.
Admission and access
We are open Monday to Friday 09:00 - 17:00.
Please note all equipment is switched off and visitors are asked to pack up in the 15 minutes before closing time. No entry within 15 minutes of closing time.
We are closed at weekends and public holidays. During holiday periods such as Christmas and New Year check our timetable for availability. There is no charge for access. There is wheelchair access.
The Collections are available for reference only. They are available to all University staff and students and to external users who are pursuing research interests. Access to the library collections from external users is by appointment only.
Copying by external users for commercial purposes
Our CLA licence does not cover library users who are not members of the University. To enable such users to make copies for commercial purposes, the CLA has introduced a Library Licence Scheme.
External users are asked to complete a CLA form available from the Library staff and pay a fee of £14.76 (inc VAT) to the librarian, which we will then forward to the CLA. The form contains details about what is being copied and assists the CLA to distribute the money received to authors, visual artists or publishers. Please retain the photocopy (which is also your VAT receipt).
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 - 9:00 AM to 17:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday - CLOSED
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.