Sources for Scottish Labour History in the Manuscripts
Division of the National Library of Scotland

The Manuscripts Division of the National Library of Scotland has recently produced an index to the Scottish labour history collections that they hold. The index is reproduced here with a short introduction stressing the potential value of the sources to historians of the Australian labour movement engaged in comparative studies.
The Manuscripts Division of the National Library of Scotland has arguably the finest collections of original documents relating to the working class in Scotland held anywhere in the world. This subject index is intended as a route for scholars into these sources, enabling research to be planned more effectively. It is also hoped that by providing a reference work to the Scottish labour history collections, use of the manuscripts by as many people as possible can be encouraged. It may, at first, seem strange to have an index to Scottish sources in an Australian journal. The short introduction that precedes the index is an attempt to explain why the decision has been taken to offer this index to Labour History. Briefly, it is argued below that by using comparative techniques historians can improve their analyses of the material and subjects that they are working with. Similarly, a comparison of events, movements, structures and other factors between Australia and Scotland could help to sharpen the focus of research in both countries. Through the exchange of source lists such as this one, historians can gauge what material is available and start to construct their research with the aim of incorporating as varied a range of sources as possible. This piece is written in the hope that it continues the tradition of the flow of ideas between our countries.[1]

It is by instinct, rather than design, that the majority of historians construct a comparative framework for their research. Even if they are simply sharpening the focus of their own work by illustrating it against something that is ‘other’, a comparison is still taking place. Scottish social history has a long tradition of this type of comparison. Scotland is a country of regions and Highland-Lowland, East-West, and Edinburgh-Glasgow comparisons are commonplace. Furthermore, as a country that evolved with a social, economic and political framework distinct from that of its near neighbours, research in Scotland has always benefited from a comparison with other parts of the United Kingdom or Ireland.[2] In this way the commonalities, differences and the ‘recurring themes and their moments of divergence’ in Scottish history have emerged.[3] The extension of this process to an international scale can only create further definition within Scottish history.[4]

Whilst the use of comparative techniques, as they are described above, suggests that the comparative approach is a powerful tool for the historian, comparative enquiry can be a mixed blessing if the historian is writing with a blinkered perspective; simply suggesting that their theory is the correct one to the exclusion of all other possibilities. For example, the suggestion that all societies behave in the same way, regardless of cultural differences, the idea that there is an onward march to one inescapable goal, can become just as closed and dogmatic an argument as rampant nationalism. Similarly, if the comparison is used in attempt to ‘prove’ an alleged superiority, be that of nations, culture, gender or race, then the comparative approach can be a negative influence fighting against what most historians would consider legitimate historical work.

However, having sounded this note of caution, is there any merit to the comparative framework for the study of social history? As the point of this small piece is to introduce the Australian audience to the manuscript sources for the scholar of labour history in the National Library of Scotland, it is clear that this author thinks that there is. We are all interested in the nuts and bolts of what happened in the past and it is the interest in events that first piques an interest in history in its most general sense. However, events are, to use a particularly memorable image, ‘surface disturbances, crests of foam that the tides of history carry on their strong backs’.[5] Taking a wider comparative perspective allows the historian to begin to analyse the tides and currents of history and ultimately to gain a clearer perspective on their own subject area.

It was suggested above that one of the most fundamental aspects of a comparative approach is that it allows the historian to sharpen their focus on the particular aspects of their own research by defining it against the more general themes that apply across boundaries, be they gender, geography, or another factor.[6] This does not necessarily mean that the comparative method should be used to attempt to create a taxonomy of historical tides that can be applied regardless of the specific or local, as this could lead to an ethnocentric or possibly even racist conclusion.[7] For example, it would be wrong to simply assume that the British model of Trade Unionism is the ‘normal’ model against which all other countries should be assessed.[8] Rather, comparison allows the historian, as the editor of this journal has argued in conjunction with Kealey, to isolate particular trends, actions, or factors at play across boundaries and use them to ‘develop a more sophisticated conceptual framework for understanding different historical outcomes in different countries’.[9] In a nutshell, using the comparative approach is another way which allows the historian to appreciate the ‘multi textured, multi layered nature of the historical past’.[10]

In a short introduction such as this, it impossible to delve any deeper into the methodologies and value of comparative approaches to history. However, the recent publication of a two-volume study of dock labour, based on a historical symposium organised by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, has illustrated quite clearly how the comparative perspective can shed new light on a particular sector.[11]

The links between Scotland and Australia could be a fertile ground for comparison. However, as there are few people working in this area it is impossible to surmise where the most fruitful areas for comparison exist, although the links between the two countries are easily observed. Any Archivist or Local Studies Librarian in Scotland can attest to the numbers of antipodean visitors they welcome every year who are studying their own genealogy. The emigration of Scots to Australia is well documented. Is there scope to exploit this in the area of labour history by analysing whether settlers from different areas of Scotland behave in a particular way when arriving in Australia? Was this due to Scotland being politically different to the rest of the UK? Does workplace organisation in Australia differ from that in Scotland? Why? What was the relative merit of either country’s approach in winning concessions for the workers? Why did the Australian Labor Party achieve success at the polls in a much shorter time frame than in Britain? Does the support for the Labour movement in Scotland at a popular level have more in common with Australia than it does with parts of England? More specific questions are also possible. Did Australia see rent strikes that mirrored those in Glasgow and Dundee up to and during the First World War? Would the sources held by the National Library of Scotland, as part of the Keir Hardie collection, regarding his world tour and visit to Australia, when combined with sources from that country, allow a historian to draw any conclusions on his influence on the Australian Labour movement?[12] These are just suggestions, but they are the types of questions to which an analysis of sources in the two countries could create fascinating answers.

To give a single example of an area that could be looked at comparatively it is worth looking at the influence of one person in both countries, Tom Mann.[13] Farrell has argued that the arrival of Mann in Australia in 1902 and his subsequent lectures and writing became a key element in promoting the debate about socialism in Australia, in both the Labor Party itself and amongst conservatives who were keen to engage with the debate. Moreover, Farrell notes Mann’s increasing use of syndicalist arguments towards the end of his time in Australia.[14 ]This is not the place to discuss the validity of Farrell’s arguments, they are simply used here as they point to a parallel in Scotland. On Mann’s return from Australia he became active as one of the key speakers during the period of the ‘Labour Unrest’ in Britain from 1910-14, and was arrested for his role during the Liverpool transport workers strike of 1911.[15] This wave of strikes was particularly prominent in Scotland and Mann spoke at many of the strike meetings, even acting as a key member of strike committees and negotiating on behalf of the strikers.[16] Are there parallels between Mann’s actions in Australia and the UK? Did he take a position in Australia which became increasingly radical upon his return to the UK, or was his time in Australia the primary influence in the formation of the syndicalist position which he argued for during the UK Labour Unrest? The questions could be extended to ask if there was a similar period of unrest in Australia and, if so, does the time frame for the unrest match the British one? Did other speakers who spent time in Australia, such as Ben Tillet, have similar experiences during their time in Australia and how did they respond when they visited Scotland?[17]

If the value of conducting comparative analysis as one aspect of historical research is accepted then the value of an index such as this one becomes clear. How do historians find out about sources elsewhere that will aid them in their research, and indeed should they? One of the criticisms of comparative history is that the written form of any comparative research is necessarily a work of synthesis of secondary material. It is difficult to take in the sources of all the places that you would wish to compare, particularly when working on an international scale.[18] This is a fair criticism, and perhaps explains why many of the better comparative works use authors working in their own locality who come together to produce a volume drawing on their local expertise to produce a comparative analysis. It can be argued, however, that the best way to combat the problem of the lack of use of original sources is to provide as much information as possible to those who would use them. The internet is helping with this process and a version of the subject list that follows is available online.[19] However, a permanent list that can be referred to time and again, and more importantly annotated, still has a role to play. If Hobsbawm’s assertion that ‘the Industrial Revolution marks the most fundamental transformation of human life in the history of the world recorded in written documents’ remains accurate, then the written documents to which he refers are vital to anyone who wishes to study the ‘fundamental transformation’ that the process of industrialisation created (and is still creating) across the globe.[20] It is by exchanging lists of sources, encouraging their use, and ultimately sharing our research that allows us to analyse the tides of history, comparatively or otherwise.

What follows is a summary list of the Scottish labour history collections held by the Manuscripts Division of the National Library of Scotland split into five categories. Within each category the collections are listed in alphabetical order under generic headings. For example, for the reference to the records of the Typographical Societies that we hold, look under ‘Printers’. For each entry there is a brief description of the collection, covering dates and a note of the collections’ reference number or numbers. Category six has been included to provide a note of some secondary works that may benefit Australian scholars. Anyone requiring further information is welcome to contact the staff of the Manuscripts Division who will be happy to help.[21]

The index is arranged in the following subject areas:

1. Trade Unions and Co-operative Societies
2. The Labour Party
3. Other Labour or Socialist Parties and Organisations, including Educational Bodies affiliated to Trade Unions
4. Papers of individuals connected with the Trade Union and Labour movement and other Socialist groups
5. Miscellaneous Papers
6. Some Useful Secondary Works

1. Trade Unions and Co-operative Societies
Note: surviving records of Scottish co-operative societies formerly held by the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society in their Glasgow Head Office have been deposited with the City of Glasgow Council Archives, Mitchell Library, North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN.

BLIND & DISABLED: Acc.4686, Acc.9418. records of National League of the Blind and Disabled, Edinburgh Branch, 1943-75; Scottish District Council minutes and reports, 1942-85.

BOILERMAKERS, SHIPWRIGHTS, BLACKSMITHS & STRUCTURAL WORKERS: Acc.4596, Acc.4727. records of Amalgamated Society of Boilermakers, Shipwrights, Blacksmiths and Structural Workers, Leith Shipwrights Section Records, 1873-1918; Leith no. 1 and no. 2 Branch minutes, 1945-65.

BOOKBINDERS: Acc.11459. letter-book of the Secretary of the Edinburgh Union Society of Journeymen Bookbinders, including correspondence with sister societies in London, Glasgow, Dumfries, Manchester, and Dublin, 1822-55.

BREWERY WORKERS: Acc.4962. minutes of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, Brewery Branch, Edinburgh, 1942-46.

BUILDING WORKERS: Acc.4724. minutes of the Edinburgh Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Marble and Granite Workers (later the Building and Monumental Workers’ Association of Scotland (Granite Workers Section), which became part of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers), 1919-59.

BUILDING WORKERS: Acc.4758. minutes of the Edinburgh Branch of the Constructional Engineering Union, 1942-46.

BUILDING WORKERS: see also Painters, Plasterers, Plumbing, Slaters.


CABINET AND CHAIRMAKERS: Acc.5436. records of the Edinburgh Branch of the Scottish National Union of Cabinet and Chairmakers (later the United Operative Cabinet and Chairmakers’ Association of Scotland), the Edinburgh Society of Cabinet and Chairmakers, and the United Furniture Trades Committee of Edinburgh, 1833-1937.

CARTERS: Dep.174. records of Scottish Commercial Motormen’s Union and predecessor bodies (Scottish Carters’ Association and Scottish Horse and Motormen’s Association), 1890-1966.

CLERKS: Acc.4723. records of the Edinburgh Branch of the National Union of Clerks, 1911-19.

COACHMAKERS: see Vehicle Builders.

CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY (BORDER): Acc.4772; Dep.177. records of Galashiels Co-operative Society, 1846-1909; Galashiels Waverley Co-operative Society, 1867-1909; Galashiels Co-operative Coal Society, 1879-1911; Galashiels United Cooperative Society, 1909-51; Peebles Co-operative Society, 1889-1967; and Innerleithen and Walkerburn Co-operative Society, 1875-1961.

CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY (BRECHIN UNITED): Acc.4827. records, 1833-1945.

CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY (KINGSKETTLE): Mf.MSS.163. microfilm of records of the Kingskettle Co-operative Society (Fife), 1826-1902.

CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY (SCOTTISH MIDLAND): Acc.11835. minutes, business records, correspondence and papers of St. Cuthbert’s Co-operative Association, Edinburgh, and other constituents of the Scottish Midland Co-operative Society, 1864-1991.

COOPERS: Acc.4135. records of the Edinburgh and District Branch of the National Trade Union of Coopers, 1902-65.

DOCKERS: Acc.11457. miscellaneous papers relating to dockers in the port of Leith, Edinburgh, the Transport and General Workers Union, Leith Docks branch, and industrial relations and operation of the port of Leith, 1873-1974.

ELECTRICAL TRADES’ UNION: Acc.4314. records of the Edinburgh Central Branch, Electrical Trades Union, 1926-60.

ENGINEERS: Acc.4516, Acc.5734, Acc.4725, Acc.9853. records of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, Edinburgh District Committee, 1915-44; reports of wage negotiations with East of Scotland employers, 1908-37; Edinburgh Central Branch records, 1936-59; Musselburgh Branch minutes, 1919-80.

FOUNDRY WORKERS: Acc.5010, Acc.5088, Acc.9095; Dep.204. records of Scottish constituents of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, Foundry Section, 1840-1946, 1889-1967, 1867-1947.

GENERAL & MUNICIPAL WORKERS: Acc.4525. records of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, Edinburgh No. 5 Branch, 1917-61.

INSURANCE OFFICIALS: Acc.4726. records of the Guild of Insurance Officials, Edinburgh Branch, 1923-56.

JOURNALISTS: see Elliot (Donald M.).



MINEWORKERS: Dep.176, box 2/1. membership register of the Ayrshire Miners’ Union, 1892.

MINEWORKERS: Dep.304. minutes of Fife and Kinross Miners’ Association, 1901-13.

MINEWORKERS: MSS.8023-5. minutes of Larkhall Miners’ Association [Lanarkshire], 1890-94.

MINEWORKERS: Dep.227, Dep.258; Acc.4311, Acc.4312, Acc.10483. records of former district offices of the National Union of Mineworkers, Scottish Area: Ayr, 1924-72 (Dep.258, Acc.10483); Fife, 1918-63 (Acc.4311); Lanark, 1887-1967 (Dep.227); and Lothians, 1894-1946 (Acc.4312).

MINEWORKERS: Acc.9805. a large series of correspondence files, minute books and other records (321 files) from the Edinburgh Head Office of the National Union of Mineworkers, Scottish Area, 1911-85.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.10483. letter-books of the secretaries of the Gilmerton, Loanhead and Burghlee branches of the Lothians District, National Union of Mineworkers, Scottish Area, 1947-61.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.10812. further records from the Edinburgh Head Office, National Union of Mineworkers, Scottish Area, 1947-85, including: full original draft of R. Page Arnot, ‘A History of the Scottish Miners from Earliest Times’ (abridged version published as History of the Scotish Miners, London, 1955); minute books, 1966-69 of the Easthouses Branch; photograph album from Polish miners, c. 1950; and some union publications relating to Scottish pit disasters, 1950-59.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.4570. records of the Scottish Colliery Enginemen, Boilermen and Tradesmens’ Association and predecessor bodies (United Engine Keepers’ Mutual Protective Association of Scotland, Scottish Colliery Enginemen and Boilermens’ Association), 1877-1965.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.4730, Acc.4731, Acc.4732. three photographs relating to Fife mineworkers, c1900, 1926, c1930.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.4825. copies of various militant miners and associated local Communist parties’ news sheets, 1925-31.

MINEWORKERS: Acc.5056. promissory note for one shilling issued by the Bowhill Branch of the Fife Miners’ Union during a strike ‘for recognition of minimum wage’, 1920.

MUSICIANS: Acc.4341. records of the Edinburgh Branch, Musicians’ Union, 1908-48.

PAINTERS: Acc.4235, Acc.11861. minutes and roll-books of the Scottish Painters’ Society, Edinburgh Central Branch, 1872-1920, 1942-60.

PAINTERS: Acc.4412. records of the Edinburgh District Committee of the Scottish Painters’ Society, 1898-1950.

PLASTERERS: Acc.4411. records of Edinburgh and Montrose Branches of Scottish National Operative Plasterers’ Union, 1864-1955.

PLUMBING: Acc.4961, Acc.4722. records of Edinburgh and Leith Lodges, Plumbing Trades Union, 1872-1920, 1942-60.

PLUMBING: Acc.4339. copies of notes by J. O. French on the history of the United Operative Plumbers’ Association of Great Britain, 1865-1965, predecessor of the Plumbing Trades Union, 1965.

POSTAL WORKERS: Acc.11553. minutes and other records of Edinburgh and East of Scotland branches of the Union of Communication Workers, formerly the Union of Post Office Workers, 1924-90.

PRINTERS: Acc.9792, Acc.9845. National Union of Operative Printers and Assistants (NATSOPA), Edinburgh and Granton Chapel minutes, 1941-48.

PRINTERS: Acc.5277/7. minutes of the Dundee Typographical Society (a member of the Scottish Typographical Association), Dundee Courier & Argus Chapel, 1879-97.

PRINTERS: Acc.4068, Acc.4593. records of the Edinburgh Typographical Society (a member of the Scottish Typographical Association), Press and Machinemens’ Section records, 1873-1955.

PRINTERS: Acc.3035. minutes and other papers of the Edinburgh Branch, Printing and Kindred Trades Federation, 1907-46.

PRINTERS, BOOKBINDERS, MACHINE-RULERS & PAPER WORKERS: Acc.4395. records of Edinburgh branches of the National Union of Printers, Bookbinders, Machine-Rulers and Paper Workers (including predecessor societies), 1822-1956.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: Acc.4971. records of the Scottish Region, National Union of Public Employees [now part of UNISON], 1920-62.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: Acc.4595. records of the Edinburgh Gas Section of the National Association of Local Government Officers, 1954-63.

RAILWAY CLERKS: Acc.4262. copies of documents regarding the Railway Clerks Association Scottish salaries movement and recognition fight and Scottish advisory council, 1912-48.

RAILWAY CLERKS: Acc.4667. records of Edinburgh no. 1 Branch of the Railway Clerks’ Association, later the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, 1928-61.

RAILWAYMEN: Acc.4313, Acc.4342; Dep.188. records of branches no. 1 and no. 3 of the National Union of Railwaymen, Edinburgh, 1876-1958; Leith Branch records, 1897-1907.

RAILWAYMEN: Acc.4597. two decorative scrolls from the Portobello Branch of the National Union of Railwaymen, 1890, c1919.

RAILWAYMEN: Acc.4729. records of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Glasgow Maryhill Branch, 1914-56.

SCOTTISH TRADES UNION CONGRESS: Mf.MSS.36-141, Mf.MSS.176-177, Mf.MSS.200-207, Mf.MSS.217-219, Mf.MSS.232-236, Mf.MSS.458-841. microfilm copies of the bound series of General Council minutes, reports and papers, 1897-1980.

SCOTTISH TRADES UNION CONGRESS: Acc.4683, Acc.4333. minutes and papers of trades councils affiliated to the Congress, 1948-72; correspondence of the General Council officers with the National Union of Journalists, and the National Union of Bank Employees, 1927-57.

SCOTTISH TRADES UNION CONGRESS: [restricted – listing in progress]. correspondence files of the General Secretary and other General Council officers from the Congress office, Glasgow, c1960-85.

SEAMEN: Acc.4222, Acc.5225, Acc.5428, Acc.11555. minutes of the Leith (1918-36, 1945-67) and Ardrossan (1919-65) branches of the National Union of Seamen; photocopies of some official registration books and certificates of discharge of merchant seamen, 1937-84 (Acc.11555).

SHEET METAL WORKERS AND BRAZIERS: Acc.4050. records of the Edinburgh no. 1 Branch (incorporating earlier unions) of the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers and Braziers, 1866-1952.

SHERIFF CLERKS: Dep.371. records of the Sheriff Clerks’ Association of Scotland, 1877-1944.

SHIPWRIGHTS: Acc.5017. copy of a membership card from Shipwrights’ Provident Union of Leith, 1824.

SHOP WORKERS: Acc.3537; Dep.359. minutes of the Leith Branch and Edinburgh District Council of Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers and predecessor body (National Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehouse-men and Clerks), 1930-43; records of the Edinburgh Branch, 1916-82.

SLATERS: Acc.12076 [some files restricted]. records of the Edinburgh Branch of the Transport and General Workers Union, Scottish Slaters’ Section and predecessor bodies (Slaters’ Regalia Fund, Amalgamated Operative Slaters of Scotland, United Operative Slaters of Edinburgh and Leith, Amalgamated Slaters’ Society of Scotland) 1858-1977.

SLATERS: Acc.4707. records of the Amalgamated Slaters’ Society of Scotland Central Board, and Fort William and Lanark branches, 1913-63.

TRADES COUNCIL (EDINBURGH & DISTRICT): Acc.4676, Acc.11177. microfilm copies of minutes, 1859-1949, and of annual reports and miscellaneous papers, 1921-54 (Acc.4676). Records, 1859-1981 including minute-books of the Council, 1859-1981; annual reports and balance-sheets, 1868-1974; political committee minutes, 1926-28; minutes and ledger of the Scottish Workers’ Representation Committee, Edinburgh Branch, 1905-19; and some letters and papers, 1903-28 (Acc.11177).

TRANSPORT: Acc.4269. minutes of the Edinburgh 7/21 (Corporation Transport) Branch of the Transport and General Workers Union, 1949-51.

TRANSPORT: see Carters, Dockers, Railwaymen, Seamen, Vehicle Builders.

UPHOLSTERERS: Acc.4071. minutes of the Edinburgh Upholsterers’ Society (later incorporated in the National Union of Furniture Trade Operatives), 1891-98.

VEHICLE BUILDERS: Acc.4046. three ‘tramp books’ of Edinburgh-based members of the United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers, 1863-94.

VEHICLE BUILDERS: Acc.4572. records of the National Union of Vehicle Builders, Edinburgh Branch, 1867-1929.

VEHICLE BUILDERS: Acc.12068 [some files restricted]. records of the Edinburgh Branch of the Transport and General Workers Union, Automotive Section and predecessor bodies (United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers, National Union of Vehicle Builders) 1911-87.

WEAVERS: Acc.4702. records of Fenwick Weavers’ Society, 1761-1873.

WEAVERS: Acc.4963. copy of the membership, minute and account book of the Ravel Society of Weavers of Darvel, Ayrshire, 1865-72.

WOODWORKERS: Acc.4594. records of the Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists, Edinburgh Branch, 1898-1956.

WOODWORKERS: Acc.4685, Acc.4959; Dep.367. records of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers, Edinburgh 1 st Branch, 1866-1966; records of the Edinburgh Abbeyhill Branch, 1930-61; minutes, correspondence and papers of the South East of Scotland District management committee, with other branch minutes, 1866-1980.

2. The Labour Party
DALKEITH LOCAL LABOUR PARTY: Dep.200. minutes, 1935-51.

EDINBURGH BRANCH, LABOUR PARTY: Dep.306. minute book, 1911-14, and notes, 1980, by Russell A. Fox on the minutes.

EDINBURGH CENTRAL BRANCH INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY: Acc.5241. minutes, with some correspondence and papers, 1911-24.

EDINBURGH DISTRICT LABOUR PARTY: Acc.11922. minutes, correspondence and papers, 1956-83.

EDINBURGH SOUTH CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTY: Dep.203. minutes, 1922-60, 1962-75; account book, 1922-30.

LEITH DIVISIONAL LABOUR PARTY: Acc.4977/16-18. minutes, 1939-56.

ROXBURGH AND SELKIRK DIVISIONAL LABOUR PARTY: Acc.4145. minute book, 1925-55 and account book, 1925-49; minute books of Hawick Labour Party, 1918-55, and of its Women’s Section, 1924-53.

3. Other Labour or Socialist Parties and Organisations, including Educational Bodies affiliated to Trade Unions
EDINBURGH SOCIALIST SUNDAY SCHOOLS: Acc.4977/1-6. minutes, 1905-31.

FABIAN SOCIETY: Acc.4977/7-15. Edinburgh Fabian Society minutes, 1909-60.

LABOUR CRUSADERS: Acc.5346. copy of a membership card of the Labour Crusaders youth movement, 1897.

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LABOUR COLLEGES (NCLC): Acc.5120, Acc.6889. records, including minutes, correspondence and papers of the Labour College, Oxford, Scottish Labour College, Central Labour College, London; the Plebs’ League; and the NCLC Publishing Society, 1909-65.

SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY [estd. 1976]: Acc.7472. minutes correspondence and papers of the Edinburgh Branch, 1976-79. [this is a separate body to the main Labour Party established as a breakaway party]

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC FEDERATION: Acc.5641. minutes of the executive committee and trustees, 1931-41; associate members’ register, 1930-39; cash book, 1925-40.

WORKERS’ EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION (WEA): Acc.11551. minutes, annual reports, correspondence and papers of the South-East Scotland District and Scottish Council of the WEA, 1925-93.

4. Papers of individuals connected with the Trade Union and Labour movement and other Socialist groups
AIRLIE (John McDiarmid), Labour councillor and parliamentary candidate: Acc.11566. miscellaneous letters and papers, 1912-33, associated with the Airlie printed collection, including material on the Ayr Burghs parliamentary election, 1924.

ANNAND (J. K.), Secretary of Edinburgh University Socialist Society: Acc.4190. copies of ten letters to Annand including letters from J. Ramsay MacDonald, Mrs. Beatrice Webb and R. B. Cunninghame-Graham, 1928-29.

CLUNIE (James), Labour M.P.: Acc.4334. some correspondence, 1908-62, chiefly letters from John MacLean, 1921-23.

CRAIGEN (James Mark), Labour and Co-op M.P. and administrator: Acc.10316, Acc.10476. papers, 1971-91, including Scottish Trade Union Congress papers on unemployment; M.Litt thesis on the history of the STUC; papers on Scottish devolution, 1968-84; papers relating to the Co-operative Party and the Co-operative Wholesale Society, 1960-91; and on the Trustee Savings Banks flotation, 1983-86.

DUNCAN (Joseph Forbes), Independent Labour Party activist and trade union leader: Acc.5490, Acc.5601. correspondence and papers, 1905-08, 1914-63.

DUNLOP (John), member of the XV International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War: Acc.12087. papers relating to Dunlop’s time in Spain, and more recent correspondence and papers regarding the International Brigade Association and writings on the Spanish Civil War by John Dunlop and others, 1937-99.

ELLIOT (Donald M.), member of the National Union of Journalists: Acc.6302. some papers, 1926-40, relating to his activities in the National Union of Journalists, Edinburgh Branch; papers relating to wartime press censorship in Scotland, 1939-40.

FLYNN (Thomas Vincent), General Secretary of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades: Acc.11504. correspondence and papers, 1923-91, including material relating to politics and the theatre in Glasgow, 1943-83, the history of the bookbinding unions, and industrial relations in London, 1972-76.

GOLLAN (John), General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain: Acc.11479. drafts for a biography (unpublished) by Margot Kettle, including tapes of interviews with friends and associates, c1990.

GRIEVE (Christopher Murray) [Hugh MacDiarmid], poet, Scottish Nationalist and Communist: Acc.7361, Acc.10517. political correspondence (c5000 letters), 1929-78, some relating to his relations with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Acc.7361); and correspondence and papers relating to his election campaign as Communist candidate in Kinross and West Perthshire, 1964.

HARDIE (James Keir), M.P. and Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party: Dep.176, MSS.20670, ff.98-99. some personal correspondence and papers (including photographs), 1889-1915 (Dep. 176), and minutes of the provisional committee for the foundation of the Daily Herald written and signed by James Keir Hardie, 1911(MSS.20670, ff.98-99).

HUGHES (Emrys), author, journalist and Labour M.P.: Dep.176. correspondence and papers, 1914-69, including an unpublished autobiography, and correspondence as editor of the Forward newspaper, Glasgow, 1931-46.

JOHNSTON (Thomas), journalist, Labour M.P. and Secretary of State for Scotland: Acc.5862. a small collection of surviving personal papers and letters, 1904-57.

LAWSON (George McArthur), Labour M.P.: Acc.9588. political correspondence and papers, 1948-78, including material relating to the Scottish steel industry, and to the “No” campaign in the Scottish devolution referendum, 1978.

LIVINGSTONE (Angus Cook), Independent Labour Party activist, Provost of Bo’ness, West Lothian: Acc.9630. a small collection of political letters and papers [photocopies of originals], 1911-32.

MACDONALD (J Ramsay), Labour Prime Minister: Acc 11180. a collection of letters and telegrams of condolence following the death of his wife, Margaret Ethel MacDonald, 1911.

MACKAY (Benjamin Skene), Labour activist, Organising Secretary, National Union of Vehicle Builders: Acc.9741. a small collection of personal papers, c1910-30.

MACKINTOSH (John Pitcairn), historian, political scientist and Labour M.P: Dep.323 [some files restricted]. political and academic correspondence and papers, 1944-78.

MACLEAN (John), Clydeside socialist: Acc.4251, Acc.4335. family and political correspondence and papers, 1909-23; papers concerning him, 1924-73.

MATHERS (George), Labour M.P. and Deputy Chief Whip, Baron Mathers of Newton St. Boswells: Acc.4826. personal and political correspondence and papers, 1915-61.

MILLAR (James Primrose Malcolm), General Secretary, National Council of Labour Colleges: Acc.5120, Acc.5695. correspondence and papers, 1913-65, in the NCLC archive; papers, 1926, relating to the General Strike in Edinburgh (Acc.5695).

MUIRHEAD (Roland Eugene), Independent Labour Party supporter and Scottish Nationalist: Acc.3721. personal correspondence and records of his Scottish Secretariat, includes correspondence with many Labour M.P.’s, and material relating to his financial and other support of the ILP and of the Glasgow Forward, c1900-60.

MURRAY (David), industrial journalist and broadcaster: Acc.7914, Acc.7915. correspondence and papers, 1934-74. Much of the correspondence, 1936-42, relates to the Independent Labour Party and to its involvement in the Spanish Civil War; and (1934-45) to the iron and steel industry.

MURRAY (Thomas), Communist activist: Acc.9083. correspondence and papers, including letters from Spain, and material relating to the Spanish Civil War, 1923-68.

RITCHIE-CALDER (Peter), Baron Ritchie-Calder of Balmashannar, science writer, journalist, and Labour Life Peer: Dep. 370; Acc.10318. correspondence and papers, 1940-81.

SHAW (Benjamin), Scottish Secretary of the Labour Party: Acc.6471. a small collection of personal letters and papers, 1893-1922.

SMALL (William), Lanarkshire miners’ leader: Acc.3350. a small collection of papers relating to his public life, including an autobiographical memoir, 1899-1953.

WOODBURN (Arthur), Labour M.P., Secretary of State for Scotland: Acc.7656. correspondence and papers, including drafts of an unpublished autobiography, 1907-78.

5. Miscellaneous Papers
EARLY SOCIALISM: Acc.4451. album of newspaper cuttings compiled by Alexander Dalrymple, c1894-1906.

FORWARD –v– THE UNITED TURKEY RED COMPANY: Acc.6088. copy papers relating to the case against the ‘Forward’ printing and publishing company following the publication of statements on the working conditions in the United Turkey Red Company’s works, 1911.

HUNGER MARCHES: Acc.10481/3-4, Acc.10801/38-44, Acc.11097/3 [restricted]. verbatim transcripts from tape of interviews, 1990-91, of Ian MacDougall with thirty two Scottish participants in hunger marches within or from Scotland in the 1930s, used for his book, Voices from the Hunger Marches; with associated research correspondence and papers, 1986-91.

INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY in Bo’ness and district, West Lothian: Acc.9630, Acc. 11087. unpublished narratives and research notes for a history of the of the ILP in the district between 1903 and 1932 compiled by James Livingstone 1985-c1990.

MINING LIFE: Acc.10801/37 [restricted]. verbatim transcripts from tapes of interviews with miners working in Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange (now part of the Scottish Mining Museum) and other pits of the Lothian Coal Company, many during the period of of Mungo MacKay as General Manager; recorded by Ian MacDougall, 1980-91.

RUSSIAN PHOTOGRAPHS: Acc.5435. prints from original photographs of political events in Soviet Russia, c1920.

SCOTTISH LABOUR HISTORY SOCIETY: Acc.7554, Acc.10482, Acc.11096 [restricted]. correspondence and papers of the Secretary, 1963-93.

SCOTTISH WORKING PEOPLES’ HISTORY TRUST: Acc.11306/13-25, Acc.12066 [restricted]. minutes, correspondence and other papers of the Secretary, 1986-97

SPANISH CIVIL WAR: Acc.10042, Acc.10043. photocopies of original photographs and papers from International Brigade veterans from Aberdeen who fought in Spain, 1936-39.

SPANISH CIVIL WAR: Acc.10481/1-2, Acc.11306/26-35 [restricted]. verbatim transcripts from tapes of interviews by Ian MacDougall, 1984-85, with Scottish veterans of the International Brigade used in his book, Voices from the Spanish Civil War (1986); and research correspondence and papers, 1986-90.

SPANISH CIVIL WAR: see also Dunlop (John), Murray (David), and Murray (Thomas).

SOCIALIST MOVEMENT, in Edinburgh: Acc.4965. a copy of an unpublished narrative on ‘Early days of the Socialist Movement in Edinburgh’, c1884-93; original compiled by John Gilray, 1909.

SOCIALIST MOVEMENT, in Scotland: Acc.10801/34 [restricted]. transcripts of tape interviews recorded, 1962-86, by Ian MacDougall, from veterans of the socialist and trade union movements, 1914-39.

6. Some Useful Secondary Works[22]

I. MacDougall, Labour Records in Scotland, Scottish Labour History Society, Edinburgh, 1978, remains the only comprehensive attempt to produce a union catalogue of sources of the working class movement in Scotland. Although it is over 20 years since its production, this volume remains an essential tool for the scholar of labour history in Scotland. Two other useful printed catalogues of archival sources, although covering all of Great Britain rather than just Scotland, are C. Cook, Sources in British Political History, 1900-1951, 6 vols, London, 1975-85, and C. Cook, J. Leonard & P. Leese, The Longman Guide to Sources in Contemporary British History, 2 vols, London, 1994.

For research into individuals involved in the labour movement the first port of call remains J.M. Bellamy & J. Saville, Dictionary of Labour Biography, 9 vols, Macmillan, Hampshire, 1972-93. However, for biographies of Scottish individuals W. Knox, Scottish Labour Leaders 1918-1939: a Biographical Dictionary, Mainstream, Edinburgh, 1984, contains some entries that are not in Bellamy and Saville’s work. Researchers may also find that J.O. Baylen & N.J. Gossman, Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals, 3 vols, Harvester, Hertfordshire, 1979-88, and M. Stenton & S. Lees, Who’s Who of British Members of Parliament, 4 vols, Harvester, Hertfordshire, 1976-81, contain information germane to their studies. Finally the standard British reference works, Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Who’s Who, A. & C. Black, London, Who Was Who, A. & C. Black, London, and Who’s Who in Scotland, Carrick Media, Irvine, are also exceedingly useful when checking biographical detail.

It is impossible here to list all the books of relevance to the historian of Scottish labour. However, there are some general works which will lead the researcher into more detailed studies. W. Knox, Industrial Nation: Work, Culture and Society in Scotland, 1800-Present, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1999; O. Checkland & S. Checkland, Industry & Ethos: Scotland 1832-1914, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1989; C. Harvie, No Gods and Precious Few Heroes: Scotland Since 1914, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1981; and W.H. Fraser, Scottish Popular Politics: From Radicalism to Labour, Polygon, Edinburgh, 2000, are all good places to start secondary reading. In particular Knox has produced the most readable work of synthesis on Scottish society of recent times. No list such as this would be complete without mention of W.H. Marwick, A Short History of Labour in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1967, which remains the pioneering work of its type in Scotland.

The spectre of the events of the Red Clyde hangs over Scottish labour history, acting as the touchstone to which many return to time and again. The book at the centre of the debate surrounding the events in Glasgow during and immediately after the First World War is I. Mclean, The Legend of Red Clydside, John Donald, Edinburgh, reprinted edition 1999. This revised version of Mclean’s book contains an introduction in which he engages with some of the critics of his work since its original publication in 1983. The book and its introduction represent the best way to begin to research this subject and its many implications for the labour movement in twentieth century Scotland. For a broader introduction to the historiography on the Red Clyde, T. Brotherstone, ‘Does Red Clydeside Really Matter Anymore?’ in R. Duncan & A. McIvor (eds), Militant Workers: Labour and Class Conflict on the Clyde 1900-1950, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1992, neatly analyses the writing on this subject.[23]

There has been a conscious attempt amongst Scottish social historians, in recent years, to get beyond the Red Clyde specifically, and the Glasgow-Edinburgh ‘central belt’ of Scotland in a more general sense. Professor Chris Whatley has argued that ‘far too much Scottish economic and social history is written as if Scotland begins and ends in Edinburgh and Glasgow’, and his book, C.A. Whatley, Scottish Society 1707-1830: Beyond Jacobitism, towards industrialisation, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000, makes an admirable attempt to draw on, and compare, sources from across Scotland.[24] Labour historians may also find much of interest in C.M.M. MacDonald & E.W. McFarland (eds), Scotland and the Great War, Tuckwell Press, East Lothian, 1999, particularly the chapters by W. Kenefick, ‘War Resisters and Anti-Conscription in Scotland: an ILP Perspective’, and C.M.M. MacDonald, ‘May 1915: Race, Riot and Representations of War’, both of which take a comparative approach between events in different parts of Scotland. Similarly, M. Cornwall & M. Frame (eds), Scotland and the Slavs: Cultures in Contact 1500-2000, Oriental Research Printers, Newtonville, MA, 2001, contains three chapters on ‘Scotland and the Russian Revolution’ which help to set ‘Scottish [labour] history within a framework that extends far beyond the country’s borders’.[25]

Another rich source of scholarship on the events of the Red Clyde, and indeed on Scottish labour history in general, is the Journal of the Scottish Labour History Society [from 1998 onwards re-titled Scottish Labour History][26] For over 30 years and 36 volumes contributions to this journal have ranged over the whole gamut of Scottish labour history in a similar way to contributors to Labour History in Australia. Similarly, the journal of the Society for the Study of Labour History, Labour History Review provides scholarly articles on British labour history.[27] A final journal source to note is volume 4 of the journal of the Scottish Records Association, Scottish Archives, 1998, which was a themed issue on sources for Scottish political history, and contains articles relevant to the labour historian.


* The author wishes to dedicate this piece to the memory of his grandfathers, George Bell and Frank Beaney. They were both interested in politics in their own way and are greatly missed by all who knew them. The work of Iain Maciver, Head of Manuscripts Division, National Library of Scotland in producing the first version of this list has been vital to the production of this article. Equally Iain was the member of the Manuscripts staff who accepted the deposit of, arranged, and listed the majority of the labour history collections in the NLS. I would also like to acknowledge the help of my friends Dr William Kenefick, University of Dundee, and Mr Craig D Amy for their comments on a draft of this piece.

1. R. Burns, ‘To a Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church’, in J. Kinsley, The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, vol. 1, Oxford University Press, London, 1968, p. 194. Perhaps the use of the sources described above will go some of the way towards achieving this aim.

2. See W. Knox, Industrial Nation: Work Culture and Society in Scotland, 1800-Present, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1999, for an explanation of the forces and factors at play in Scottish political, economic and social life for the period he covers.

3. S. Davies & K. Weinhauer, ‘Towards a Comparative International History of Dockers’ in S. Davies et al, Dock Workers: International Explorations in Comparative Labour History 1790-1970, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000, p. 10.

4. The question of the use of comparison within Scotland can be illustrated by two examples. Firstly, the body of research on the Labour Unrest of 1910-14 on the West Coast of Scotland (see W. Kenefick & A. McIvor (eds), The Roots of Red Clydeside 1910-1914? Labour Unrest and Industrial Relations in West Scotland, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1996) was partly instigated as a response to an over-concentration on the unrest in England. This research in the west of Scotland then highlighted the need for research on the east, and comparative techniques became a key part of determining whether the Labour Unrest in Scotland extended beyond the Clydeside area. See University of Dundee unpublished honours dissertations: A.R. Bell, A Glorious Lesson in Solidarity? The Dundee Carters’ Strike 1911, 1999, University of Dundee Archive ref: RU 289/417; A. Petrie, The Dundee Rent Strike in 1915 in the home of ‘Scottish Radicalism’, 2000, RU 289/440; C. Davidson, Perth 1910-1922: the Sleepy Hollow of the Proletariat?, 2001, RU 289/460. Secondly, an example of the position of the Scottish sector of an industry defined through comparison with England and Ireland can be seen in W. Kenefick, ‘Rebellious and Contrary’: the Glasgow Dockers, 1853-1932, Scottish Historical Review Monograph Series No. 10, Tuckwell Press, East Lothian, 2000. Kenefick points out that ‘Glasgow [should not] be studied in isolation. What is needed is a comparative historical approach … By studying the historiography of other British docks we add to our understanding of Glasgow, and by studying the port of Glasgow we also add to the current historiography of British docks.’, p. 1.

5. F. Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, cited in J. Black &
D.M. MacRaild, Studying History, 2nd edn, Palgrave, Hampshire, 2000, p. 106.

6. Black & MacRaild, Studying, p. 106.

7. For a brief discussion of the three stages of creating a full classification, see M. Stanford, A Companion to the Study of History, Blackwell, Oxford, 1994, p. 72.

8. See S. Davies & K. Weinhauer, ‘Towards…’ in S. Davies et al (eds), Dock Workers, pp. 4-9 for an explanation of how a comparative project was constructed without the creation of a ‘normal’ model against which all other areas were assessed. Rather, a framework was created around nonlocality specific questions to allow comparative analysis.

9. G.S. Kealey & G. Patomore, ‘Introduction’ in G.S. Kealey & G. Patmore (eds), Canadian and Australian Labour History: Towards a Comparative Perspective, Australian-Canadian Studies, Nathan, Australia, 1990, p. 1.

10. Black & MacRaild, Studying, p. 108.

11. S. Davies et al (eds), Dock Workers. This book represents one of the most clearly conceived comparative studies available, drawing articles from around the world by historians researching dock labour patterns in their own areas, then in the final third of the book using these studies to conduct a far reaching and sophisticated comparative analysis of dock labour worldwide. To the labour historian the book is a fascinating insight into the dock labour sector. To anyone who is interested in comparative history it represents one of the most interesting and comprehensive projects of recent years.

12. See Dep 176, additional series nos 7, 12, 14

13. Mann is not someone for whom the Manuscripts Division of the National Library of Scotland has extensive holdings. He is simply used here as an example of the ways that the analysis of themes in Australia and Scotland could benefit from the comparative method.

14. F. Farrell, International Socialism & Australian Labour: the Left in Australia 1919-1939, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1981, pp. 6-10.

15. See E. Taplin, Near to Revolution: the Liverpool General Transport Strike 1911, Bluecoat Press, Liverpool, 1994

16. See W. Kenefick & A. McIvor (eds), The Roots of Red Clydeside, for an overview of the Labour Unrest in Scotland. For specific strikes see W. Kenefick, Ardrossan, The Key to the Clyde: a Case Study of the Ardrossan Dock Strike 1912-1913, Cunningham District Council (Library Services), Irvine, 1993; The Glasgow Labour History Workshop, The Singer Strike Clydebank, 1911, Clydebank District Library, 1989; A.R. Bell, A Glorious Lesson in Solidarity?

17. Tillet, like Mann, was involved during the Labour Unrest in the UK. See Kenefick, Ardrossan, p. 25.

18. Black & MacRaild, Studying, p. 104.

19. See The on-line version of the list will be updated periodically.

20. E. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire, rev. edn, Penguin, Middlesex, 1999, p. xi.

21. Manuscripts Division, National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EW, Tel: +44 (0)131 466 2812, Fax: +44 (0)131 466 2811, email: [email protected].

22. For reasons of space this section is restricted to books and journals. Much of value is also to be found in the national and local press in Scotland, and in the left wing press in newspapers such as Forward, The Worker and Labour Leader. Similarly, official publications such as the Board of Trade Labour Gazette, HMSO, 1905-17, which contains data on the incidence of strikes, may also be useful to the labour historian. The National Library of Scotland does have extensive newspaper, official publication, and other printed holdings, and staff in the Manuscripts Division are happy to put researchers in touch with colleagues who can assist them in these areas.

23. For further information, readings, and a digital resource dedicated to the events of the Red Clyde see

24. C.A. Whatley, ‘Perth and its Place in Scottish Society’, in Friends of Perth & Kinross Council Archive Newsletter, no. 2, 2001, p. 2. A version of this newsletter is available online at

25. ‘Preface’ to M. Cornwall & M. Frame (eds), Scotland and the Slavs: Cultures in Contact 1500-2000, Oriental Research Printers, Newtonville, MA, 2001, p. v. The three chapters are: I.D. Thatcher, ‘Representations of Scotland in Nashe Slovo during the First World War’; W. Kenefick, ‘“Aberdeen Was More Red Than Glasgow”: the Impact of the First World War and the Russian Revolution beyond Red Clydeside’; and M. Frame, ‘Dundee and the ‘Grand Purveyor’: an Aspect of Scottish-Russian Relations’.

26. See for information of the Scottish Labour History Society including an online index to journal articles.

27. See for more information on the Society for the Study of Labour History.