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Introduction

Welcome to Communist Party of Great Britain archive from Microform Academic Publishers

Communism was one of the defining movements of the 20th century and one unique in its international scope and political ambitions. Britain was no exception; and, from its formation as a section of the Moscow-based Communist International (Comintern) in 1920, the British communist party provided a pole of attraction for tens of thousands of activists on the British left.

For decades, the party's archives were a closed book to researchers, and the full story of its activities proved impossible to tell. With the dissolution of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1991, however, the decision was taken to deposit the archives alongside those of the Labour Party in Manchester's People's History Museum. Catalogued in 1993-1994, these turned out to be one of the outstanding national collections for the political history of the British left and have since aroused considerable scholarly interest. For the period from the 1940s, records of the party's central leading bodies have been meticulously preserved and include notes taken at meetings by leading party officials. In addition there are extensive records of central departments like the industrial department, which dealt with the trade union activities which were the most visible and controversial sign of the party's influence, and the international department, which maintained links with communist parties overseas.

With a very few exceptions (e.g. the congress series CP/CENT/CONG from 1920), the institutional papers of the CPGB now held at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre (LHASC), Manchester, date from 1943, the year when the earlier archives were transferred to Moscow, up to 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union... (more...)

Editorial oversight of the project and SCHOLARLY INTRODUCTION are provided by Professor Kevin Morgan, University of Manchester. Microform Academic Publishers gratefully acknowledge the permission granted by the Archive Trust of the Communist Party to reproduce this archive as an online resource (ISBN 978-1-85117-135-4) and on microfilm, and by the LHASC to derive information from its exhaustive catalogue descriptions.

To buy a licence to access any of the series series in the CPGB archive, including both institutional and individual user accounts, visit our ONLINE SHOP.

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Collections

  • EC commissions and suchlike bodies

    EC commissions and suchlike bodies

    CP/CENT/COMM. Includes materials relating to the 1951, 1958, 1968 and 1978 versions of The British road to Socialism, together with those of the later policy documents (Facing up to the future,... (more...)

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    National Cultural Committee

    National Cultural Committee

    CP/CENT/CULT. In 1975 the so-called Gould Report detailed the penetration of Marxists into British universities and drew particular attention to the CPGB's successful annual event, the Communist University of London. One... (more...)

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    J.T. and Molly Murphy papers

    J.T. and Molly Murphy papers

    CP/IND/MURP. One of the most important of the CPGB's founding leaders, J.T. (John Thomas) Murphy, known as 'Jack', took on a number of key party responsibilities over the course of the... (more...)

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  • Executive Committee

    Executive Committee

    CP/CENT/EC. Parties, like the CPGB, which were affiliated to the Communist International (or Comintern), were obliged to send transcripts of the deliberations of their leading bodies to the Comintern headquarters in... (more...)

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    Industrial Department

    Industrial Department

    CP/CENT/IND. For opponents of the CPGB, one of the most disturbing features of British communism was its alleged manipulation of trade union grievances to promote economic chaos. These were bogeys that... (more...)

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    Women's Department

    Women's Department

    CP/CENT/WOM. When the CPGB established its national women's advisory committee in 1944, it could look back on a quarter of a century of uneven but sometimes energetic campaigning addressed to women... (more...)

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  • Political Committee

    Political Committee

    CP/CENT/PC. The CPGB Political Bureau (PB), which was renamed Political Committee (PC) in 1944, was a subsidiary committee of the Central/Executive Committee. The role and function of the PB/PC was set... (more...)

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    National congresses and similar conferences

    National congresses and similar conferences

    CP/CENT/CONG. According to the rules adopted in 1943, the National Congress was the 'supreme authority' of the party and responsible for laying down the 'general lines' of its work. Delegates' notes... (more...)

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    ETU ballot-rigging trial proceedings

    ETU ballot-rigging trial proceedings

    CP/MISC/ETU. This series comprises verbatim transcripts of High Court case brought by John Thomas Byrne and Frank Chapple against Frank Foulkes and other Communist Party members re alleged ballot-rigging in the... (more...)

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  • John Gollan papers

    John Gollan papers

    CP/IND/GOLL. Long groomed as Pollitt's successor and attaining the general secretaryship of the CPGB in the difficult year of 1956, John Gollan (1911-1977) was to retain the position for some two... (more...)

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    International Department, International Affairs Committee and external relations

    International Department, International Affairs Committee and external relations

    CP/CENT/INT. Records relating to the CPGB's international functions are of particular interest given the unique significance such associations had for a communist party. Even after the Comintern's dissolution, there was no... (more...)

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    Dona Torr papers

    Dona Torr papers

    CP/IND/TORR. A Marxist editor and translator of the 1930s, Dona Torr became the doyenne of the party's younger historians initially through her involvement in writing a biography of Tom Mann. Begun... (more...)

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  • Harry Pollitt papers

    Harry Pollitt papers

    CP/IND/POLL. Harry Pollitt (1890-1960) was the CPGB's general secretary from 1929 to 1939 and 1941 to 1956. In the Stalinised communist party, the general secretary's role was a crucial one, which... (more...)

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    Campaigns and events

    Campaigns and events

    CP/CENT/EVTS. This small series contains seven files in a single box, and relates to one-off events organised in the same period, including the 'Marx with Sparx' day festival for the Marx... (more...)

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    Ben Bradley papers

    Ben Bradley papers

    CP/IND/BRAD. Benjamin Francis Bradley (1898-1957) was a communist metalworker, born in Walthamstow, who was sent to India to promote militant trade unionism in 1927 and sentenced in the infamous Meerut Conspiracy... (more...)

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  • Miscellaneous EC sub-committees & non-industrial advisory committees, etc.

    Miscellaneous EC sub-committees & non-industrial advisory committees, etc.

    CP/CENT/CTTE. Includes records for various ad hoc sub-committees or departments of the Executive Committee notably including the Parliamentary Department (CP/CENT/CTTE/01/01) which, in the late 1940s, oversaw the activities of the... (more...)

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    William Wainwright papers

    William Wainwright papers

    CP/IND/WAIN. Born in 1908, and a CPGB member from 1931, Bill Wainwright worked in a series of party and other political posts from the war years onwards. These included spells as... (more...)

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    Ivor Montagu papers

    Ivor Montagu papers

    CP/IND/MONT. An ebullient polymath of patrician background, Ivor Montagu was never one of the CPGB's inner circle of leaders and spent only a short spell on its executive committee during its... (more...)

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  • National Cultural Committee

    National Cultural Committee

    CP/CENT/CULT. In 1975 the so-called Gould Report detailed the penetration of Marxists into British universities and drew particular attention to the CPGB's successful annual event, the Communist University of London. One... (more...)

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    J.T. and Molly Murphy papers

    J.T. and Molly Murphy papers

    CP/IND/MURP. One of the most important of the CPGB's founding leaders, J.T. (John Thomas) Murphy, known as 'Jack', took on a number of key party responsibilities over the course of the... (more...)

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    Miscellaneous individuals

    Miscellaneous individuals

    CP/IND/MISC. A wide range of smaller deposits are grouped here, among them an impressive collection of unpublished memoirs. These include materials of interest to historians of trade union activism, for example... (more...)

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