an introduction1 by Kevin Morgan, University of Manchester
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Stalin, to go by a famous throwaway remark, had little time for 'archive rats'. Certainly, in his day and long afterwards the nosing out of archival detritus was an activity largely denied the historians of communism. In most cases, this was as true of the communist parties set up internationally as vehicles for the revolution as it was of the USSR itself. The sudden accessibility of archives following the collapse of Europe's communist regimes consequently proved something of a revelation. For the period of the Communist International (1919-43), an enormous documentation relating both to the international and to its constituent parties was made accessible in the former Central Party Archives in Moscow. The case of the British party – the Communist Party of Great Britain, or CPGB – was typical. Files relating directly to the party itself ran to more than a thousand; others were generated by ancillary organisations, or by discussions and activities relating to British communism in Moscow. Just as importantly, the opening of these archives acted as a catalyst for a similar spirit of openness in respect of the archives retained by the parties themselves. The British case, again, is not untypical. Archivally speaking, it had for many years remained the 'forbidden no-man's land' that its first outside historian encountered in 1958.2 Its study had therefore depended considerably on the last resorts of conjecture, inference and detective work characteristic of Western Kremlinology. Already in the CPGB's final years, increasing interest in its history, both within and beyond the party's ranks, elicited at least a formal recognition of the desirability of access. However, it was only in the very final years before the CPGB's dissolution in 1991 that a process of opening up began. With its replacement in 1991 by the Democratic Left, this then culminated in the deposit of the archives in Manchester's National Museum of Labour History, now the Labour History Archive and Study Centre (LHASC) of the People's History Museum. Accessible in LHASC since the end of 1994, the collections have already given rise an extensive published literature and a series of PhD dissertations.3 With the provision of on-line access to the archives, one may be confident that the resurgence of historical interest will continue.
There is no attempt to give a summary of this literature here. The aim of this introduction is simply to provide some brief historical context regarding the creation of the archives, to outline the main classes of material to be found within the collection and to give an indication of the relationship between these and other source materials for British communism, notably in the Moscow archives.
Background and historical context
The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was formed in the summer of 1920 as a coming together of Britain's hitherto fissiparous Marxist groupings. Urged on by Lenin himself, the party not only functioned as a section of the Communist International, or Comintern, but drew the bulk of its funding from the same source. Over the course of the 1920s, these relations were cemented, for example, by the permanent representation of the CPGB at the Comintern in Moscow; and by the sending of regular enrolments of British students to the International Lenin School. Over the course of the 1930s, organisational ties were somewhat relaxed; the Lenin School closed its doors in 1935, and the Comintern had no permanent representative stationed in Britain during the entire decade. Nevertheless, the CPGB's faithful adherence to the 'Moscow' line was dramatically demonstrated by its successive reversals of policy towards the Second World War. When the Comintern was dissolved in 1943, party leader Harry Pollitt was supposed to have said that it had in effect "been... a branch of the Russian Party".4
Although it was always more than that, it is this defining relationship which explains the CPGB's singularly curious archival inheritance. In adhering to the Comintern, with its famously exacting 'twenty-one conditions' of admission, the CPGB accepted a practice of democratic centralism in which the ultimate authority of the international over its constituent parties was explicitly established. Just as the lines of accountability flowed inexorably upwards, so accordingly were the records of the Comintern's member parties sent for the scrutiny and future custody of its Moscow apparat. In the British party's case, such transfers were organised systematically from 1923, when the party had its first permanent representative in Moscow.5 The party's legendary 'glass fortress' at 16 King Street, Covent Garden, may thus be seen, archivally at least, less as a headquarters than as the national branch office indicated by Pollitt.
Doubtless key documents were retained for a period by the party itself. But the constant attentions of the Special Branch, breaking out into occasional raids on King Street, were not an inducement to careful records management. As early as May 1921 the party's secretary was arrested and its headquarters divested of every last scrap of paper, its more sensitive records only eluding the authorities through a last-minute tip-off.6 Four years later, in October 1925, twelve communist leaders were arrested and their offices stripped of all incriminating evidence, this time not excluding the King Street lavatory ballcock.7 Trial and imprisonment on trumped-up sedition charges followed. A few of the saltiest documents seized – and they mostly turned out not to be very scandalous8 – were subsequently published as a parliamentary paper, providing later historians with a rare glimpse of the party's private affairs.9 Some years later, by the same circuitous route, the only available summary of the CPGB's heated debates over the war in 1939 turned up as a War Cabinet memorandum in what is now the National Archives. Apparently the source was a raid on the home of Anne Gresser, secretarial assistant to the acting party secretary R. Palme Dutt.10 M15 files on British communists, which have begun to be released under Freedom of Information legislation, show the extent and intrusiveness of such surveillance, which was by no means confined to activities of political significance. It is therefore understandable that even the CPGB, as one of the Comintern's few continuously legal sections, did not retain significant records for immediate use. Individuals did in some cases retain documents and correspondence; and Dutt's personal deposit in the party archives comprises a particularly rich source for the party's early years. On the whole, however, it was thanks to the diligent care of Soviet archivists that a record of the party's first decades was preserved. The main organisational holdings in the CPGB's own archives date only from after the dissolution of the Comintern.
There were a number of reasons for this, not least the fact that the communist party in Britain was, in theory at least, to be regarded henceforth as an entirely autonomous organisation. Its membership at this point had peaked at over fifty thousand, boosted by Britain's wartime shift to the left and the enthusiasm that many felt for Britain's Soviet ally. In this atmosphere of benign Russophilia, the hounding of the communists by the authorities was also somewhat abated, though never discontinued – as attested by the presence of a King Street bugging device among the artefacts presented to the People's History Museum. There were to be no more raids, however, nor consignments of archives to Moscow. It is consequently in this period that appreciable quantities of official party documents began to accumulate at King Street. A reconfigured organisation department or 'org. dept.' was the key to records management; it maintained personal or 'cadre' files after the fashion of the Comintern, and similarly collected reports and correspondence from the party districts as the Comintern had its national sections. Naturally, due to differences both of resources and of political culture, the operation was on a lesser scale. Nevertheless, in the person of Betty Reid the CPGB had an extremely capable administrator, whose role in matters of 'vigilance' earned her the reputation of a tough-minded Stalinist as well as the attentions of a police spy who penetrated her own home. As the CPGB's librarian in later years, it was Reid who in a very different political climate helped initiate the process of making these archives generally accessible. Augmented in later years as the party began self-consciously to safeguard its own history, the origins of the collection go back to the records management system she helped to establish in the later war years.
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The CPGB's closed books
As late as 1986, when the present author sought access to the archive, none was provided and not even a summary description of its contents was available. The reasons for such secrecy went to the very heart of the party's identity. This, in its own perception, was no mere ginger group or fringe organisation. Rather, as its rules and programme put it, it was the vanguard of the working class, "based on the impregnable foundations of Marxist theory, the science embodying the experiences of the international working class... and demonstrated in history as the theory and practice which brings... Socialism".11 With this assertion went claims to moral authority, political consistency and scientific insight almost without parallel in British politics – at least if one excepts cuttings and offshoots from the same Leninist stock. It was in the nature of such organisations that the CPGB could brook no disinterested investigation of its flawed and tempestuous past. Claims of unity meant that internal controversies should not be disinterred. Claims of autonomy meant that links with Moscow should not fully be acknowledged. Claims of infallibility meant that somersaults and double-flips should be disregarded if possible, rationalised if not. It seemed that even the mildest and most sympathetic investigation was impermissible.
If this excluded co-operation with outside historians, it also ruled out any plausible attempt at an official party history. The experience of the first party historian, Tom Bell, was in this regard a salutary one. Bell was a leading figure in the party's formative years who spent much of the 1930s in Moscow, where he lectured at the Comintern's International Lenin School. Based as it was on such lectures, Bell's Short History of the British party was passed for publication after what seems to have been a cursory inspection in 1937. As the book was published, however, zealous critics, both in London and Moscow, noticed how awkwardly Bell's lingering sectarianism fitted with the blander nostrums of the popular front. Hastily, the volume was withdrawn, and a review savaging its hapless author appeared in the party's theoretical journal, the Labour Monthly. Amid the temporary and contingent problems identified by the reviewer, Allen Hutt, was a more fundamental objection, coyly omitted from the published review. "International experience," wrote Hutt, "even indicates that a history of the Party only becomes possible and right after the seizure of power."12 In 1937 that could only be a reference to the lying histories of the Soviet communist party, which was then dealing with its Tom Bells in an exemplary fashion. It was also to remain the CPGB's position for some two decades to come. "This booklet is in no sense an attempt to write, even briefly, an historical record of the Communist Party of Great Britain," R. Page Arnot introduced a commemorative account in 1940. "The time for that," he added pregnantly, "has not yet come."13
If power was its prerequisite, then a communist party history in Britain would remain a distant prospect. For years this assumption nevertheless went almost without demur. Among resolutions critical of the leadership at the 1945 party congress, one, moved by the Cambridge party branch, proposed that "a Commission be set up to prepare a history of the British Communist Party with analysis and documentation for its first 25 years." That the same branch also formulated a range of criticisms of the party's more immediate policies can only have confirmed suspicions of the potentially destabilising character of such an enterprise.14 Even the party's energetic Historians' Group did not take it up. A pioneering project on British labour history did seem to promise an engagement with the party's own past; but the volume that was eventually published in 1956 ended question-beggingly with the CPGB's formation. In the words of Eric Hobsbawm, a leading figure in the Historians Group: "The gap between what historians thought it necessary to write and what was regarded as officially possible and desirable... proved too large."15 Among the bolder spirits was the communist lecturer and translator, Brian Pearce, originally a Tudor historian but increasingly in the post-war years drawn to digging up unwanted relics of the CPGB's own past. Amid extravagant official paeans, Pearce had in 1949 circulated his own offering, On the twentieth anniversary of Comrade Pollitt becoming General Secretary of our Party: a mischievous invocation of the sectarian excesses that had accompanied Pollitt's accession to the leadership at the height of the sectarian 'Class Against Class' period. Discreetly Pearce was called in by the party's London district secretary, John Mahon, and reminded that, true or false, tales that might assist the party's enemies were best left untold. Bound like others by his sense of party discipline, Pearce's researches for the time being remained unpublished.16
For Pearce, as for so many others, 1956 was the year in which discipline, like the assumption of infallibility in which it was rooted, was shattered. In February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev's speech to the closed session of the CPSU's twentieth congress provided the first official confirmation of the crimes committed under Stalin. Towards the end of the same year, the Red Army's suppression of revolt in Hungary dashed hopes of a fundamental break with the past. For many British communists, newly undeceived or now admitting their misgivings, the momentous jolt out of complacency prompted an urge to get to grips with this troubled inheritance. If Stalin's was a reign at once of terror and ineptitude, they reasoned, what then of the British communists who had identified with his vaunted achievements, even to the point of accepting their policy directives from Moscow? In that sense, as Hobsbawm later put it, "the crucial question of Stalin was literally one of history... [and] the suppression of Soviet history could not be divorced from the question of why other parts of contemporary history had not been confronted—not least such hotly disputed episodes in the history of the British CP as the 'Third Period' and 1939-41."17 It was appropriate therefore that communist historians were, along with the Party's journalists, foremost among those demanding a complete break with Stalinism. Eventually this would take many of them out of the party altogether; but, in its parting shot as a united body, the Historians' Group pressed the party leadership for a genuine CPGB history. The commission that resulted, meeting for the first time towards the end of 1956, marked the beginning both of the writing of the Party's own history and of the collection of materials relating to that history.
The enterprise was hardly carried out at a Bolshevik tempo. Some communist leaders, like the commission's first chairman, Harry Pollitt, remained frankly opposed to any party history prior to its attainment of power ("and even then there are problems," added Pollitt – an apparently cynical reference to the rehabilitation of Bela Kun and consequent withdrawal from circulation of Hungary's official party history). Others like Palme Dutt were more sympathetic to the historians' demands, but held that sensitive episodes, like the communists' opposition to the war during the period of the Nazi-Soviet pact (1939-41), were for the time being best left alone. Here, the reservation was expressed that "documents would have to be used that would cause great diplomatic repercussions": a clear reference to the party's Moscow connections.18 Already in 1956, material was being collected for a history of the party that was to have been written by R. Page Arnot. That these reservations were eventually overcome was due to two reasons. One was the example set by the Parti communiste français in commencing work on its own history, albeit under the close jurisdiction of party officials. The second was the growing prospect of "definite enemies" publishing their own distorted histories "to slur and slander the role of the Party." Among the latter were Henry Pelling, whose single-volume party history was announced in 1957, and Brian Pearce, who pseudonymously contributed the New reasoned pamphlets published by party rebels (and historians), John Saville and E.P. Thompson.19 James Klugmann, a Cambridge-educated lecturer and functionary, therefore proposed an official party history to put these matters right. "It seems impossible for our Party to abdicate on this, leaving the presentation of its history in the hands of the enemies of our Party," noted Klugmann. "Besides," he added, almost as an afterthought, "there is nothing to be ashamed of... On the contrary." Coming from the author of the abysmal From Trotsky to Tito, these seem somewhat complacent sentiments. That Klugmann was to be appointed the party's official historian did not portend a particularly full or critical reckoning.20
Klugmann's work bore no immediate fruit. Nevertheless, the appointment of an official historian did provide a focus for the accumulation of archival materials. A library had been established at the party's King Street headquarters as early as 1951, but it was the establishment of the history commission that encouraged what would now be called a more 'proactive' collecting policy. A collection of leaflets, pamphlets and periodicals had already been assembled by the party's librarian, retired building worker Frank Jackson. To these were now added scarce archival items, such as early branch minute books from Sheffield, as well as various short memoirs produced specifically for the commission. Substantial quantities of material piled up at Klugmann's London home as he persevered with his thankless commission. With his death in 1977, and the need to accommodate Klugmann's working collections, the party took steps to make specific provision for its archives when it moved to new headquarters in St John Street, near Smithfield, in 1980.
By this time the study of British communism was well advanced, if generally starved of archival nourishment. Klugmann's own volumes on the CP's formative years, published in 1968-9, drew on no sensitive materials and touched on no sensitive questions. Despite having rejected the idea of a collectively produced history, CPSU-style, Klugmann's task was very much that of producing self-censored drafts for further bowdlerisation by party elders. He ought, Hobsbawm has commented, to have refused it.21 Nor did Klugmann, or the party itself, welcome the attentions of outside scholars. "Dozens and dozens of histories of Parties are being written by people antagonistic to Marxism or by young people under their influence," Klugmann wrote in the 1960s. "In Britain you can expect 'theses' in the next few years on the NUWM, Minority Movement, League Against Imperialism, Party, YCL, etc., etc., etc."22 In fact, writers like Lesley MacFarlane, a former CPGB member, and the sociologist Kenneth Newton, were critical in the best sense and not at all 'antagonistic'. Nevertheless, they were treated warily by King Street, and Newton, for example, found that party branches had been warned against dealing with him.23 For internal documentation of the communist-sponsored Minority Movement, Roderick Martin relied heavily on papers preserved by Jack Tanner, as he might have done on an East European defector.24 On the whole, however, defectors at leadership level had figured remarkably little in any except the very earliest period of the CPGB's history. While officially sanctioned memoirs gave away few secrets, neither the literature of disillusionment nor archival deposits of similar provenance were anything like as abundant as in the French or American case.25 As late as 1971, the old taboos could be strongly reasserted in response to an indiscreet revelation of Dutt's. "The Political Committee considers it undesirable that statements on ... important events in the history of our Party should be made by individuals," Dutt was warned. "... [A]ny matters concerning Party history must be the subject of consultation."26
If the party's history nevertheless began to flourish, this was because a younger generation of historians, many of them communists, were less concerned with rummaging in King Street's murky cupboards than with retrieving the social movements and grassroots mobilisations that they identified with communism. Key influences were Gramscianism and the new social history, and with their imaginative use of a wide range of sources, notably oral history, these younger historians put no great stress on institutional archives and even warned against a fixation on such materials.27 Nevertheless, some of these materials also found their way into the Party archives, both before and after their transfer to Manchester. With the relaxation of conditions of access in the Party's very final years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the archives were for the most part now accessible to historians subject only to a formidable cataloguing backlog. With a view to facilitating their further use, the decision was then made in 1992 to deposit the archives in Manchester and ESRC funding was secured to sort the archives and provide a usable inventory. Ownership and responsibility for the archives was vested in the Archive Trust of the Communist Party of Great Britain (1920-1991), to which issues of access or reproduction are referred by the People's History Museum.
The value of the archives would not be universally accepted. Judged by conventional electoral criteria the CPGB was always something of an irrelevance and many of its political concerns can seem esoteric. Some have suggested that British historians should therefore be looking at other movements, and communist historians at other countries. "Of course none of it mattered," A.J.P. Taylor commented in 1966, "Supporting the unions, attacking the unions, trying to join the Labour Party, attacking the Labour Party, United Front, Class against Class—all were phases of no consequence. The story has to be told for its own sake, providing fresh demonstrations of perverse and inexhaustible ingenuity."28 That may indeed be a fair comment on the tireless mapping out of the 'party line', particularly since this became possible in so much more detail than was ever previously possible. Nevertheless, historians have been drawn to the archives by much more than just the 'bizarre fascination' which Taylor conceded. Partly this is down to the old cliché that the CPGB's influence was disproportionate to its size, and that its more successful initiatives – from the hunger marches and Left Book Club, to the industrial coalitions of the 1970s – did actually count for something. But the CPGB archive also provides a distinctive perspective, both on the often troubled course of twentieth-century British history and on international communism as one of the century's defining movements. Not just for political historians, but for those with interests in cultural history, industrial relations, social movements, memory studies – for historians with the widest spread of interests there is material of interest in the CPGB archives. In the years since their deposit in Manchester they have become an increasingly well-used and widely cited resource. With still greater possibilities of access, this trend is only likely to continue.
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Central Party records (CP/CENT)
The singular nature of the CPGB's relationship with the Communist International means that the organisational holdings of the archives in Britain are of a highly asymmetrical character. Discrete groups of documents from the inter-war years, some of considerable historical significance, appear to have been retained by individuals and deposited in the library/archive at a later date. Other materials relating to official party bodies have at some point been abstracted from personal deposits, notably the extensive papers of R. Palme Dutt, whose annotations can be found on documents scattered throughout the archives. With these exceptions, the central records of the Party itself date primarily from the mid-to-late 1940s. In particular, they can be connected with the overhaul of party organisation in 1943, and it is from this point that key classes of documents, like those of the Executive Committee and Organisation Department, can be followed more or less continuously.
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Executive Committee and predecessors (CP/CENT/EC)
The Central Committee (sometimes Central Executive Committee) took shape over the 1920s as the leading elected committee of the CPGB, usually meeting monthly. According to the party rules adopted in 1943, it was renamed the Executive Committee (EC) and exercised "full responsibility for the direction and control of the Party's work" including control of the party press, publications and other enterprises. Formally, it was the national party congress, as the "supreme authority of the Party", that laid down the "general lines" which the EC was obliged to follow. In practice, executive control over congress procedures, including its own re-election, lent substance to the view that it constituted an essentially self-perpetuating leadership. Its composition was explicitly affected by issues of representativeness: key industries, professions and party districts were all meant to be represented, and regard was also paid to the representation of women and 'young comrades'. Politically, on the other hand, the EC expressed and upheld a monolithic conception of party unity. Indeed, by the strengthening of the party rules in 1952 it was further established that it should "guide and direct the work of all Party organisations" and apply disciplinary measures to any such organisation failing "to carry out Party decisions."
A complete run of EC minutes exists for the period 1943 to 1991. These, designedly, can be as laconic and unrevealing as any conspirator could have wished. Contributions of individuals and the character of discussions are rarely noted and even key decisions are often recorded elliptically. Perhaps in part for this very reason, leading communists frequently made their own notes at these meetings and where these are available they can be found alongside the relevant minutes. Very often these are exceptionally revealing and provide the sorts of information that the formal minutes were designed to conceal. Such issues are not peculiar to communist parties. Rather like the diaries of Labour cabinet ministers, they are often essential to the filling out of a sometimes less than informative formal record.
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Political Committee and predecessors (CP/CENT/PC)
Historians and political scientists have commented on the seemingly inexorable centralisation of effective power within communist parties. Formally, the EC, under the 1943 rules, was merely to "elect such Officers and Committees as it may consider necessary to ensure the most efficient organisation and carrying through of the Party's work." Though technically accountable to the EC, committees like the Industrial Committee and its officers could come to enjoy a wider discretion in day-to-day affairs. More significantly, a 'political committee' was elected which had no formal status in the party rules. Again the origins of such a body can be traced back to the 1920s, when the Political Bureau, initially sharing responsibilities with an organisational bureau, emerged as a de facto party leadership through the CPGB's inability to maintain a full-time executive. Through control of the 'panel' of nominees to the executive itself, it was the Political Committee that in practice functioned as the main directive body within the party, usually meeting at least weekly.29 There are important survivals from 1924-5 and again from the late 1940s, but comprehensive coverage dates from 1952.
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National congresses (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 on party congresses, like those of its leading committees, can again provide a useful source of supplementary information, although the more open character of these events and their occasional nature meant that it was often feasible and acceptable to provide full stenographic reports. Along with a mass of related documentation, there are full reports of all congresses from the 20th (1948) to the 28th (1963). For all earlier congresses, beginning with the First Unity Convention in 1920, printed materials are variously supplemented by circulated reports and congress materials, delegates' and observers' notes and press cuttings. There are also full proceedings for the CP's 15th and last pre-war congress, held as a symbolic protest in Chamberlain's home city of Birmingham in September 1938. From 1973, proceedings were tape-recorded and the tapes, along with other sound materials formerly in the CPGB archives, are now deposited with the National Sound Archive. Stenograms of earlier congresses will be found in the Moscow archives. In between the more turbulent affairs of the 1920s and the 1980s, one could have wished that party congresses had been less meticulously choreographed. There were, however, moments of tension, as in 1945, 1956-7 and increasingly from 1968 as party unity ebbed. For the values, the rituals, the language and the political culture of British communism, as well as insights into a wide spread of party activities, the congress materials provide an important source.
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General Secretaries (CP/CENT/SEC)
Following the example of Stalin in the USSR, the general secretary emerged as the key official of the CPGB and other communist parties. In the case of Harry Pollitt, CPGB general secretary from 1929-39 and 1941-56, this figure was not only described as party 'leader', as if corresponding to the same position in more conventional parties, but was subject to a fitful and sometimes rather embarrassing cult of personality. As the direct oversight of the Comintern became somewhat attenuated from the late 1930s, appreciable powers of patronage and advancement within the party also fell to the general secretary. The study of these developments is of interest, not only to comparative historians of communism, but to students of party institutions more generally.
Personal papers survive both of Pollitt and his successors, notably John Gollan, general secretary from 1956-77. Their official correspondence as general secretaries is also revealing; for example, it can provide a vivid insight into the eddies of communist opinion, particularly at times of crisis such as 1956-7 and virtually the whole of the 1980s, by which time Gollan's fellow Scot Gordon McLennan had replaced him in this position. The concentration of party leaders in King Street meant that they were rarely forced to correspond, unless for the specific purpose of putting their views on record. Discussions of the party secretariat, or of the tight knot of functionaries who effectively directed policy, are thus rarely documented. Conversely, individuals, branches and even districts away from the centre often had no choice but to resort to more durable forms of communication. Paradoxically, the institutional holdings of this highly centralised organisation sometimes reveal more about responses further down the party's ranks than they do about its elite-level discussions.
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Speakers' notes and party circulars (CP/CENT/SPN, CP/CENT/CIRC, CP/CENT/STAT, CP/CENT/ED)
In the task of guiding the party and ensuring consistency of policy at all levels, the central executive committee in the 1920s began the circulation of speakers' notes, not just as a source of information of the Fact for Socialists type but as a way of directing party policy as expressed from the platform. Speakers' notes in the CPGB archives include extensive examples from the inter-war years and a more comprehensive coverage from the later war years to the early 1970s, when the practice appears to have been discontinued. Coverage of press and policy statements issued by the party follows a similar pattern but continues into the final years of the party. Education materials and study guides include those issued by the CPGB itself, through its Central Education Department, as well as the Educational Commentary on Current Affairs issued by the Marx Memorial Library and Daily worker between 1942 and 1956. The aspiration to provide a nationally co-ordinated lead on key issues of current politics is nowhere better conveyed than by this plethora of documentation.
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International Department and the Comintern (CP/CENT/INT, CP/CENT/CI)
Records of the CPGB's International Department or otherwise relating to its international functions are of particular interest given the unique significance such associations had for a communist party. The miscellaneous files collected in CP/CENT/CI give a flavour of the CPGB's subordinate status as a section of the Communist International until its dissolution in 1943. These include materials collected by students at Moscow's International Lenin School, which between 1926 and the mid-1930s welcomed some 160 British communists to take courses of up to three years.30
Even after the Comintern's formal dissolution, there was no doubting either the significance of communism as an international movement, the critical position that Britain held in its conception of world affairs or the close interrelationship between them. Apart from the brief interlude of the Anglo-Soviet wartime alliance, Britain was more or less consistently depicted as a bulwark of world reaction, hostile to socialism, partial to fascism, beholden to American imperialism and an oppressor of its own colonies. The CPGB thus had a responsibility to link up with and itself promote anti-colonial struggles, a responsibility which critics alleged involved the party itself striking imperial postures in its relationships with colonial communists. Evidence both for this and for a more generous reading of colonial solidarity can be found in the archives. Pre-eminent in the earlier period was the party's interest in India, exemplified by R. Palme Dutt's position both as an authority on the sub-continent's affairs and as a contact with leading Indian nationalists. Of Dutt's reportedly extensive correspondence with Jawaharlal Nehru, nothing survives in the archive. Likewise there is little relating to the League Against Imperialism, an international front organisation based in London from 1933, and interested researchers will have to consult either the relevant Moscow archives or the papers of the league's secretary, Reginald Bridgeman, at the University of Hull. The archive does, however, contain two priceless individual deposits, namely those of Ben Bradley and Glyn Evans (qq.v.).31
Even after its independence, with Nehru now premier, India remained a central concern. Key sections of the Indian communist party resisted moderating their opposition to Nehru to conform to Moscow's anti-American priorities. The CPGB, it appears, was called upon to try to straighten them out. These efforts are well documented, but again in personal deposits: both in Dutt's files on his interventions of 1950-1 and Pollitt's papers from his Indian tour of 1953-4. In the same period, the party's wider co-ordinating role was most visibly demonstrated by the conferences of Empire communist parties that it organized in London in 1947 and 1954. The International Department's records include numerous files on such international gatherings as well as an impressive documentation of the party's relations with individual fraternal parties. Among the department's other functions was the development of promising contacts in Britain, particularly among colonial students. These provided a valuable source of possible cadres in countries previously lacking strong indigenous communist movements. Again, however, tensions could arise from a perception of the British party's 'colonialist' attitudes, and these are well attested in the files on West African students.32 One area in which the British party could not be accused of colonialist arrogance was in its relations with the socialist bloc countries. Nor, however, was the CPGB's position wholly an obeisant one, particularly as the fragmentation of world communism gradually permitted a greater degree of autonomy to its smaller sections. At the time of the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s, for example, British communist leaders had discussions with both the Soviet and Chinese parties, and a fairly full documentation survives. There are also useful materials relating to the later phenomenon of Eurocommunism.
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Industrial Department (CP/CENT/IND, CP/MISC/ETU)
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 went back to the Party's syndicalist origins and were vigorously revived during the years of the Marshall Plan, when an extensive communist industrial presence was mobilised against the dominant western conception of industrial recovery. Though CPGB membership was by this time declining, such anxieties probably reached their peak with the industrial conflict of the 1960s and 1970s, as members and former members of an earlier vintage reached the pinnacle of their trade union careers. If Harold Wilson seemed to see a "tightly knit group of politically motivated men" behind disputes like the seamen's strike of the 1966, which at least confirmed the continuing industrial significance of the party. For those set on exposing or celebrating such machinations, the archives will be found to contain only fragmentary information. For the National Minority Movement of the 1920s, there is a file in the papers of its then general secretary Harry Pollitt, but little from the same period on the industrial activities of the party itself. Nor, in this particular case, is the coverage as extensive as it might be in the post-war period. Doubtless the communists' networking and caucusing in the unions were sometimes more informal than opponents believed. Nevertheless, it is clear that they had also learnt the necessity of discretion in the compiling of written records of discussions of any sensitivity. Bert Ramelson, the CPGB's national industrial organiser from the mid-1960s, was at the heart of these discussions. Famously, he boasted on one occasion that he had only to "float an idea early in the year and it will be official Labour Party policy by the autumn."33 Again in Ramelson's own deposit of papers, the Needs of the Hour instructions that he circulated to communist delegates before TUC and other trade union conferences may be examined to test the validity of that claim. There is also much that is relevant in the papers of Wal Hannington, whose activities in the Amalgamated Engineering Union included several years as a national organiser in the 1940s. Again, the papers of George Matthews include files relating to the CPGB's industrial policies in the 1950s, and the archive also has transcripts of the ETU ballot-rigging trial (CP/MISC/ETU).34 Though the Industrial Department files contain materials of interest for the party's final years, in general the record of its very considerable industrial presence needs to be traced through the papers of other key activists, officers and committees.
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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.35 One is not required to share the author's alarmist premises to accept that the communists' cultural and intellectual influence, in particular periods and particular disciplines, was enormous. Doubtless, communist intellectuals must often have shared the historian E. P. Thompson's impatience with 'Emilism': the bureaucratic interference that Thompson associated with the party's leading cultural functionary, Emile Burns.36 Indeed, it is suggestive of the intellectuals' high defection rate and less exclusive commitment to the party that the archive contains none of the papers of those, like Thompson or the scientists Haldane or Bernal, who achieved a major intellectual standing outside the party's ranks. Nevertheless, there are major holdings for 'party' intellectuals like R. Palme Dutt and Ivor Montagu. And there are also the files of the National Cultural Committee, set up in 1947 with a view at once to policing and to nurturing the flow of Marxist ideas. These do rather give the view from King Street, and from Burns's office as the committee's secretary. Nevertheless, they also testify to the range of intellectual endeavours undertaken by the party. Fragmentary survivals include papers of the Sigerist Society, Engels Society (biology) and the psychology and architects' groups, while rather fuller documentation exists for the artists' group and there is a full run of the music group's Music and Life. Unquestionably the most distinguished of these bodies was the Historians' Group, which, at a formative period of their lives, brought together luminaries like Edward Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill and John Saville, and thus came to exercise a profound influence on English historical scholarship. Happily there survive fairly extensive records for the group, dating from its heyday in the 1950s to its later, less influential activities as the CPGB History Group. With the records of the Historians' Group one should perhaps add the papers of Dona Torr (q.v.), whom many of its younger figures regarded as the doyenne of British Marxist historians (see below CP/IND/TORR).
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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 members and supporters. Memorably, an early party pamphlet had exhorted its intended readers to Wake up, Mrs Worker! which doubtless betrays a somewhat restricted view of the topic. Nevertheless, in the context of the period the CPGB's record on women's issues was by no means contemptible. In the early years communists were usually hostile to anything smacking of 'bourgeois feminism' or a separate women's agenda.37 During the popular front and war years, however, such attitudes were modified; and, as it reflected and often anticipated wider social changes, the CPGB's conception of women's politics was increasingly a fluid and contested one. These developments are well documented in the sequence of Women's Department files dating from about 1950. There are also papers of Marian Ramelson relating to the Conference of Women of Asia, held in Beijing in 1949, and her later history of the women's suffrage movement. Of particular interest is the impact of the women's liberation movement in unsettling as well as energising the party in the 1970s. The magazine Red Rag, published without a King Street licence, reached beyond communist circles on a socialist-feminist platform, but at the same time antagonised some of the older activists entrenched in its Women's Department. The official women's journal Link did, however, come to embrace some of these concerns and records communist inputs into campaigns over abortion law, employment rights and the whole gamut of feminist politics. Though little in comparison survives for an earlier generation of women's activists, the important unpublished biography of Helen Crawfurd can be found at CP/IND/MISC.
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Youth Committee (CP/CENT/YOUTH)
Though with possibly diminishing plausibility as the decades passed, the CPGB always addressed itself to Britain's youth, claimed not infrequently to speak in its aim, and devoted considerable energy to youth campaigns as a source of recruitment and party renewal. Although the Young Communist League (q.v.) existed as a technically autonomous vehicle for these activities, a Youth Affairs or Advisory committee was also established to provide oversight of such activities from the 1940s. An extensive documentation survives, particularly for the period from the 1940s to the late 1960s, when the CPGB's appeal to the 'revolutionary youth' was being overshadowed by a plethora of groups and parties emerging to its left. As well as materials of the committee, these files contain exceptionally rich survivals of pamphlets, circulars and ephemera relating to youth and children's activities and deriving from the inter-war years. There is also much material relating to international connections including youth festivals in or delegations to socialist-bloc countries and documentation from the 1980s relating to the World Federation of Democratic Youth.
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Economic Committee (CP/CENT/ECON)
Because of the CPGB's presence in the trade union movement, the party's understanding of current economic issues was of considerable strategic importance for the party. This was to be vigorously demonstrated in the 1970s, when the Economic Committee became the forum for fierce debates between industrial activists and functionaries committed to wage militancy, and younger academic economists seeking to look beyond the short-term pursuit of money wages.38 Though overt conflict was not a feature of the Committee's deliberations when first established in the 1940s, the link between its perspectives and the policies of communists in industry was clearly recognised from the beginning, and may be traced here in files dating from the 1940s to the 1980s.
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Organisation Department (CP/CENT/ORG)
From its inception in 1943, the records of the CPGB's national Organisation Department provide an especially revealing perspective on the Party's inner workings. Among its responsibilities were the maintenance of membership and cadre records, internal discipline and liaison with the districts, for all of which an extensive documentation was preserved. Materials of a highly personal, sometimes libellous nature have been excluded from the copying project. Notably this excludes the short party autobiographies to which only restricted access is available on grounds of privacy and data protection. Abundant materials nevertheless survive relating to deviations of a more public or political character. These include files on outbreaks of internal unrest involving 'rotten elements' like the novelist Edward Upward and the future Labour MP Eric Heffer, and the oversight extended by the CPGB to other left-wing groups, which most certainly did not accept its right to maintain such records. The Party's interest in Trotskyism was particularly assiduous in the war years, when members were exhorted to Clear out Hitler's agents for advancing policies not dissimilar to the CPGB's own a year or two earlier.39 Along with detailed reports on Trotskyist and ILP activities are copies of internal minutes and documents, particularly of the Workers' International League, which may not be accessible elsewhere. In 1943 the party also started to compile record sheets on prominent leftists, a handful of which survive. This unhealthy obsession led on occasion to actual violence against Trotskyist paper-sellers. Even so, in the post-war years, the same struggle was generally confined to what were described as 'political methods', culminating in the formation of an almost cerebral 'Trotskyism Study Group' in the 1970s. The Organisation Department files also provide an important source for activities at district level. Just as national party records had at one time been sent to higher bodies in Moscow, copies of district minutes and reports in the early post-war decades were sent to the national organiser who, if conscientious enough, filed them with relevant correspondence and supporting papers.
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Miscellaneous central subject and committee files (CP/CENT/SUBJ, CP/CENT/EVTS, CP/CENT/COMM, CP/CENT/CTTE)
Records for various ad hoc sub-committees or departments of the EC notably including the Parliamentary Department (see CP/CENT/CTTE/01/01) which, in the late 1940s, oversaw the activities of the CPGB's two MPs, Willie Gallacher and Phil Piratin. There are also important records of the West Indies Committee; of the National Jewish Committee, notably used by Jason Heppell in his doctoral research;40 of the Science and Technology Sub-Committee (STSC); and of a range of social or industrial advisory committees. Also established on an ad hoc basis were party commissions like the ones that oversaw the several redraftings of the British Road to Socialism, the CPGB programme whose first version in 1951 famously enjoyed the personal input of Stalin himself. There are also materials relating to the Commission for Inner-Party Democracy, which in the late 1970s addressed questions that had already been dealt with unsatisfactorily in the crisis year of 1956-7; and to the CPGB History Commission, which, as noted elsewhere, was another by-product of the political fallout from the 1956 Khrushchev speech.
The central subject files comprise materials generated by ad hoc committees or of unclear provenance at the time that the archives were catalogued. The CPGB library and archive was not, it should be remembered, arranged according to conventional archival principles; nor were records kept of the provenance of particular groups of documents. Instead, a subject index was compiled, and items of diverse provenance were added to subject files already created. There are extensive materials relating to Labour-communist relations and in particular the CPGB's unsuccessful campaigns for affiliation to the Labour Party in 1943 and 1946. Other materials relate to the anti-fascist activities which again have given rise to a good deal of historical interest.41 From a later period there are also files relating to the Christian-Marxist dialogue, initiated in the 1960s in the aftermath of destalinisation and Vatican II; and to the Gay Liberation movement of the 1980s, when the CPGB's commitment to a 'broad democratic alliance' began to combine with the embracing of identity politics.
The CP/CENT/EVTS sequence mainly relates to one-off events organised in the same period, including the 'Marx with Sparx' day festival for the Marx centenary in 1983; the Left Unlimited conference organised by Marxism Today in 1986; and the CPGB and Moscow conference organised in the party's very last months in 1991.
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Young Communist League (CP/CENT/YCL)
Communist women, in contrast to their Labour Party counterparts, were often resistant to the idea of separate women's groups. Younger adherents, on the other hand, had what was technically a fully autonomous vehicle for their aspirations in the shape of the Young Communist League (YCL). Traditionally the YCL was considered, if at all, merely as a disciplined detachment of the adult movement. Recently, however, Mike Waite has used the League to illuminate the intergenerational tensions to which communism was as prone as any other movement.42 Waite's own working materials, including questionnaire responses, can be found in the archives at CP/HIST. But there are also extensive YCL files dating mainly from the mid-1930s, including minutes, congress proceedings and vast amounts of printed propaganda. The YCL was always as much a cultural and social organisation as a political movement and, alongside materials from local branches and broader youth campaigns, there are files relating to cultural and sporting activities. An ironical sidelight on generational changes is the existence both of files from the 1930s on the ILP Guild of Youth, inside which communists were then busily disruptive, and of disciplinary files from the 1960s recording the infiltration of the YCL itself by Trotskyists. Though records of the YCL survive into the 1980s, by this time it was a shadow of its former self.
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The People's Press Printing Society and Daily Worker/Morning Star (CP/CENT/PUB, CP/PPPS)
The CPGB was nothing if not a massive publishing enterprise. Overshadowed by the Labour Party when it came to votes or members, the communists in many periods maintained a more vigorous or publishing activity, whether directly or through such bodies as the Left Book Club. CP/CENT/PUB contains materials relating to a range of other publishing activities, including materials relating to the monthly Marxism Today through which the party's modernising wing enjoyed a considerable succès d'estime under the editorship of Martin Jacques in the 1980s. By this time, the communist newspaper, the Morning star, was falling out of the Party's control as a result of factional conflicts between the modernising (or 'Eurocommunist') wing associated with Marxism Today, and the traditionalist or 'hard-line' elements sometimes referred to as 'tankies'. Established as the Daily worker on 1 January 1930, the paper had been transferred to the ownership of the People's Press Printing Society in the 1940s, when the CPGB's division into warring factions could hardly even have been imagined. Other important materials relating to the paper can be found in the personal deposits of Allen Hutt and Ernie Pountney.
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Local Party records (CP/LOC, including CP/LOC/HD, CP/LOC/LEW, CP/LOC/MISC, CP/LOC/NW, CP/LOC/SCOT, CP/LOC/SMID, CP/LOC/YORK)
The CPGB in 1943 was at almost the high point of its organisation, with an ambitious district structure typically including a number of paid officials and at least one party bookshop. With the major exception of the London district, the archive's local holdings are nevertheless not very extensive. Important materials can be found in CP/CENT/ORG, but the centralisation of the party was not reflected in the systematic collection of such records. Indeed, in June 1979, as thoughts turned again to the more systematic preservation of party records in the aftermath of James Klugmann's death, the advice given district party organisations was to send copies of congress reports, bulletins, election addresses and leaflets to the Marx Memorial Library, possessing as it did "all the facilities of a well-run library". The representation of local records is certainly greater than in the case of other political parties, but comprehensive research will also require the use of other archives, notably the Welsh Political Archive of the National Library of Wales and the Gallacher Memorial Library at Glasgow Caledonian University.
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Miscellaneous non-Party organisations (CP/ORG/MISC & CP/CENT/PEA)
From virtually the year of its foundation, the CPGB sought to promote its objects through a variety of 'front' and ancillary organisations. Some were sections or affiliates of international movements, like the British section of the Red International of Labour Unions, later the National Minority Movement. Others were more specific to Britain, like the National Unemployed Workers' Committee Movement, founded in 1921, and dropping the 'committee' from its title at its sixth conference in 1929. In either case, communist control or direction was meant to be ensured by organised fraction work. Communists in particular would take on the crucial and often unalluring role of secretary, while non-communist supporters were usually employed in a more public or honorific capacity. Even in what were by no means 'front' organizations it was very often communists who were readiest to take on such onerous and usually unremunerated positions. It is easy for those familiar with the party's formal organisational precepts to overstate the degree of its control over its members' activities. Certainly, as the decades wore on, if party activists took on leading positions in broader organisations, it was often simply because it was a part of their identity as communists that they should do so. The deposit of an organisation's records in the CPGB archives does not therefore have to imply 'control' by the CPGB, though it does certainly demonstrate the key organisational role played by communist officers.
One result of this is that important collections relating to broader movements and organisations are often to be found in the papers of the individual communists who animated them. Notably these include the important materials relating to the NUWM in the Wal Hannington papers, while Ivor Montagu's papers provide insights into a wide range of movements over several decades, notably including the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR, from its foundation in the 1920s to the 1980s. There are also papers relating to the British Workers' Sports Federation deposited by its secretary, George Sinfield.43
Other files relating to non-party organisations appear to have been deposited by individuals who cannot now be identified or to have been separated from their personal papers. Among the organisations and movements covered are the People's Convention; a CPGB-sponsored vehicle for campaigns against the wartime coalition and for a 'people's government' in 1941-2; the British Youth Peace Assembly, a broad youth campaign again set up at the instigation of communists in the late 1930s; the Left Book Club, including some local materials; Artists for Peace, an initiative postdating the break-up of the Artists International Association in 1953; the Paul Robeson Petition Campaign of the 1950s; the CPGB publishers, Lawrence & Wishart; Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, one of support groups set up during the miners' strike of 1984-5. Papers of the Welfare League of India should be read alongside the personal deposit of Glyn Evans's papers, while there is also a minute book of the Openshaw branch of the British Socialist Party, partly in Harry Pollitt's hand.
The commitment to a form of peace politics is one that crops up again and again, and the most substantial of these holdings is that for the British Peace Committee, active from 1949 as an affiliate of the World Peace Council. Catalogued as CP/CENT/PEA, this sequence also includes materials relating to a variety of local peace campaigns, often sponsored or even dominated by communists but rarely promoted under the CPGB's own official auspices.
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Individual deposits (CP/IND)
Individual deposits within the CPGB archives are significant both for the biographies of the individuals concerned and as a record of the wider activities of the party and its ancillaries. The dividing line between these materials and the party's institutional records is indeed extremely blurred. Even in the post-war decades, the CPGB's greater attention to archival matters could never have extended to a systematic records management policy for its several departments, sub-national divisions and ancillary organisations. Some areas, of course, are poorly documented, or must be followed up elsewhere. But important survivals for many key bodies were either derived from personal deposits, or else remain within them, and are essential to the richness and integrity of the archive as a whole.
The range of leading figures covered by the personal deposits is impressive but not exhaustive. Of the party's founding generation of leaders, figures like MacManus, Bell and Inkpin, who died before the new interest in preserving its history after 1956, appear to have left no significant documentation of the organisation's formative years. Instead, it is figures whose longevity extended into and beyond this period – Pollitt, Dutt and Gallacher being notable examples – whose papers provide some of the most important materials in the archive, particularly for historians interested in this earlier period. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, it seems that most leading communists who deposited their papers put them in the party archives. This was especially true of figures who died after the party history was inaugurated after 1956, and before the factional disputes of the 1980s. With the split between 'loyalists' and 'hard-liners', however, an important figure like Andrew Rothstein left his papers to the Marx Memorial Library, which was loosely aligned with the latter. Apparently for reasons of long association with the library, communists like the historian and research worker, Noreen Branson, and the sometime MP for Stepney Mile End, Phil Piratin, also left papers to the Marx Library; while for similar reasons important personal holdings can also be found in the Working Class Movement Library in Salford and in the Gallacher Memorial Library in Glasgow. Nevertheless, the party archives contain by far the most important collection of personal papers relating to British communism.
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Kay Beauchamp (CP/IND/KAYB)
Kay Beauchamp (1899-1992) came from a traditional Anglican-Conservative background, but was preceded by a sister Joan Beauchamp (1890-1964) who played an important role in the anti-conscription movement and became a foundation member of the CPGB. Kay herself joined the party in 1924 and was one of the original staff members on the Daily Worker in 1930 before briefly attending the Lenin School. Her first husband was the book dealer Graham Pollard, who left an important collection of documents relating to the St Pancras CPGB, in which both were involved in the 1920s. These are now held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Beauchamp's own papers relate primarily to her later activities. Over several decades, she maintained her commitment to local campaigning activities, first in Finsbury, where she was briefly a communist councillor, then in Hackney. With her second husband Tony Gilbert, she was perhaps more prominently identified with the anti-colonial and anti-racist movements, and was active as a foundation member of the Movement for Colonial Freedom (later Liberation). Dating mainly from the 1970s, her papers provide an important complement to the MCF's own archives, deposited in the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.
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Ben Bradley (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 Trial five years later.44 This provoked an enormous outcry, and in Britain, according to Stephen Howe, "probably inspired more left-wing pamphlet literature than any other colonial issue between the wars".45 Bradley's papers are an indispensable source for the episode and include extensive prison correspondence, documents from the Meerut trial and records of the international campaigns of solidarity with the defendants. They also contain his notes for a projected autobiography and materials relating to his later political activities. For several years Bradley continued to be involved in anti-colonial activities and between 1934 and 1940 served as secretary of the League Against Imperialism and its successor, the CPGB's Colonial Information Bureau. He also spent periods as the Daily Worker's circulation manager and, briefly before his death, as national organiser of the Britain-China Friendship Association. His papers bear witness to the genuine internationalism that was one of the outstanding qualities of many communist activists.
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Rajani Palme Dutt (CP/IND/DUTT)
The papers of R. Palme Dutt (1896-1974), theoretician, thesis draughtsman and unfailing guardian of the 'international line', are one of the most important deposits.46 Dutt had many critics, who alleged that he was concerned less with collective endeavour and effectiveness than with ensuring that his own views were recorded, for future vindication if not always immediate enactment. There is an interesting parallel in this regard with criticisms sometimes made of Tony Benn by Labour Party colleagues, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Benn's and Dutt's are among the best documented careers in their respective parties. Already, before the opening of the CPGB archives, there were made accessible in the British Library some thirty-odd bulky volumes of Dutt's draft theses, articles and correspondence. To these should be added not just the twenty-five boxes catalogued as Dutt's papers, but many of the files on party congresses and leading committees which are in fact Dutt's own. For the formal party line, Dutt's papers are a major source; and for the years 1924-36, when Dutt lived in Brussels but served from afar on the CPGB's central committee, they provide a particularly full record of his necessarily written interventions. Dutt had a formidable intellect, whether or not he always employed it wisely, and was also prepared to propound his beliefs in wider intellectual milieux. There is consequently an illustrious correspondence, sometimes grimly revelatory of his Stalinist mentality, that takes in literary, cultural and political figures like Max Eastman, Bertrand Russell, Harold Laski and Augustus John. There is also much that attests to Dutt's active anti-colonialism, as well as the beginnings of an autobiography and materials relating to his wife, Salme. More sensitive documents relating to Dutt's early manoeuvrings with Salme and Harry Pollitt were entrusted to Pollitt's official biographer, John Mahon, and are now available in the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.47
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Hymie Fagan (CP/IND/FAG)
Born in 1903, Hymie Fagan was an East London communist recruit of the mid-1920s who attended the Lenin School in Moscow before taking on a variety of journalistic responsibilities within and around the CPGB. His papers include a fascinating unpublished autobiography providing a relatively rare inside glimpse of the Lenin School as well as a vivid depiction of the Jewish East End and its clothing industry. The manuscript also includes an interesting account of the history of the Peasant's Revolt which Fagan published for the Left Book Club in 1938, England Arise. Other files relate to Fagan's activities as the CPGB's national election agent in 1945, when the party reached its apogee of two MPs, and the study of nationalisation that he published in 1960.
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William Gallacher (CP/IND/GALL)
The archive has extensive papers of William Gallacher (1883-1965), described by Andrew Thorpe as "one of the most significant public figures the party ever produced" and second only to Pollitt in this respect.48 The basis for such a claim is clear: already a well-known figure in his native Scotland, between 1935 and 1950 Gallacher served as the CPGB's longest-serving MP for the constituency of West Fife. The profile this gave him within the party led, amongst other things, to several volumes of autobiography, the first of which, Revolt on the Clyde (1936), has been seen as a prototype of the genre internationally.49 Gallacher's papers include files relating both to his parliamentary work and to his later spell as party chairman between 1950 and 1956. He also preserved copies of his poetic efforts, whose appearance in print is explicable only by reference to his personal standing, and a series of detective stories which not even this was sufficient to see into print. In one of his books of memoirs Gallacher described how, as a matter of revolutionary vigilance, he had acquired the habit of destroying all notes of meetings he attended, even those sent him by Lenin himself.50 For this earlier period of Gallacher activities in the party's inner leadership, which date from the CPGB's foundation, there is consequently little trace in his papers, though an important, unguarded memoir survives in the papers of the CPGB history commission (q.v.).
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John Gollan (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 (1911-77) was to retain the position for some two decades – almost as long as Pollitt himself. If Gollan never made the same impression on the wider world – some communists even muttered about a 'cult of impersonality' – the high regard in which he was held by party loyalists is attested by the biographical research carried out in the last years of her life by Margot Kettle (q.v.). Long before he became party secretary, Gollan had occupied a number of key positions both in the party apparatus and at the Daily Worker. Born in Edinburgh in 1911, he had also played an important role in the 1930s youth movement, as secretary of the Young Communist League. Among the activities documented are his imprisonment for anti-militarist activities in 1931; the apprentices' strikes of 1937; and his involvement in a broader youth movement, including the preparation of an unpublished book on conscription and military service.
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Wal Hannington (CP/IND/HANN)
Wal Hannington (1896-1966) was a London-born toolmaker and foundation member of the CPGB who became synonymous with the inter-war movement of unemployed workers. For unexplained reasons, Hannington's personal collection relating to the NUWM became divided between the CPGB archives and the Marx Memorial Library.51 With the NUWM's suspension of activities during the Second World War, Hannington made his way back into the engineering industry and in 1941 was elected one of the three national organisers of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU). He lost the position at the height of the Cold War, in December 1950, but three years later was elected the AEU's assistant divisional organiser for north London and retained the position until his retirement in 1961. His papers contain an extensive documentation of his activities within the AEU, including his proposals for the reorganisation of the union and the controversy over his book, The Rights of Engineers (1944). They also document his resentment against those within the party apparatus and its engineering networks who several times in the 1950s vetoed his candidacies for more senior union positions, and whom he accused of "walking over the face of honoured foundation members of the Party".52 One of the outstanding militants of his generation, Hannington left two books of memoirs but still awaits the biographical treatment he deserves.53
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George Allen Hutt (CP/IND/HUTT)
Allen Hutt (1901-73) was a Cambridge-educated communist who joined the CPGB in 1922 having previously been national secretary of the communist-dominated University Socialist Federation. Through a paternal lineage of master printers, Hutt took pride in a family involvement in the publishing industry dating from the seventeenth century. Translating this into a left-wing context, Hutt worked variously for the Daily herald, whose staff he joined in 1923, the communist Workers' weekly; the Soviet news agency TASS; Palme Dutt's Labour monthly; and Trade Union Unity, a short-lived venture of TUC 'lefts' like A. A. Purcell. His trade union contacts were reflected in his first book Communism and Coal (1928), a collaboration with Arthur Horner, and his voluminous correspondence with the Fife miners' leader David Proudfoot.54 After a spell at the International Lenin School and two years as chief sub-editor at the newly launched Daily Worker (1930–32), Hutt produced a series of books on British working-class politics, the best of them, The condition of the working class in Britain (1933), revealing a flair for the investigative side of journalism as well as its technical aspects. It was nevertheless to the latter that Hutt owed a reputation that extended well beyond the left. In 1936 he joined the co-operative-owned Reynolds news with a special brief for the paper's redesign and six years later rejoined the Daily Worker following its temporary wartime ban. These were halcyon days for British communists, whose optimism for the post-war world was focused on the 'new' Daily Worker that would match the best that Fleet Street had to offer. Hutt as chief sub-editor made perhaps the outstanding contribution to such a goal, and earned the respect both of his colleagues and of his profession. These activities are well documented in Hutt's papers, which include an important personal correspondence going back to the 1920s. For a quarter of a century Hutt also sat on the executive of the National Union of Journalists, edited its monthly paper and in 1967 was made its president. He remained with the Daily worker until his retirement in 1966: the year in which, to his dismay and contempt, the paper changed its name to the Morning star.
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Margot Kettle papers (CP/IND/KETT)
Margot Kettle (née Gale) was never in the first or even second rank of CPGB activists, though she did play an important role during the war years as an undercover communist in the students' movement. In the course of these activities, she established a wide range of contacts in the youth and student movement, and it was on these that she drew for two major unpublished research projects towards the end of her life. The first, undertaken in the 1980s, was her Recollections of a younger world aimed at recovering the memory of the anti-fascist generation of the 1930s. As well as her manuscript and correspondence with publishers and others, the papers include Kettle's transcripts of interviews with contemporaries in the youth movement. Though Kettle was unsuccessful in finding a publisher, she then turned her attention to John Gollan, the subsequent CPGB general secretary who in the 1930s was one of the leading figures in the youth movement. Again working drafts and correspondence can be found alongside interview transcripts, and provide an insight into the older generation of the 1980s as well as its halcyon days some decades earlier.
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James Klugmann (CP/IND/KLUG)
A student communist recruit of the early 1930s, James Klugmann was to attract more controversy than almost any of his party comrades. Partly this was attributable to his alleged involvement in spy-related activities in 1930s' Cambridge; partly to his wartime role in SOE in Yugoslavia, where he is said to have favoured Tito's cause – as indeed he might have been expected to. More certainly, Klugmann did, as noted elsewhere, write the terrible tract, From Trotsky to Tito, which has often been taken as a token of how far British communists were prepared to take their Stalinist commitments. Though his work as a party historian won few admirers beyond the party's own ranks, reform-minded communists of the 1960s and 1970s did remember him as a sympathetic figure, both through his role in the party education department and as editor of Marxism today. Sundry papers and educational materials give a glimpse of these activities. For those unable to use the Moscow archives, Klugmann's notes also provide a useful indication of some of the more important materials for the so-called 'Class against Class' period.55 Which materials he thought to include, and which to exclude, would provide an interesting insight into the mentality of the official party historian, but not surprisingly has yet to find a historian with the time and opportunity to carry out the necessary comparison.
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George Matthews papers (CP/IND/MATH)
George Matthews was the son of a Bedfordshire farmer who joined the CPGB, initially as an undercover activist in the Labour Party and the University Labour Federation, around 1938. After coming out as an open communist in 1940, Matthews's party career made rapid progress, and he joined the CPGB's Executive Committee in 1943, remaining a member until 1979. From 1950-7 he was the party's assistant secretary, and then editor of the Daily Worker / Morning star (1957-74) and head of press and publicity (1974-9). In the estimation of some of his colleagues, he would have made an obvious and competent secretary of the Party – but according to Harry Pollitt himself was ruled out on grounds of his middle-class, farming background. After retiring from his other party responsibilities, Matthews continued to work part-time in the library and played a significant role in the discussions which led to the archives being made publicly accessible in Manchester. Perhaps for this reason, his are among the notes and papers that can be found scattered in other files and classes through the archives. Though Matthews was regarded as one of the CPGB's experts on agriculture, his papers cover the broader range of political and industrial activities that he encountered in the course of his responsibilities. There is little, however, of a personal character.
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Ivor Montagu (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 experiment with a free congress vote for the body in the mid-1940s. Nevertheless, Montagu was a significant journalist and publicist of communist causes, whose less intensive involvement in party activities allowed him scope for an extraordinary range of interests. A naturalist by training; he was also variously a film critic, film director and (with Alfred Hitchcock) producer; a sportsman and pioneering proselytiser for table tennis; the Daily Worker's correspondent in post-war Germany and at the Nuremberg trials; the author of books on Mongolia, Eisenstein and the Berufsverbote, as well as of the briefly controversial Traitor Class published in 1940; and president of Southampton FC Supporters' Club, as well as a lifelong member of the Fabian Society. With the exception of Montagu's film-related materials, which were deposited in the British Film Institute, all of these interests are represented in Montagu's papers. Particularly noteworthy is an extensive correspondence ranging from Ilya Ehrenburg and the playwright Sean O'Casey – the latter regarding Hitchcock's version of Juno and the Paycock – to Ellen Wilkinson and Solly Zuckerman. Sadly, two files contain only photocopies: one containing correspondence with Bernard Shaw, and the other concerning Trotsky's application to come to Britain in 1929. The irony of Montagu's involvement in this episode was noted, with a delicate regard for his anonymity, by Isaac Deutscher in his Trotsky biography.
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John Thomas and Molly Murphy (CP/IND/MURP)
One of the most important of the CPGB's founding leaders, J.T. Murphy took on a number of key party responsibilities over the course of the 1920s. As CPGB representative in Moscow between 1926 and 1928, he took on a key supporting role in a wider history as the man who moved Trotsky's expulsion from the Executive Committee of the Comintern in September 1927. Though remaining a loyal follower of Stalin, whose hagiography he later published, Murphy in 1932 provided a rare case of a high-level expulsion from the CPGB over a seemingly recondite issue. In other countries, where the forced or voluntary exclusion of leading party figures was rather more frequent, their papers and reminiscences provided a fruitful source for historians. Murphy too published an interesting though not sensationalist volume of autobiography.56 However, his papers did not become accessible until after the demise of the CPGB, when they were located in the possession of his family by Murphy's biographer Ralph Darlington.57 Though Murphy's early activities are more fully documented in Moscow than in Britain, the papers provide insight into his views after breaking with the party and include draft letters to the deposed American communist leader Earl Browder. The deposit also includes material relating to Murphy's wife, Molly Murphy, who served as a nurse in the Spanish Civil War. Her autobiography, partly scripted by her husband, has since been published under the editorship of Ralph Darlington.
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Harry Pollitt (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 after the manner of Stalin himself combined oversight of the party apparatus with the projection of exemplary leadership qualities. Though Pollitt took some time to establish his authority, by the mid-1930s he functioned as de facto party 'leader' and a sort of tribune of the anti-fascist left. How telling it was that when his tenure was interrupted in 1939 on account of his resistance to the Comintern's anti-war line, no other party figure attempted to combine these functions. Pollitt was therefore able to resume his old responsibilities with the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, and continued to exercise them until the immediate aftermath of the Khrushchev speech in 1956.
His personal papers include extensive materials collected by his devoted disciple John Mahon, whose official biography of Pollitt was published in 1976. It is not always possible to identify which of the materials were kept by Pollitt and which were assembled by Mahon. Nevertheless, the coverage goes back to Pollitt's early years before the formation of the CPGB, including documents and recollections collected by Mahon and Pollitt's own personal memorabilia. Coverage of the inter-war years is uneven, but includes substantial correspondence with Dutt from the 'Class Against Class' period, in which together they contrived Pollitt's accession to the party leadership. There is also an important documentation of disputes over the war and party policy during the Nazi-Soviet pact. Voluminous drafts and speech notes begin in the late 1930s, and Pollitt's visits to a number of countries in the post-war period are carefully if not always revealingly recorded. There are also draft chapters and correspondence providing insight into the production of his autobiography Serving My Time.58 Pollitt's sixty or so trips to the USSR are not so fully documented, and for the crisis point of 1956 one must consult the files of general secretary's correspondence (CP/CENT/SEC).
As if to underline the vulnerability of the archives, two letters to Pollitt have been cut precisely where they seem to promise revelation: about early party wranglings and Moscow during the purges respectively. Given the sensitivity of these questions – and, on the CPGB history commission, Pollitt was particularly cagey about the first of them – it is easy to see why Pollitt might have wielded the scissors.59 Any archive is as much as anything defined by its absences; it is rare, however, that these are so clearly indicated.
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Bert Ramelson (CP/IND/RAM)
Of Russian birth, Canadian-Jewish upbringing, a legal training, and principal work experience as a trainee manager for Marks & Spencer, Bert Ramelson seems an unlikely figure to have headed the CPGB's famous industrial machinery. Nevertheless, by the time he arrived in Britain having fought against fascism in the International Brigades, Ramelson was a dedicated communist of unusual capability. After wartime experiences including an active involvement in the forces' parliaments, he was sent to Yorkshire as a full-time party worker and eventually Yorkshire district secretary. It was in this capacity that he was confronted with the crisis year of 1956, and notably the unofficial paper The Reasoner published by the Yorkshire-based historians and party rebels, John Saville and Edward Thompson. Subsequently Ramelson succeeded Peter Kerrigan as the CPGB's industrial organiser and it was here that he attained legendary status as industrial strategist or wirepuller, depending on one's political perspective. The Ramelson papers deposited in the CPGB archives include personal and miscellaneous correspondence, mainly from the 1980s and with much relating to the internal party strife so characteristic of the decade. There are also EC and Yorkshire district papers dating from the 1950s onwards.
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Claude Tayler (CP/IND/TAY)
In some cases, like the Tom Mann materials in the papers of Dona Torr, the provenance of materials in the archives not directly relating to the CPGB is relatively clear. Other materials must have found their way into the party library by a route and at a date that is now obscure. Claude Tayler is certainly such a case. A Lincolnshire Labour Party organiser in the 1920s and a Congregationalist minister, from the evidence of his papers we know that Tayler had also spent time in the USA and had some involvement with Republican Clubs in New York and the Ohio People's Party. There is also some indication of his interest in R.J. Campbell's New Theology. But at first sight there is nothing in his papers to explain how they found their way into the archives of the CPGB; and for fuller details of Tayler's life, one imagines it will require the expertise of a specialist in something other than communist history.
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Dona Torr (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 in 1936, while Mann was still alive, only a first volume of the full biography had been published by the time of Torr's death in 1957.60 Nevertheless, Torr was a mentor generously acknowledged by some younger communist historians, E.P. Thompson in particular; though others – Eric Hobsawm being one – thought her work more of propagandist than of historical value. Torr's study of Mann would certainly have been massively documented, and doubtless would have met its object of underlining Mann's crucial legitimising role in linking the CPGB to Britain's indigenous socialist revival of the 1880s. Torr's working papers include many original items of Mann's, whose correspondents included contemporary labour and socialist figures like Keir Hardie, H.M. and Hyndman and Peter Kropotkin. There is also a memoir by Harry Pollitt, described as remarkable by Mann's biographer Joseph White, as well as Torr's own extensive historical correspondence.61
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William Wainwright (CP/IND/WAIN)
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 secretary of the British Soviet Society and a heavy involvement in peace-related activities in the 1950s. Wainwright's papers, of a somewhat miscellaneous nature, include significant materials relating to the CPGB's science and technology committee, mostly from the period 1959-75 when Wainwright was a member of the party executive. Extending into the 1980s, the papers also contain materials relating to Wainwright's dismissal as the Morning Star's science correspondent at the height of the party's factional troubles in 1984-5.
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Jack Woddis papers (CP/IND/WOD)
Having joined the CPGB in Hendon in 1937, and worked as a full-time worker in the party's London district, Jack Woddis was another of those communists whose activities became channelled into internationalist and anti-colonialist commitments. According to Stephen Howe Woddis was the first open communist (in 1961) on the central council of the Movement for Colonial Freedom; and from 1965 until his death in 1980 he was also a member of the CPGB's executive and political committees, as head of the party's international department. His papers mostly relate to these activities, including draft and published articles published both under his own name and under a variety of pseudonyms. The papers also include his lectures at the African Trade Union School and African Workers' University in 1962 and the manuscript of a book on African trade unionism dating from the mid-1960s.
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Miscellaneous individuals (CP/IND/MISC)
A wide range of smaller though not necessarily less significant deposits are grouped as CP/IND/MISC. Among them is an impressive collection of unpublished memoirs. These include materials of interest to historians of trade union activism, for example those of the London railway union activist, Jock Nicholson, and of one of the CPGB's large cadre force within the engineering industry, Bill McElroy. Mick Jenkins, another of the autobiographers, became a CPGB district secretary in the East Midlands; but perhaps the most interesting chapters of his autobiography describe the making of a young Jewish communist in his native Manchester. For historians of Jewish communism, there is a further important source in the shape of David Goldinger's autobiography, available in his original Yiddish as well as English.62 This recounts Goldinger's Lithuanian childhood and his service in the Tsar's armies, as well as his later involvement in the Jewish Workers' Circle and tailoring unions. There is also an unpublished biography of Helen Crawfurd, the Clydeside suffragist and ILPer who joined the CPGB on its formation, played a leading role in Workers' International Relief and was a member of the CPGB's Central Committee until her marginalisation in 1929. Idris Cox, one of the most important Welsh communists of the inter-war years, has left a shorter autobiography. For many years Cox was the CPGB's Welsh district organiser, and subsequently he worked at King Street as secretary of the International Department. E.R. Pountney, technically the proprietor of the Daily Worker, left several files of documents relating to the paper as well as another of the autobiographies.
Perhaps the best-known of these mostly unpublished authors was the communist autodidact Tommy Jackson: party maverick, author of works on Dialectics and Charles Dickens, and famously in need of a wash, a comb and a coat hanger. Readers of Jackson's wonderful early memoirs, Solo trumpet, will discover that its unpublished sequel, Interim Report, shows many of the constraints and evasions that historical writing about the CPGB itself usually involved. There are also typescripts of the published memoirs of D.N. Pritt, the Labour MP expelled from the Labour Party for his pro-Soviet stance in 1940 and subsequently re-elected against official Labour opposition in 1945. Though Pritt never formally joined the CPGB, the memoirs were published in 1965-6 by the 'party' publishers Lawrence & Wishart, which gives an accurate enough picture of his political allegiances. However, Pritt's memoirs are, by and large, not very revealing and show little of the communists' supposed penchant for self-criticism. Other papers of Pritt's are held by the British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics.
Other groups of papers relate to particular political or intellectual interests of their depositors. Marian Ramelson, wife of Bert Ramelson (q.v.), was a pre-war Yorkshire district organiser of the CPGB, having previously attended the Lenin School. Her papers in the archive relate to her activities in the women's movement (including a notebook and diary as delegate to the Conference of Women of Asia in December 1949) and the historical researches on the women's suffrage movement, on which she was to draw for her book, Petticoat Rebellion. The papers of Glyn Evans include a precious documentation relating to the Workers' Welfare League of India. Correspondence deposited by Brian Pearce and Christopher (Kit) Meredith provides a vivid insight into the opinions and expectations of younger CPGB members around the end of the Second World War.
Another deposit from an older socialist tradition is the small collection relating to John Lincoln Mahon, a steadfast follower of H.M. Hyndman and father of his namesake, the communists' future London organiser. The papers mainly date from after Hyndman's break with the internationalist majority of the British Socialist Party (BSP) in 1916 and document Mahon's involvement with the unfortunately named National Socialist Party and 'Kill Bolshevism' fund. Other non-communist figures represented in the archive include the dockers' leader and Liberal Minister, John Burns, for whom there is a single, rather miscellaneous file; and papers of C.K. Cullen, later a CPGB member, relating to his activities as an ILP activist and councillor in Poplar, East London. Another Poplar councillor, William Sell, was a police striker in 1919; and there are also papers relating to the case of ex-Inspector of Police, John Syme, a leader of the National Union of Police and Prison Officers, collected by the Labour MP and Scottish miners' leader, Robert Smillie. Other individuals represented in the CP/IND/MISC materials including the longstanding member of the CPGB executive and political committees, Peter Kerrigan; the sometime secretary of the London Trades Council, Julius Jacobs; and Jack Cohen, a leading activist in the YCL and CPGB in the 1920s and later a lifelong party worker.
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CPGB history materials (CP/HIST)
Already by the 1960s, James Klugmann was warning of the stream of students beginning to take an interest in the CPGB's history. At the same time the party itself seemed an organisation increasingly defined by its past. The catalogues of the 'party' publishers Lawrence & Wishart were one sign of this. So was the increasing profile of the archives themselves. The flurry of interest in communist history in the 1970s was not for the most part maintained into the following decade. On the other hand, with the final years of the party and access to the archives, historical interest revived and has not as yet run its course. One result of this was the enrichment of the archives by a number of miscellaneous deposits by historians of the party or activists interested in its past. These include theses, draft papers, transcripts of oral history interviews and autobiographical materials.
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1. This introduction draws in part on my article, 'The archives of the British communist party: a historical overview', Twentieth century British history, 7, 3 (1996), pp. 404-21. I am grateful to the editors and publishers for permission to draw on this material.
2. H. Pelling, The British Communist Party: a historical profile (London, 1975 edn), p. 191.
3. For thesis reports and book reviews, the best source is probably the Communist History Network newsletter, edited from Manchester between 1996 and 2008. At the beginning of 2009, the newsletter is to make way for a journal of more international coverage, Twentieth century Communism: a journal of communist history.
4. National Archives (NA) KV2/1040, 15 June 1943. For accounts drawing on the Moscow archives, see A. Thorpe, The British Communist Party and Moscow, 1920-43 (Manchester, 2000); K. Morgan, Labour Legends and Russian Gold: Bolshevism and the British left, part 1 (London, 2006).
5. See the letter from Bob Stewart, the representative in question, to Albert Inkpin, 1 October 1923, RGASPI (Russian State Archive of Social and Political History) 495/100/99/25
6. Inkpin to ECCI (Executive Committee of Comintern) 22 November 1922, RGASPI 495/100/69/35-6.
7. J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Vol. 2. The General Strike, 1925-1926 (London, 1969), pp. 67-8
8. No doubt thanks to increasing vigilance, from 1924 financial matters were dealt with on separate sheets of paper so that they could be kept apart from 'less sensitive' records; see Inkpin to Stewart, 18 February 1924, RGASPI 495/100/173/18-9
9. 'Documents selected from those obtained on the arrest of the Communist leaders on the 14th and 21st October 1925', Parliamentary Papers, xxiii (1926).
10. Information from Sam Russell. The memo is reproduced in J. Attfield and S. Williams, 1939 : the Communist Party and the War (London, 1984), pp. 160-8.
11. CPGB 22nd Congress, Resolutions and proceedings (London, 1952), p. 7; The British road to Socialism (CPGB programme, London, 1952 ed.), p. 19.
12. T. Bell, The British Communist Party: a short history (London, 1937); draft review of same by A. Hutt, 27 April 1937 in LHASC CP/IND/DUTT/19/3. The review was published as 'How not to write Communist History, Labour monthly, 19 (1937), pp. 382-6.
13. R.P. Arnot, Twenty years: the policy of the Communist Party of Great Britain from its foundation (London, 1940), p. 2.
14. CPGB, Eighteenth party congress, Resolutions and agenda (London, 1945), pp. 51 and 58.
15. E. Hobsbawm, 'The Historians' Group of the Communist Party' in M. Cornforth (ed.), Rebels and their causes (London, 1978), p. 29.
16. Personal information, Brian Pearce.
17. Hobsbawm, 'Historians' Group', p. 41.
18. Pearce, personal information; E. Hobsbawm, 'Afterword' in G. Andrews, N. Fishman and K. Morgan (eds.), Opening the books: essays in the social and cultural history of the British Communist Party (London, 1995), p. 251; Klugmann's notes for CPGB Political Committee subcommittee, 22 January 1957, LHASC CP/IND/KLUG/2/6.
19. Reprinted as B. Pearce, 'The Communist Party and the Labour left, 1925-1929' in M. Woodhouse and B. Pearce, Essays on the history of Communism in Britain (London, 1975). The same volume brings together a number of Pearce's subsequent writings on the CPGB for Trotskyist publications.
20. Klugmann, 'History of the British Communist Party', 30 December 1957, LHASC CP/IND/KLUG/2/6.
21. Hobsbawm, 'Afterword', p. 251; see also Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain: formation and early years, 1919-1924 (London, 1967); Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, vol. 2.
22. LHASC CP/IND/KLUG/2/7, Klugmann to Bill Alexander, 11 February 1926 (sic: 1966?).
23. See the correspondence in LHASC CP/CENT/ORG/2/6; also L.J. Macfarlane, The British Communist Party: its origin and development until 1929 (London, 1966); K. Newton, The sociology of British Communism (London, 1969).
24. R. Martin, Communism and the British trade unions, 1924-1933 (Oxford, 1969).
25. See however D.A. Hyde, I believed: the autobiography of a former British communist (London, 1951); M. McCarthy, Generation in revolt (London, 1953).
26. Correspondence between Dutt and CPGB Political Committee, April-May 1971, LHASC CP/IND/DUTT/8/9.
27. For a discussion, see Kevin Morgan, 'Labour with knobs on. The recent historiography of the British Communist Party', Mitteilungsblatt des Instituts für soziale Bewegungen, 27 (2002), pp. 69-84. Representative examples of this work can be found in G. Andrews, N. Fishman and K. Morgan, Opening the books: essays in the social and cultural history of the British Communist Party (London, 1995).
28. The Observer, 27 March 1966.
29. See George Thomson, 'Preparation of the panel for the new Executive Cttee', n.d., CP/IND/MISC/22/13.
30. See G. Cohen and K. Morgan, 'Stalin's sausage machine: British students at the International \Lenin School 1926-37', Twentieth century British history, 13 (2004), 327-55.
31. J. Jones, Ben Bradley (London, 1994); also Jones, entry on Bradley in J. Bellamy and J. Saville (eds.), Dictionary of Labour biography, vol. X (Basingstoke, 2000).
32. See H. Adi, 'West Africans and the Communist Party in the 1950s' in G. Andrews et al., Opening the books (vide supra).
33. Cited F. Beckett, Enemy within (London, 1995), p. 174.
34. See C.H. Rolph, All those in favour? (London, 1962).
35. J. Gould, The attack on higher education (London, 1975).
36. For these and other themes, see A. Croft (ed.), A weapon in the struggle: the cultural history of the Communist Party of Great Britain (London, 1998); J. Callaghan, Cold War, crisis and conflict: the CPGB 1951-68 (London, 2003).
37. The standard work on this period is S. Bruley, Leninism, Stalinism and the women's movement in Britain (New York, 1986). For a discussion extending to the post-war decades, see K. Morgan, G. Cohen and A. Flinn, Communists in British society, 1920-1991 (London, 2006), ch. 4.
38. G. Andrews, Endgames and new times: the final years of British communism (London, 2004), 127-9.
39. W. Wainwright, Clear out Hitler's agents (London, 1942).
40. See for example J. Heppell, 'A rebel not a rabbi: Jewish membership of the CPGB', Twentieth century British history, 15, 2004, 28-50.
41. See for example N. Barrett, 'Organised responses to fascist mobilisation in South Lancashire, 1932-40', University of Manchester PhD, 1996.
42. M. Waite, 'Young people and formal political activity, a case study: young people and Communist politics in Britain 1920-1991' (Lancaster, M Phil, 1992).
43. S.G. Jones, Sport, politics and the working class: organised labour and sport in interwar Britain (Manchester, 1988), ch. 4.
44. See the entry on Bradley by Jean Jones in J. Bellamy and J. Saville, eds., Dictionary of Labour biography, vol. X (Basingstoke, 2000), 22-7.
45. S. Howe, Anticolonialism in British Politics: the left and the end of empire, 1918-1964 (Oxford, 1993), p. 65.
46. The main study is J. Callaghan, Rajani Palme Dutt: a study in British Stalinism (London, 1993).
47. These materials are used in K. Morgan, Harry Pollitt (Manchester, 1993), ch. 2. The official biographer, who did not make use of them, as was perhaps the understanding on which he received them, was J. Mahon, Harry Pollitt (London, 1976).
A. Thorpe, 'Communist MP: Willie Gallacher and British Communism' in K. Morgan, G. Cohen and A. Flinn, eds., Agents of the Revolution: new biographical approaches to the history of the international communism in the age of Lenin and Stalin (Oxford, 2005), 133-58.
49. For a discussion, see K. Morgan, 'Ainsi pour Gallacher? Quelques regards sur la construction de la vie communiste modèle en Grande Bretagne', Communisme, 87 (2006), 29-46.
50. W. Gallacher, Last memoirs (London, 1966), pp. 150-1.
51. See R. Croucher, We refuse to starve in silence: a history of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement, 1920-46 (London, 1987).
53. See W. Hannington, Unemployed struggles, 1919-1936 (London, 1936); Hannington, Never on our knees (1967). For a brief overview, see the entry by K. Morgan in J. Bellamy and J. Saville, eds., Dictionary of Labour biography, vol. X (Basingstoke, 2000), 73-8.
54. See I. MacDougall, ed., Militant miners: recollections of John McArthur, Buckhaven, and letters, 1924–26, of David Proudfoot, Methil, to G. Allen Hutt, (1981).
55. They are used in N. Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1951 (London, 1985); and more extensively in M. Worley, Class against class: the Communist Party in Britain between the wars (London, 2002).
56. J.T. Murphy, New horizons (London, 1941).
57. R. Darlington, The political trajectory of J.T. Murphy (Liverpool, 1998).
58. For this see for example K. Morgan, 'Harry Pollitt, Maurice Thorez and the writing of exemplary communist lives' in J. Gottlieb and R. Toye (eds.), Making reputations: power, persuasion and the individual in British politics (London, 2005), 56-69.
59. Letters from J.T. Murphy and J.R. Campbell in CP/IND/POLL/3/13.
60. D. Torr, Tom Mann and his times. Vol. 1: 1856-1890 (London, 1956).
61. J. White, Tom Mann (Manchester, 1991), 217.
62. H. Fagan, Nine days that shook England: an account of the English people's uprising in 1381 (London, 1938).
To cite this resource:
Morgan, Kevin (2008) The archives of the Communist Party of Great Britain : an introduction to the online and microfilm editions, http://www.communistpartyarchive.org.uk/9781851171354.php. Last updated: 15 January 2009.
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