Archive of the Irish in Britain

Scope and Content

The Archive of the Irish in Britain consists of materials donated in a number of different media over the last twenty years.

Founded in 1984, this unique collection of documents, audio and video recordings, books, photographs and ephemera catalogues the history of the Irish in Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The Archive is regularly consulted by researchers, students, academics and journalists from Britain, Ireland and further afield.

The Irish Studies Centre at the Polytechnic of North London (a predecessor institution to London Metropolitan University) acquired the Archive in 1989 and expanded the collections in the wake of subsequent funding, exhibitions and other outreacher initiatives.

The collection consists of the following series:

  • Community Collections - This is the largest and most extensive part of the Archive. It is divided into three broad categories of culture, politics and welfare. Within these categories, there are numerous sub-categories, some related to specific issues and some related to specific community groups. The collections are in the main made up of 'grey literature' i.e. reports, newsletters, publicity leaflets and other forms of documentation produced by Irish community organisations in Britain from 1945 to the present day.
  • Articles Collections - Articles written about the Irish in Britain over the last 150 years from academic journals, newspapers and other sources. Priority for inclusion is given to articles not readily available in current periodicals.
  • Student Works Collection Student projects, dissertations and these on all aspects of the Irish experience in Britain. Whilst most of the work in this collection is of undergraduate level, much of it covers topics unresearched or under-researched elsewhere.
  • Book Collection - Books by and about the Irish in Britain houses in Special Collections Reading Room. Some titles can be searched using our Library Catalogue. They can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.
  • Photographs - These are from a variety of photographers, disseminated throughout the collection, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.
  • Audio Collection - A collection of oral history interviews, lectures given to the Irish in Britain History Group in 1980s, radio programmes about the Irish in Britain and recordings of the Irish Studies Centre Public Lecture Series.
  • Video Collection - Video recordings of television programmes and films made about the Irish in Britain over the last forty years, including material donated to the Archive by the Activision Irish Video Project.
  • Poster Collection - Posters publicising a variety of political, cultural and social events related to the Irish in Britain from the 1970s to the 21st century.
  • Ephemera Collection - A small collection which includes Irish step dance medals, tee-shirts, sporting shields, rosettes, sashes and banners.
  • Rare Book Collection - Histories, autobiographies and fictional accounts of the Irish in Britain dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

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