Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises minutes, correspondence, subject files, reports, pamphlets and printed ephemera of Liberation (incorporating The Movement for Colonial Freedom), and also of some of its Area Councils, affiliated organisations and associated bodies such as the Committee for Peace in Nigeria (1954-1970).

Administrative / Biographical History

Liberation was founded in 1954 as the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF), under the leadership of Archibald Fenner Brockway. Its aim was to campaign in Britain for the freedom of colonial subjects from political and economic domination, and to unify the activities of smaller organisations that were concerned with these issues. It was an amalgamation of the British Branch of the Congress Against Imperialism, the Central Africa Committee, the Kenya Committee and the Seretse Khama Defence Committee. The organisation operated from a succession of offices in central London including 318 Regents Park Road, then at 374 Grays Inn Road, and 313-315 Caledonian Road.

Funds were provided through affiliations and membership, cultural events and appeals totalling approximately 2-3,000 per annum. This allowed for a staff of two or three, the publication of a bi-monthly journal, information sheets and campaign material, and the holding of private and public meetings. It had an individual membership of around 1000, and regional, national and international affiliates, which brought the total number involved to about 3 million. Affiliated organisations included trades unions, constituency Labour parties, trades councils, co-operative societies, peace societies and student organisations.

The MCF was largely associated with the left-wing of the Labour Party and other radical groups. It established Area Councils in different parts of Britain. Standing Committees were established for every sphere of the world where colonial and neo-colonialist issues were dominant, including the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South East Asia, East Africa, Rhodesia, South Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. The MCF also established a Standing Committee to address racial discrimination in Britain, and a Trade Union Committee to assist trades unions in developing countries. Each Standing Committee was chaired by an MP, and met at the House of Commons. The MCF was sponsored by up to 100 MPs. The Committees were composed of MPs and experts on the different territories, whose role it was to stimulate questions and debates in Parliament, and recommend activities to the Council of the MCF, which was representative of all the nationally affiliated organisations and Area Councils.

The general trend of the MCF's activities falls into two distinct stages. Up to the mid-1960s, the organisation focused on the issues of political independence, particularly in Africa. After this period concern centred on the international struggle for economic self-determination.

MCF helped to bring into being a large number of political pressure groups and charities including the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Chile Solidarity Campaign Committee, the Committee for Peace in Vietnam, War on Want and the World Development Movement.

The Movement for Colonial Freedom was renamed Liberation in 1970.


The material has been split into two sections: the Movement for Colonial Freedom, and the Committee for Peace in Nigeria. Within the MCF, the collection has been arranged in the following sections: Executive Committee; Central Council; Secretary's reports; committees; finance; area councils; affiliates; Annual Delegate Conference; general correspondence; countries; activities; office management; publications, and miscellaneous.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan in 1984

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Separated Material

Associated Material held elsewhere: Papers of J. Murumbi (an early member of the MCF) are held at the Kenyan National Archives. Papers of Archibald Fenner Brockway held at Churchill Archives centre, Cambridge University [ref. Guide 1992 FEBR]

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Liberation, 37 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0EF.


Accruals expected

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: Movement for Colonial Freedom publications (part of the Southern African Materials Project) [ref. MS 380210]; Diane Noakes. [PP MS 56].