Movement for Colonial Freedom Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises minutes, correspondence, subject files, reports, pamphlets and printed ephemera of 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). The material in this collection primarily relates to the period between 1954-1970 when the organisation was known as the Movement for Colonial Freedom but includes a small amount of material relating to the period after 1970 under the name Liberation.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF) was founded in 1954. 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 Labour MP Fenner Brockway was the organisation's first Chairman. The MCF was run from a succession of offices in central London including 318 Regents Park Road, 374 Grays Inn Road, and 313-315 Caledonian Road.

Funds were provided through affiliations and membership, cultural events and appeals totalling approximately £2000-3000 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 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 closely 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.

The 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.

In 1970 the Movement for Colonial Freedom was renamed as 'Liberation'.

Arrangement

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

Open

Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan in 1984.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Copyright held by Liberation

Related Material

SOAS Library also holds the papers of Liberation [Ref: LIB] - the successor organisation of the MCF. These papers include Central Council and Executive Committee papers, Area Council papers, finance papers, correspondence, subject files, and printed publications. The Liberation collection primarily relates to the period 1973-1992 but includes a small amount of material relating to the period before the organisation became Liberation in 1970.

SOAS Library also holds copies of the 'Liberation' Journal, incomplete run [Ref: Per 50L / 655 730]. SOAS Library also holds a number of MCF publications (1968), deposited as part of the Southern African Materials Project [Ref: MS 380210].

SOAS Library holds the papers of Thomas Fox-Pitt [PP MS 6], Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, which contains a series of papers relating to the Movement for Colonial Freedom.

A further small collection of MCF papers, comprising miscellaneous minutes, statements, annual conference papers and reports (1961-1965), are held at the London School of Economics Library, Archives Division [Ref: MISC 0557].

The papers of Fenner Brockway (Chair of the MCF) are held at the Churchill Archives Centre, University of Cambridge [Ref: FEBR]. These papers comprise manuscripts of books, articles, speeches, diaries, correspondence, book reviews and press cuttings for the period 1914-1982. These papers include some material deposited via SOAS in 1985.

The papers of J. Murumbi - an early member of MCF are held at the Kenyan National Archives.