Papers of the Spartacist League

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection centres on materials relating to the activity of the Trotskyist International Spartacist Tendency in Britain. The collection covers 3 periods:

1964-1975: The Spartacist Tendency had no permanent organised presence in Britain during this period. However the publications of the Spartacist League/US Spartacist and Workers Vanguard contain many articles referring to the general political situation in Britain, and to British socialist parties and groups. In particular Spartacist contains much material in the 1960s on the Healy tendency (Socialist Labour League), and Workers Vanguard has extensive coverage of the 1974 miners' conflict with the Heath government.

1975-1978: The London Spartacist Group (LSG) was active during this period. From 1975 Workers Vanguard has been distributed widely on the British left, both through subscriptions and single-issue sales. In this period the LSGs activity is reported and reflected in that paper, and also in various mimeographed leaflets included in the deposit.

March 1978 to the present: At the beginning of this period the Spartacist League/Britain (SL/B) was founded in a fusion between the LSG and the Trotskyist Faction (TF) of the Workers Socialist League. The TF had been formed as an internal faction in 1977, and resigned from the WSL in February 1978. In April the first issue of Spartacist Britain, the monthly paper of the SL/B, was published (in September 1984 the name was changed to Workers Hammer). In 1980 the Leninist Faction of the WSL fused with the SL/B, and in 1981 the Communist Faction of the IMG did likewise. Materials relating to these two groups are included in the deposit, in addition to the newspapers, journals and leaflets of the Spartacist Leagues itself.

The collection comprises: Spartacist Britain/ Workers Hammer, issues 1-165, April 1978-August 1991; Workers Vanguard, Spartacist Publishing Company, New York, issues 33-408, 1976-1986; miscellaneous publications and leaflets, 1964-1983.

Administrative / Biographical History

Spartacist League: originally formed as the "Revolutionary Tendency" of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Spartacist League was formed in 1964 when they were expelled from the SWP for not supporting the Cuban revolution, as well as opposing the SWP's part in the "revisionist" United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI). Led by James Robertson, the SL was named after Rosa Luxemburg's Spartakusbund (the precursor to the German Communist Party). The SL's international wing, the International Spartacist Tendency (now known as the International Communist League), was formed in 1974. The Spartacist League suffered two large splits: the first being the formation of the International Bolshevik Tendency in 1985 and in 1996 a group formed by the expelled SL newspaper editor, Jan Norden (known as the Internationalist Group).

Reference: Red Groups (  Accessed June 2002.


The collection is arranged in the following series: Spartacist Britain/ Workers Hammer, Workers Vanguardand miscellaneous.

The Modern Records Centre uses a classification scheme. For further details of the scheme, see It is compatible with ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description (2000).

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to these papers.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in the Centre in 1986.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this collection-level description is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom. A file level catalogue is also available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives in London and in Chadwyck-Healey's National Inventory of Documentary Sources.

An authority record exists for the Spartacist League (GB 152 AAR2194).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates.


Further deposits are expected.

Corporate Names