Co-operative Union Photographic Collection

Scope and Content

Each series is a heading from the original classification scheme used by the Information Department. The first sub-fonds contain those listed by subject and the second sub-fonds contain the international photographs, listed by nation. The files are mainly photographic, with some sundry explanatory papers that were filed with the photographs by the Information Department. They have been listed in the original order with which they were in the office cabinets.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Co-operative Union (initially known as the Co-operative Central Board and now known as Co-operatives UK) was established in 1870. The establishment followed a decision at the 1869 Co-operative National Congress to establish a central body that would work on behalf of its member co-operative societies and mutuals in order to promote the activities of those members, offer group support and a forum for exchange of best practice. Co-operatives UK was launched in January 2003 following the merger of the Co-operative Union and the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) in December 2001, as "the central membership organisation for co-operative enterprise throughout the UK"" (Co-operatives UK website, Oct 2007). The purpose of Co-operatives UK is "to promote, develop and extend co-operative enterprise" (Co-operatives UK website, Oct 2007), through adhering to the values and principles of the wider co-operative movement. It is, in turn, a member of the International Co-operative Alliance, based in Geneva that aims to protect and extend the work of co-operatives internationally.

These photographs belonged to the Information Department of the Co-operative Union, providing a photographic stock for use in various publications. These included the monthly Co-operative Review (Aug 1926 - 1987) as well as one off publications. The photographs therefore cover a wide range of subjects, through which one can identify co-operative activities and commemorative events, such as delegate visits. The international photographs were used for the same purpose and allow the user to compare conditions and activities of co-operatives of different nationalities.

Access Information

National Co-operative Archive Co-operative College Holyoake House Hanover Street Manchester M60 0AS

Open records, they can be viewed by previous arrangement, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. Contact the Archivist at:,

Other Finding Aids

No other finding aids.

Alternative Form Available

Where a digital surrogate exists for an image the reference to it has been included and it is listed in the extent field of the item, with the date of the digital image in round brackets in the date field.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled Oct-Dec 2007 by Karyn Stuckey, Assistant Archivist and Alex Hailey, volunteer. Mar 2008-Apr 2010 work continued by Adam Shaw, Assistant Archivist, Sophie Stewart, Assistant Archivist, Jean Wright Volunteer, Vivienne Shiels Volunteer, and Helen Lindsay, Volunteer.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction can be carried out in accordance with our Reproduction Policy and copyright law. Please contact the Archive for details.

Where the photographer or photographic studio is known this has been noted in the creator field, where it is not known the creator has been identified as the Co-operative Union as they employed in-house photographers.


Many of the photographs were used in the Co-operative Unions publications, where it is known/identifiable where these have been used it has been noted in the publication field for the item.