Jamaica: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

Manifestos, speeches, pamphlets, leaflets, letters, newsletters, journals, posters and miscellaneous election material, 1938 onwards, issued by the Jamaica Labour Party, the People's National Party (Jamaica), the People's Political Party (Jamaica), the Revolutionary Marxist League of Jamaica, the Socialist Party of Jamaica, the Women's Freedom Movement (Jamaica), the Workers' Liberation League (Jamaica), the Workers Party of Jamaica, and Young Jamaica.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jamaican politics, like those of many nations in the region emerging from British rule, has been dominated by parties with close trade union links. The founder of the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) gave his name to its main affiliated union, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), while its leading rival, the People's National Party (PNP), is supported by the National Workers' Union (NWU). The JLP won the first elections conducted under full universal adult suffrage in 1944 and later the 1962 elections to determine which party would lead Jamaica to independence (following four years in which the country was part of the Federation of the West Indies). In 1972 the PNP's Michael Manley (son of the party's founder Norman Manley) was elected on a programme of social reform whose attempted implementation led to conflict with vested interests on the island (now increasingly represented by the JLP and Edward Seaga) and with the United States. The PLP won the following elections but were defeated at the polls in 1980, both campaigns being marked by violence between the supporters of the two parties. Following a decade of JLP rule Manley and the PLP, having essentially abandoned their previous political stance, returned to power in 1989 and have remained the governing party since.


Alphabetically by party, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies


The Political Archives Project was a 2.5 year project to catalogue political archive material held in the libraries of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute for the Study of the Americas to the University and present it as a cohesive virtual collection. The project was successfully completed in July 2005. Descriptions of all the documents may be found by searching the library catalogue at http://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/, or via the Political Archives website: http://polarch.sas.ac.uk

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT).

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The ICS political parties collection was begun in 1960-1961, with special emphasis being placed on primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos. Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

Related Material

See also Jamaica: Trades Unions Material (TU.JM) and Jamaica: Pressure Groups Material (PG.JM), as well as Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.

Geographical Names