Webb: Trade Union papers

Scope and Content

Materials on trade unionism collated by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, [1814-1924], mainly during research for The history of trade unionism, 1666-1920 (Longmans and Co, London, 1894), Industrial democracy (Longmans and Co, London, 1897) and other works, including manuscript notes relating to various trades, pamphlets and printed material concerning trade unions, trade union rule books, and printed reports and other periodical material.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Webbs pooled their respective talents into writing joint works on economic and social issues. This partnership produced books such as The history of Trade Unionism, 1666-1920 (1894), Industrial democracy (1897), and Problems of Modern Industry (1898). Their work spread into areas such as historical and social research, educational and political reform and journalism, and much of what they produced altered the perceptions of economists and social historians, who had previously ignored the working classes. For a biographical history of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, see the description for the Passfield personal papers (Ref: Passfield).


The material is mainly arranged according to trade or union.

Access Information

Open. Some of the volumes are available on microfilm. Section D of the collection is issued at the main Library issue desk.

Other Finding Aids

Printed handlist available. The majority of the collection is catalogued according to union in the main Library catalogue.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm copies of some of the volumes are available.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The physical condition of the volumes is fragile and care should be taken when handling them.

Archivist's Note

Sources: Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97; Historical Manuscripts Commission National Register of Archives. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the LSE. No documents may be photocopied. Microfilm copies of some volumes.

Custodial History

Given by Sidney Webb in 1939. A further deposit was made in 1948. The collection was formerly known as Coll E/Trade Union Collection. Section D, the Trade Union journals, has been continually added to since the original deposit.

Related Material

There is also material concerning trade unionism in the Passfield papers (Ref: Passfield). For a full list of material relating to the Webbs in the Library and elsewhere, see the description for the Passfield papers.