The archive covers the first ten volumes of the Dictionary (1972 - 2000), recording the lives of over nine hundred people.
There are research files for nearly everyone who appears within the pages of the Dictionary, as well special notes files, which are organised by volume [U DLB/1-10]. U DLB/11 contains correspondence files, generic newspaper cuttings and various bibliographies and these help to trace the development of the Dictionary, from its inception in the early 1960s. In addition there are files for over a hundred people who were not selected for publication - for example, RH Tawney, GDH Cole and Victor Gollancz all have files in U DLB/11 but were never published in the first ten volumes [U DLB/11/16, 15 & 39].
The files for each entrant vary in the richness of their content. Many offer valuable additional material to the published biographical entry. The file of Clem Edwards is one such example [U DLB/3/24]. Not only does the file contain valuable correspondence with his family, but it also contains the only copy of his unpublished memoirs, 'Life as I have seen it'. All the files contain at least one draft, allowing the reader to chart the progress to the final entry. Many files also contain a draft for inclusion in the French version of the Dictionary [Dictionnaire biographique du Mouvement ouvrier International (Paris: Les Editions Ouvrieres, 1979)]. Sources such as reproductions of birth, death and marriage certificates, news cuttings, writings and speeches of the entrants and various contemporary articles on the subject are also available. Much of the correspondence proves significant. Correspondence from Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1916-1995) is present in several files, including that of his Aunt, Mary Sutherland, in the file of Leah Manning, as well as in a letter of condolence sent to the wife of John (Jack) Bailey by the Prime Minister. A similar letter of condolence from the Queen, Elizabeth II, appears in the file of John Wilson. Harry Hamson's file includes copies of letters from Keir Hardie and Lady Cynthia Mosley's file contains correspondence with her husband and leader of British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley. [U DLB/6/63, 7/47, 2/7, 1/220, 5/35 & 5/57]