Guyana: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

Manifestos, speeches, pamphlets, leaflets, letters, newsletters, journals, posters, press releases, and miscellaneous election material at national and youth levels from 1950, issued by the Alliance of Patriotic Guyanese, the British Guiana Freedom Association, the Democratic Labour Movement, the Guyana National Liberation Movement, the National Democratic Party (Guyana), the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (Guyana), the People's National Congress, the People's Progressive Party (Guyana), the Progressive Youth Organisation (Guyana), and the Working People's Alliance Guyana. The items held here deal mainly with issues of race, socialism, imperialism and democracy at but there are also materials relating to the liberalisation of Guyanese politics under Burnham's successor Desmond Hoyte and the eventual electoral triumph of Cheddi Jagan and the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in 1992.

Administrative / Biographical History

The post-war period in Guyana saw the emergence of the parties and characters that were to dominate its political scene both before and after independence in 1966. Cheddi Jagan formed the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in 1950 and was joined in this new entity by Forbes Burnham. The two were the emerging leaders of the Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese repectively, and as such gave the PPP a formidable electoral base which translated into their 1953 election victory. Despite the dismissal of this government after less than six months by the British and the Burnham's departure to form the People's National Congress (PNC) the PPP continued to hold majorities after the 1957 and 1961 polls. Further labour unrest in 1964 led to the amendment of the constitution under British auspices to allow for the introduction of proportional representation, and under this new system the PNC and conservative United Force (UF) were able to form a government after elections the same year. Burnham was to remain Prime Minister until his death in 1985, overseeing the transition to independence and governing increasingly autocratically in the face of accusations from the PPP and the emergent Working People's Alliance (WPA) of election-rigging and human rights abuses.


Alphabetically by group, 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, or via the Political Archives website:

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 Guyana: Trades Unions Materials (TU.GY) and Guyana: Pressure Groups Materials (PG.GY), 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