Labour Party Archives

Scope and Content

The Labour Party archives date from the Party's foundation in 1900 as the Labour Representation Committee. Over the years they have survived six changes of address. Their survival can largely be attributed to Jim Middleton, the first employee of the Labour Party, deputy General Secretary for 35 years and General Secretary for ten.

He maintained an effective filing system that ensured that all the records were in good order and that the correspondence of the first seven years remained intact. In 1960 the Labour Party librarian made the archives accessible for historical research and in 1972 the Party commissioned the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts to sort and list them. In 1990 they were transferred to the National Museum of Labour History at their new premises in Manchester, where the repository became known as the Labour History Archive and Study Centre.

The archive consists of domestic correspondence from 1900 until the 1990s. It has been listed up to 1964. There is international correspondence from 1929 up to the 1970s. It has been listed up to the 1960s. Amongst the material available but unlisted are the minutes of the National Executive Committee from its first meeting in 1900 until 1996, various sub-committees dating from 1918 up to the 1970s, minutes of the International Sub-Committee from 1919 to the 1980s. There are also the Organisation Sub-Committee minutes from 1931 to the 1980s and various women's committee minutes dating from 1919 to the 1970s.

The Labour Party has acquired various other collections over the years, These include the records of the Women's Labour League 1906-18, the War Emergency Workers National Committee 1914-19, the Council of Action papers 1920-21, the Arthur Henderson papers 1915-35, the papers of the Chartist Henry Vincent 1837-39 and those of the early socialists Frederick Pickles 1885-1907 and HA Barker 1882-1933. There are also the papers of the Labour Party's first women's officer and later MP for Sunderland, Marion Phillips 1929-31, (which include papers on the Consumers' Council 1918-20) and the papers of HN Brailsford 1912-58.

A summary guide of the archive is available from the Labour History Archives and Study Centre.

Labour Party Files.

  • Labour Representation Committee Correspondence LP/LRC
  • Labour Party General Correspondence LP/GC
  • Labour Party Subject Files Volumes 1-3 LP/*-*
  • Labour Party. J.S. Middleton Papers
  • Labour Party. General Secretary's Papers
  • Labour Party International Department LP/ID
  • Labour Party. William Gillies papers LP/WG
  • Labour Party Spanish Civil War Collection LP/SCW
  • Labour Party War Emergency Workers' National Committee LP/WNC
  • Labour Party Council of Action Collection LP/CA
  • Labour Party. Labour and Socialist International LP/LSI

Other Organisations

  • Mary Middleton and Margaret MacDonald
  • Baby Clinic and Hospital LP/BAB
  • Consumer's Council LP/CC
  • Daily Citizen LP/DC
  • Labour Party Distressed Areas Commission LP/DAC
  • Labour Party Manifesto Group LP/MANIF
  • Standing Joint Committee of Industrial Women's Organisations LP/SJCIWO
  • Women's Labour League LP/WLL


  • Robert Applegarth collection LP/APP
  • Barker (Labour Union) papers LP/BAR
  • Keir Hardie Memorial Committee: J. Keir Hardie MSS LP/JKH
  • Judith Hart papers LP/HART
  • Eric Heffer papers LP/ESH
  • Henderson papers LP/HEN
  • Bronterre O'Brien papers LP/OB
  • Marion Phillips collection LP/MP
  • Frederick Pickles collection LP/PIC
  • Minikin / Vincent papers LP/VIN
  • Beatrice Webb Newsletters LP/WE
  • Ellen Wilkinson Press Cuttings LP/WI

Access Information


Acquisition Information

The archives are the property of the Labour Party and were originally held in the party's headquarters in London. They were deposited in the National Museum of Labour History in 1990. The archives are now held at the Labour History Archives and Study Centre at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.


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The data in this finding aid is in the copyright of the place of deposit; the Access to Archives database is in Crown Copyright.