Marjorie Nicholson Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of Marjorie Nicholson, 1935-1997, mainly comprising research papers and cuttings collection documenting the work of the Trades Union Congress International Division, which she used for her books on TUC involvement overseas, including subject files on TUC organisation, 1916-1944; labour law, particularly the 1971 Industrial Relations Act ; the Co-Operative movement in the UK and the Commonwealth, 1952-1991; TUC International Committee minutes and papers, 1958-1970; the International Labour Office, 1919-1964; colonial welfare and development, 1929-1946; forced labour, 1953-1989; India, 1926-1973; Africa, particularly the Trade Union movement and Pan-Africanism, 1949-1984, and individual African countries, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe; the Caribbean, 1926-1978, particularly Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana; the United States, 1942-1971 Personal correspondence, papers, and photographs, 1934-1985, including drafts of two unpublished novels, journal and newspaper articles Press cuttings, 1956-1991, subjects include trade unions, labour law, Russia and the Soviet Union and Africa

Administrative / Biographical History

Marjorie Nicholson was born in 1914. She attended Oxford University in the 1930s and, after graduating, taught before becoming an extra-mural organising tutor with Ruskin College. Whilst on a working trip to Nigeria in 1949 she became convinced that to help develop democratic self governing institutions she had to work full time from within the labour movement. Firstly, she worked as secretary at the Fabian Colonial Bureau. Here she was involved in producing pamphlets and memoranda and editing its monthly journal Venture. The Fabian Society took a special interest in the Colonies, founding its Colonial Bureau in 1940, thanks to the knowledge and enthusiasm of Nicholson and Rita Hinden. They not only provided expert advice to members of both Houses of Parliament, but befriended many young colonials, mainly students, on their first visits to London. Through her work at the Bureau Nicholson met and assisted India's Jawaharlal Nehru and Krishna Menon, Eric Williams from Trinidad, Hugh Springer from Barbados, Siaka Stevens from Sierra Leone, Tom Mboya from Kenya, Lee Kuan Yew from Singapore and Kwame Nkrumah from Ghana, who were to become leaders of the National movements in their own countries. During this period she also stood three times, unsuccessfully, as the Labour candidate for Windsor. From 1955 she worked in the International Department of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), one of the few women working in policy development employed by the trade union movement. After her retirement in 1972, she began writing up the history of the TUC's involvement overseas from her own papers and cuttings collection. The first volume, The TUC overseas: the roots of policy, was published in 1986 and she was still working on a second volume at the time of her death in July 1997. Publications: The TUC overseas: the roots of policy, London (1986).


The papers and cuttings have been arranged in three sections: subject files, classified by Nicholson using the TUC Registry system; personal papers; and press cuttings, arranged by country and date. The collection also included a large quantity of books and pamphlets. The pamphlets have been placed in the subject file sequence where many were already filed.

Access Information

Open to bona fide researchers by appointment, at the discretion of the TUC Librarian.

Acquisition Information

The papers were bequeathed to the TUC, gathered together by Nicholson's solicitor and passed to Michael Walsh, Head of the TUC International Department.


Source: Obituary in the Guardian 11/8/97 (copy held by the TUC Library Collections).

Other Finding Aids

List (1998), available on-line. Also copy at the National Register of Archives, Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts; in addition some files contain Nicholson's own detailed contents guides, also there are her own card files, arranged initially by format and then subdivided by country or subject, and a guide to the press cuttings in the personal papers.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Janet Foster as part of RSLP AIM25 Project, based on a description by Amanda Mason who listed the papers in 1998. Used with the kind permission of the AIM25 project. Amended by Genesis Project Officer, June 2002. The description was submitted to the Archives Hub in 2008 as part of the Genesis 2008 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying is permitted within the terms of copyright legislation, although copying of some items including fragile material is at the discretion of the librarian.

Custodial History

Related Material

Rhodes House Library holds Fabian Colonial Bureau records, 20th century (Ref: MSS Brit Emp s 365). Berkshire Record Office holds papers relating to her parliamentary candidature.