Key moments in trade union history – now just a click away

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Embargo: 00.01 hrs Wednesday 5th March 2003

Press Release

Key moments in trade union history - now just a click away

Researchers, students and labour history specialists will all benefit from an exciting new online resource launched today by London Metropolitan University and the TUC.

A new website The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online, will provide a showcase for the historic and unique archive held in the TUC Library Collections.

The websitewill present a history of the British trade union movement since the development of organised labour in the early nineteenth century. Five themed learning packages will guide the user through nearly 200 years of social history illustrated with digitised photographs, posters and documents from the TUC Library Collections.

The first phase will see the release of two packages. The first is a Timeline of trade union history enabling the user to dip into a particular period, read about the major events, personalities and struggles and then view related images from the collections. The second will be digitised pages from the original Match Workers Strike Fund Register. This is a unique record of the young, mostly female, strikers at the Bryant and May factory in Hackney who struck in 1888 for better pay and working conditions. Their struggle represented the birth of a new phase in trade union history - New Unionism - one where largely unskilled workers began to become more effectively organised.

Christine Coates, Librarian of the TUC Collections, said:

'This dynamic, new website presents us with a marvellous opportunity to do justice at long last to these amazing collections. Trade unions have played, and will continue to play, a decisive role in shaping economic and social developments in Britain - yet much of their history is at present unknown and inaccessible to the public. This new resource will hopefully change all that and allow us to connect with the working lives of our predecessors.'

More themed packages will be added throughout the year including the full original manuscript to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, a selection of material from the Library’s archive of the General Strike of 1926 as well as every Congress Report from 1868-1968.

The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online can be viewed at http://www.unio n hist o ry.info from 5 March 2003.

Notes to Editors:

This initiative has been funded with the support of a £ 175,000 grant from the New Opportunities Fund, a National Lottery good cause distributor, through the Fund’s nof-digitise programme.

Grant awards from the New Opportunities Fund’s £50 million nof-digitise programme were announced in 2001. The programme is helping to put information that supports lifelong learning into digitised form. The nof-digitise grant awardees are developing learning materials covering a wide range of topics including arts, science, history, geography, citizenship and community information for Internet access. Details on www . n o f-d i gitise.org .

The New Opportunities Fund distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environment projects across the UK with a particular focus on disadvantage and improving quality of life. The Fund supports sustainable projects that will: improve the quality of life of people throughout the UK; address the needs of those who are most disadvantaged in society; encourage community participation; and complement relevant local and national strategies and programmes.

For information on lottery funding opportunities across the UK contact: www.lotterygoodcauses. o rg.uk Telephone: 0845 275 0000

Textphone: 0845 275 0022

The TUC Library Collections, which transferred to the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) in September 1996, were first established in 1922 for the use of the Trades Union Congress and affiliated unions. They constitute a major research library in the social sciences, with reference and historical works on the trade union movement, union publications, documents relating to working conditions and industrial relations in various industries, and material collected from the various campaigns and policy areas in which the TUC has been involved since its foundation in 1868. A major strength of the Library is the large collection of pamphlets and other ephemera, which have survived here as in few other comparable libraries.

Contact details:

Alex Bromley, Project Manager

Tel: 0207 133 4065

a.bromley@londonmet.ac.uk

Chris Coates, Librarian, TUC Library Collections

Tel: 020 7133 2260

c.coates@londonmet.ac.uk

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