The union makes us strong: History Online

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For immediate release

1 February 2004

Tony Benn celebrates new TUC History website

Congress House is the location for a reception tonight (Monday) to mark the completion of The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online, a partnership initiative between London Metropolitan University and the TUC to open up access to the TUC Library Collections.

Highlight of the website is the full unedited manuscript to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, voted one of the nation’s 100 best-loved books in the BBC’s recent Big Read event. A classic of working class literature and written in the early years of the last century, it has now been translated into six languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide. The Collections can be viewed on a new website,

This unique resource, numbering 1,700 fragile pages, has previously only been accessible to researchers who had to make the trip to London. Now, thanks to a grant from the New Opportunities Fund, readers around the world can access the manuscript online and read the book as the author intended, both with and without the publishers’ amendments.

Tony Benn is to be the main speaker at the History Online celebration, accompanied by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber and Vice Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, Roderick Floud. Tony Benn says that not only is The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists his favourite book, and the one he has given away the most, but says that he is also attending to show his support for the University in the completion of this important digitisation project.

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary said: "Trade unions have been a major part of British society for more than a hundred and fifty years. From the earliest days, unions have campaigned tirelessly to secure decent wages and safe working conditions for working men, women and children.

'I'm delighted that so much valuable information from our past can now be accessed by students around the globe allowing them to discover exactly how the struggles and victories of the past helped shape the modern British workplace."

Notes to editors

Members of the press are invited to attend the reception:

Start 6.30pm

Venue: Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC2

q The websitewas officially launched on 5 March 2003 and presents a history of the British trade union movement since the development of organised labour in the early nineteenth century. Other themed learning packages include a Timeline of trade union history, the original Match Workers Strike Fund Register, the 1926 General Strike archive as well as every TUC Report between 1868 and 1968.

q The TUC Library Collections, based at London Metropolitan University, were first established in 1922. 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 campaigns 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 libraries.

q London Metropolitan University was created on 1 August 2002 by a merger of London Guildhall University and the University of North London. It is one of the UK’s largest universities, with over 32,500 students, and has a mission to be the university for London and its diverse communities. It has campuses in the City of London, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

q For information about this event, contact:

Robert Hawker, Communications and PR,
London Metropolitan University

Tel: 020 7320 3422

Email: [email protected]

Or Liz Chinchen, TUC Press Office 020 7467 1248 or pager 07699 744115

For information about the TUC Library Collections, contact,

Chris Coates, Librarian, TUC Library Collections

Tel: 020 7133 2260

Email: [email protected]

q This initiative has been funded with the support of a £186,000 grant from the New Opportunities Fund, a National Lottery good cause distributor, through the Fund’s nof-digitise programme. The programme helps to put information that supports learning into digitised form. Details on:

q 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. For information on lottery funding opportunities across the UK contact:

www.lotterygoodcauses. o

Telephone: 0845 275 0000 or Textphone: 0845 275 0022

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