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Making of the Modern World (HI153): Identities

The Modern Records Centre holds nationally important collections for the study of political, social and economic history. Just a small selection of documents relevant to the 'Identities' section of the course 'Making of the Modern World' are shown below, organised into three sections - 'Class', 'Gender' and 'Race'.

 Most archive collections at the Centre come from trade unions, employers' organisations or individuals involved in the labour movement. Many of the sources reproduced below therefore reflect left-wing views on the subjects of class, gender and race.

How to find out more about the documents:

Click on the reference codes of the documents to go to their descriptions in our on-line catalogues. This can help you to put the documents in context and find similar items. 

Where to find more sources:

Relevant material may also be found in other online 'Resources for Warwick modules' and in the online exhibitions.

Try searching our online catalogues to find other sources.

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Class

'Consideration for servants', 1852

'Consideration for servants', 1852

Extract from 'Eliza Cook's Journal', a weekly periodical written, edited and published by Eliza Cook. Cook was a proponant of women's rights and education for the working classes, and had been involved with the Chartist movement. This article looks at the relationship between a female domestic servant and her mistress.

[Included in a file on the organisation of domestic workers, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/54.76/41]

'To the Landlords, Clergy, and Farmers of West England, and Others', 1872

'To the Landlords, Clergy, and Farmers of West England, and Others', 1872

Leaflet issued by the West of England Agricultural Labourers' Improvement Association, asking the landowners to support the labourers by improving their wages and conditions, and giving them a vested interest in working the soil. "If you, our natural leaders and allies, turn from us, can you wonder if we seek other guides?".

[Included in the 'Miscellaneous series' of records; document reference: MSS.21/3550]

'Invest your leisure', 1920s

'Invest your leisure', 1920s

Leaflet explaining some of the ideas behind the work of the Workers' Educational Association. The WEA was a non-party political organisation founded in 1903 and supported by the trade union movement. It argued that the existing education system favoured the children of the wealthy and demanded equality of educational opportunity. It campaigned for changes to the system (e.g. the raising of the school leaving age and provision of free secondary education) and ran classes and summer schools for workers.

[Included in a file on the WEA, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/814.11/1]

'Education for emancipation', 1925

'Education for emancipation', 1925

Annual report of the National Council of Labour Colleges. The NCLC was in favour of the provision of an independent education by the working class for the working class. It dismissed universities as "centres of upper-class learning", where "on social subjects their teaching is narrow, prejudiced and unscientific".

[Included in a collection of ephemera re labour movement adult education, 1916-1934, part of the 'Miscellaneous series' of records; document reference: MSS.21/2109/17]

'What is the Plebs League?', undated (1920s)

'What is the Plebs League?', undated (1920s)

The Plebs League was founded "to further the interests of working-class education as a partizan effort to improve the position of Labour in the present, and to assist in the abolition of wage-slavery".

[Included in a collection of ephemera re labour movement adult education, 1916-1934, part of the 'Miscellaneous series' of records; document reference: MSS.21/2109/26]

'Standard of living enquiry', 1926

'Standard of living enquiry', 1926

This shows the front page of one of the responses to a questionnaire sent out by the Union of Post Office Workers (UPW) to its members. They were asked to provide detailed information about their weekly household expenditure and comment on "further circumstances affecting your family standard of life", including their ability to pay for medical bills, holidays, clothes or furniture.

[Included in the records of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/6/5]

'The working class home: its furnishing and equipment', 1937'The working class home: its furnishing and equipment', 1937

'The working class home: its furnishing and equipment', 1937

Report by the Council for Art and Industry on their "experiment" to fully furnish a working class home with well designed and good quality furniture and equipment for £40. It includes an outline of necessary items, detailed costings, and illustrations. As the response to the 'Standard of living enquiry' above suggests, £40 would have been out of the reach of many working class families setting up in a new home.

[Included in the records of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/6/2/11]

'The class war', undated

'The class war', undated

This leaflet uses the Bible and aspects of Christian theology to support the Marxist idea of a class war, and is included in material relating to the Christian Socialist, Rev. Conrad Noel (1869-1942). Ordained in the Church of England in 1894, from 1907 Noel was the organising secretary of the Church Socialist League.

[Included in the papers of Reg Groves, journalist and socialist; document reference: MSS.172/TH/40]

'The banned broadcast of William Ferrie', 1934

'The banned broadcast of William Ferrie', 1934

"What the BBC censored: a workers reply to Sir Herbert Austin on the condition of the working class", published by the Workers' Bookshop Ltd.

[Included in the records of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/4/1]

'Are you a worker? Where the middle-class stands', 1934

'Are you a worker? Where the middle-class stands', 1934

Labour Party booklet written by Sir Stafford Cripps in response to a broadcast by the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. It outlines the "class struggle" for economic power and attempts to explain "how these classes are constituted" under the present system of capitalism. Cripps argues that every "servant of the capitalist" (both wage earners (workers) and salary earners (middle-classes)) would benefit from socialism and "a classless society".

[Included in the records of the National Union of Railwaymen; document reference: MSS.127/NU/5/1/70]

Diary / notebook of Frank Forster (b.1910), labourer, 1935Diary / notebook of Frank Forster (b.1910), labourer, 1935

Diary / notebook of Frank Forster (b.1910), labourer, 1935

Forster, a socialist, wrote in detail about his thoughts on contemporary social and political issues, as well as about events in his own life. His diaries, dating from 1934-1938, include his thoughts on class - the example shown here relates to the influence of class on the lyrics of popular dance music - the "songs, illustrative of the degenerate life of the upper classes" act as "dope for the masses".

[Included in the papers of Frank Forster; document reference: MSS.364/3]

'Help for housewives': transcript of BBC broadcast, 1946'Help for housewives': transcript of BBC broadcast, 1946

'Help for housewives': transcript of BBC broadcast, 1946

Debate about domestic service between a representative of the National Union of Domestic Workers, middle-class and working-class housewives, and domestic servants. The section reproduced here focuses on the differences between the middle class and working class women.

[Included in the archives of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/54.76/8, file 1]

Leaflet written in reaction to a perceived threat to the middle classes, undated (1945-1951)

Leaflet written in reaction to a perceived attack on the middle classes (and, by extension, the country), 1946

The anonymous author accuses the Labour government of attacking "private enterprise" and encouraging "class hatred... by cheap appeals to class prejudice and class suspicion".

[Included in the records of the Brewers' Society; document reference: MSS.420/BS/4/74/31]


 

Gender

"For the Women Ropemakers Strike Fund", 1891

"For the Women Ropemakers Strike Fund", 1891

Letter to the women workers at Frost Brothers, rope manufacturers and yarn spinners, from the "Stokers of No.7 House C Shift". The women, members of the all female East London Ropemakers' Trade Union, were on strike for better pay. The stokers, in recognition of the women's "heroism and suffering", were sending a donation to help support the strikers.

[One of 11 letters about the strike, included in the records of the East London Ropemakers' Trade Union; document reference: 627/4/1/7]

'Objections to women's suffrage stated and answered', 1916

'Objections to women's suffrage stated and answered', 1916

This is the text of one of two speeches in favour of women's suffrage, included in the papers of Leslie Scott, a Conservative MP for Liverpool. This speech (probably delivered by Scott) attempts to answer, one by one, each argument against women's political enfranchisement. It suggests that "many of these are the result of prejudice, short-sightedness and the general opposition of people to new ideas and forms of government". The first two pages of the other speech are included in the module resources for 'Birth of Feminisms'.

[included in the papers of Sir Lesie Scott; document reference: MSS.119/3/S/LI/9-10]

'To the working women of Great Britain', 1920s 

'To the working women of Great Britain', 1920s

Workers' Educational Association leaflet outlining "what women want to know" about educational opportunities and explaining how the WEA can help, as "the difficulties which face the working woman may be greater than those of the working man, but education can mean just as much to her, and her need for it is no less great".

[Included in a file on the WEA, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/814.11/1]

'To the woman in the home', 1923

'To the woman in the home', 1923

Labour Party leaflet aimed at the new women voters. It outlines the party's ideas on housing - "No slums! No crowded courts! No dismal rows of dingy dwellings!" and provision of "every labour-saving device which common sense and science can invent".

[Included in files on the Labour Party, from the records of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation; document reference: MSS.36/L41, file 4]

Report on deputation to the Minister of Health from the Standing Joint Committee of Industrial Women's Organisations, 1924

Report on deputation to the Minister of Health from the Standing Joint Committee of Industrial Women's Organisations, 1924

Areas of concern included welfare provisions for maternity and the teaching of birth control - "harm was being done to both women and children by the too rapid succession of babies and the practice of abortion was growing alarmingly".

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

Press cuttings reporting a speech by the President of the National Association of Schoolmasters, 1927Press cuttings reporting a speech by the President of the National Association of Schoolmasters, 1927

Press cuttings reporting a speech by the President of the National Association of Schoolmasters, 1927

The attitude of the NAS towards the employment of women as teachers can be identified through headlines such as ""Wild West" women teachers: not wanted in boys' schools", "Men teachers for boys", and "Girls who become teachers: Suggestion that it is "to keep them out of the temptations of city life"".

[Included in the records of the National Association of Schoolmasters; document reference: MSS.38A/7/1]

'Equal Political Rights!', 1927

'Equal Political Rights!', 1927

Leaflet for a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, arranged by the Equal Political Rights Campaign Committee, to demand that women should have the vote on an equal basis to men. An accompanying letter states that "an Anti-Suffrage Campaign of some violence is being conducted by some sections of the Press, and in certain political circles; and it is felt necessary in order to show wide support for an Equal Franchise..., more especially from women themselves".

[Included in a file on 'Women: Political rights', from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/822/1]

'To our men comrades''To our men comrades'

'To our men comrades', c.1928

Leaflet from the Workers’ Birth Control Group, demanding that information on birth control should be made available to working mothers through maternity and welfare centres. The leaflet emphasises the risks of childbirth (e.g. four times more women died from childbirth than men killed in mining accidents) and the strain of continual pregnancies.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

'Is woman's place the home?' by Winifred Horrabin, undated (early 1930s?)

'Is woman's place the home?' by Winifred Horrabin, undated (early 1930s?)

Pamphlet published by the Socialist League. It was written with the intention of encouraging women to take an interest in political affairs amid the current "economic blizzard", and to take "their full share in the new reconstruction that is going on around the world" and work for socialism.

[Included in a series of booklets on 'Women in Industry', from the records of the Transport and General Workers' Union; document reference: MSS.126/TG/RES/X/749B]

Letter about the representation of women in the 'Daily Herald', 1933

Letter about the representation of women in the 'Daily Herald', 1933

Sent anonymously to Walter Citrine, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress. The 'Daily Herald' was owned by the TUC.

[Included in a file on 'Daily Herald: complaints - news', from the records of the TUC; document reference: MSS.292/790.3/1]

The "Seven Ideals" of the Body of Seven, 1943

The "Seven Ideals" of the Body of Seven, 1943

The Body of Seven was a women's organisation which objected to what they saw as "feminists" who "encourage antagonism toward man", and argued that a woman's priority is "to give her personal love and endeavour and her intelligence to the home, the man and the child".

[Included in a file on the organisation of domestic workers, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/54.76/41]

Haldane Society: Report of Sub-Committee appointed to consider the laws affecting the economic status of married women...', 1946

Haldane Society: 'Report of Sub-Committee appointed to consider the laws affecting the economic status of married women...', 1946

The report argues that as the law regards married women to be dependents of their husbands, it "tend[s] to perpetuate the married women's dependent and serf-like status".

[Included in a file on 'Women's welfare rights societies', from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/821/1]

 

Race

Bilingual leaflet for the Jewish Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Tailors, c.1889

Bilingual leaflet for the Jewish Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Tailors, c.1889

It contains information about the time and place of meetings in the East End of London, and rates of benefit for members. Other documents relating to the Jewish community in 19th century London are included in the module resources for 'The Victorian City'.

[Included in the papers of William Wess, trade unionist, socialist and Jewish activist; document reference: MSS.240/W/3/5]

Copy of leaflet advertising "a procession of Jewish unemployed and sweaters' victims", 1889

Copy of leaflet advertising "a procession of Jewish unemployed and sweaters' victims", 1889

The procession ("with music") is to march from the East End of London.

[Included in the papers of William Wess, trade unionist, socialist and Jewish activist; document reference: MSS.240/W/3/32]

Photograph of deputation to the Minister of the Board of Trade, 1908

Photograph of deputation to the Minister of the Board of Trade, 1908

The deputation from the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union (shown here with an advertisement for a demonstration in London) were protesting "against the employment of Chinese on British ships".

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation; document reference: MSS.159/3/B/63/2]

'National appeal to British white seamen', 1930

'National appeal to British white seamen', 1930

Appeal by The Order of the White Seamen's Brotherhood against the employment of non-white foreign labour in the Merchant Navy. Their objections include the resulting unemployment of British seamen, the potential unreliability of foreigners in the event of war, and the establishment of relations between foreign seamen and British women.

[Included in a file on 'Alien and coloured labour', included in the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/655/6]

Extract from proceedings of Durham Autumn Assizes, 1930

Extract from proceedings of Durham Autumn Assizes, 1930

Proceedings of the case Rex v. Ali Said and others. The prosecution took place following a riot in South Shields, allegedly incited by trade unionists objecting to restrictive practices of the Shipping Federation. The accused included Arab and Somali seamen. According to the proceedings "when these events happened there were several hundreds of Arabs in South Shields living in boarding-houses, in licensed boarding houses, kept by Arab lodging-house keepers" in the district of Holborn. The extract reproduced here is part of the evidence of Detective Inspector Alexander Wilson on the riot and the actions of the police officers.

[Included in the records of the National Union of Seamen; document reference: MSS.175/7/LE/106]

Leaflet advertising an Indian Workers' Conference in London, 1939

Leaflet advertising an Indian Workers' Conference in London, 1939

"The object of the Conference is to concretise the aims and aspirations of these Indian workers in Great Britain, and to seek for the necessary sanctions to implement them". Indian workers are mentioned as, in particular, being employed as seamen, labourers, waiters, pedlars and film extras.

[Included in a file on 'Alien and coloured labour', included in the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/655/6/31]

'They tried putting a colour ban on harvests', 1943

'They tried putting a colour ban on harvests', 1943

Leaflet issued by Holborn Trades Council, asking that you "add YOUR protest to the growing demand that racial discrimination be ended for ever". It profiles the case of the "shameful treatment of a Stepney-born girl" Amelia King, rejected for the Women's Land Army because of her skin colour.

[Included in a file on 'Race Relations', from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/805.9/1/140]

'Fight race hatred in Hampstead!', c.1945

'Fight race hatred in Hampstead!', c.1945

Leaflet issued by the Hampstead branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party. It appeals against "a great agitation in Hampstead against the foreign refugees" by the Women's League of Empire. The refugees were Jews from mainland Europe who settled in London during the war and who were accused by the League of occupying homes which should belong to "returning English people".

[Included in the papers of Jimmy Deane; document reference: MSS.325/43/N45(34)]

Leaflet for the Metropolitan Coloured Peoples Housing Association, undated (late 1950s)

Leaflet for the Metropolitan Coloured Peoples Housing Association, undated (late 1950s)

The Housing Association was established in 1957 "to alleviate the housing difficulties of coloured migrants and their families, whether coloured or white, who live in London".

[Included in a file of minutes, etc., re the Metropolitan Coloured Peoples Housing Association; document reference: MSS.21/2023/1-45]

'To the citizens of West London', c.1959

'To the citizens of West London', c.1959

Leaflet issued by the Afro-Asian West Indian Union following the murder of Kelso Cochrane, a West Indian, in 1959, and attacks on the businesses of "coloured persons" in London. It was aimed at white members of the working-class, with the message "let black and white unite to fight the racemongers! Forever drive away this evil from our streets!".

[Included in the papers of Jimmy Deane; document reference: MSS.325/44/N Misc(11). A leaflet aimed at "the coloured citizens of West London" is included in the module resources for ''Race', Difference and the Inclusive Society']

'Brotherhood of man', c.1961'Brotherhood of man', c.1961

'Brotherhood of man', c.1961

Leaflet produced by Birmingham Trades Council "to provide a constructive alternative to the anti-racial propaganda which is becoming rife in Birmingham".

[Included in a file on "Commonwealth workers in Gt Britain (mainly coloured)", from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292B/805.91/1]

Letter on "the employment of coloured applicants" by Coventry Transport Department, 1962

Letter on "the employment of coloured applicants" by Coventry Transport Department, 1962

Written by the President of the Coventry Branch of The Indian Workers' Association of Great Britain to the Secretary of Coventry Borough Labour Party.

[Included in the records of Coventry Borough Labour Party; document reference: MSS.11/3/37/44]