Modern Records Centre

Images kindly provided by The Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

In October 1973, the Modern Records Centre was founded with the intention of locating and preserving primary sources for modern British social, political and economic history – concentrating particularly on the national history of industrial relations, industrial politics and labour history.

The MRC holds the largest collection of trade union archives in the UK. These include more than 5,000 boxes of documents created and collected by the Trades Union Congress, national records of hundreds of trade unions (ranging in scale from huge organisations such as the Transport and General Workers’ Union to smaller, specialist bodies such as the East London Ropemakers’ Trade Union), and collections relating to individual trade union leaders and activists.

Archives relating to the British Trotskyist movement are also a key part of the MRC’s collections. These include the central archives of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant Tendency) and the International Marxist Group, and collections belonging to various leaders and activists, including Tony Cliff, founder of the Socialist Workers’ Party, and several members of the 1930s Balham Group – the founding group of British Trotskyism.

Other key collections include national archives of trade associations and employers’ organisations (including the Confederation of British Industry), archives of protest and pressure groups (including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Howard League for Penal Reform), and archives relating to the motor industry and cycling.

The Modern Records Centre’s collections contain a large amount of material relating to the relationship between Britain and Russia after the revolutions of 1917, particularly from the trade union viewpoint.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, more than 600 documents from the MRC’s collections are being digitised and being made available online in the new digital collection ‘The Russian Revolution and Britain, 1917-1928’ [link to ]. The online resources include archives relating to the initial British response to the February Revolution (including the creation of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils), Britain’s involvement in the Russian Civil War, the creation of British Councils of Action in 1920 to prevent intervention in the Polish-Soviet War, and British visitors to Russia and the Soviet Union (including Tom Mann, Britain’s representative on the Red International of Labour Unions, and the Trades Union Congress delegations of 1920 and 1924).

Rare photographs of Russia between 1917-1921 can also be seen online as part of ‘Henry Sara’s lantern lectures’ [ ]. ‘Russia’s labours’ and ‘Russia’s struggle’ contain more than 200 colourised lantern slides from the archive of the Communist Henry Sara, showing images of the revolution, civil war and rebuilding of Soviet Russia.