the working class movement library
The Working Class Movement Library started life in the 1950s as the personal collection of Edmund and Ruth Frow. It became a Charitable Trust in 1971 and moved to its present home in 1987.
The collection tells the story of Britain's working classes from the earliest days of industrialisation to the present day.
Working people have always struggled to get their voices heard. The Working Class Movement Library records over 200 years of organising and campaigning by ordinary men and women. The collection provides a rich insight into working people's daily lives as well as their thoughts, hopes, fears and the roles they played in the significant events of their time.
We have information on:
• The trades and lives of people who worked in the past - brushmakers, silk workers, tailors, boilermakers and others
• Trade unions, where people have banded together to improve their working conditions
• Politics and campaigns, from Chartism to the General Strike and more recent protests
• Creativity and culture - drama, literature, music, art and leisure
• Important people who have led activist lives
• International events such as the Spanish Civil War, and aspects of Irish history
Much of this information is held in books, pamphlets or leaflets. Many more stories are told by our photos, banners and tape recordings.
Our collection captures many points of view to tell the story of Britain's working classes from the beginning of industrialisation to the present day. Our oldest items date from the 1760s. From the 1820s we have some of the earliest trade union documents to have survived.
By the 1980s the Frows’ house was at bursting point and so the City of Salford Council agreed to house the magnificent library in a Victorian building called Jubilee House on Salford Crescent. The collection has been there ever since.
Registered charity no. 1115731