WILPF Cataloguing Complete!

January 13th, 2014 by Carys Lewis, Assistant Archivist

I’m pleased to announce that the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) archive is now fully catalogued and available to search via the LSE Archive catalogue. The archive contains 879 files of description which includes organisation and committee minutes; annual reports; official WILPF publications; photographs; correspondence; reports on WILPF International Congresses,  and tributes and biographical material relating to WILPF members.

WILPF's Croydon branch celebrating their 40th birthday, 1957.

WILPF's Croydon branch celebrating their 40th birthday, 1957.

The archive was deposited with LSE Library in several accessions and part of it had already been listed by a former member of staff before I began working on it. As it had already been made accessible to researchers it was decided that the most recent deposits would be catalogued separately as sub – collections therefore it is possible to find minutes, for example, in more than one part of the archive hierarchy. To most effectively search the catalogue I would recommend using the advanced search tool rather than browsing the hierarchy as material catalogued in later sub-collections could be missed.

The majority of papers cover the 1970s-1990s, these include details of nuclear disarmament campaigns WILPF were active in, such as Greenham Common, there are also several files of correspondence to and from the WILPF office which demonstrate how the British section was maintained by a core band of dedicated and passionate individuals. WILPF’s activities before and during the Second World War are also documented through annual reports and circular letters.

The publications produced by WILPF contain articles on campaigning interests, including civil and human rights; reactions to world events, such as the death of President Kennedy; and details of WILPF achievements, whether by the organisation or individual members. Each national section of WILPF produce their own publication, confusingly nearly all opted for the same title ‘Peace and Freedom’, the archive contains an almost complete run of the British section edition from its launch in 1952 to 1994 – there is also a handful of editions from the 2000s and a few editions from other national sections. WILPF’s International Headquarters also have their own publication ‘Pax et Libertas’, which is represented healthily in the archive from 1925 to 1994.

I have greatly enjoyed cataloguing the WILPF archive and feel that I have learnt a great deal about events which I previously knew very little or nothing about. Some of my favourite finds from the archive include photographs of early WILPF members actively campaigning for peace and disarmament and a diary written by a Swedish WILPF member on a visit to post civil war Finland. As with all archives there are gaps (it is rare to find an archive where everything has survived) and I wish there were more details on how Czechoslovakian members of WILPF were bought to Britain before the outbreak of the Second World War, the annual reports and circular letters sadly do not go into great detail as to how this was achieved. Throughout the course of cataloguing the archive I have developed a deep respect for the women of WILPF and admire their courage and determination in campaigning for peace.

Browsing Booth

December 20th, 2013 by Catherine McIntyre, Archives Assistant

The catalogue for the Booth collection is now available on the Archives online catalogue. It has long been available to search via the Booth Online Archive, but is now available to browse and view in its full hierarchical structure on the Archives catalogue.

Charles Booth undertook a survey into the life and labour of the people of London, the work for which started in 1886 and took until 1903, culminating in the publication of 17 volumes of results. The Booth collection held at LSE Archives & Special Collections contains the original survey materials, including the “poverty maps” and survey notebooks.


Booth Poverty Map, Sheet 6 (BOOTH/E/1/6)

There were three focus areas of the investigation: poverty, industry and religious influences. The team of investigators, which included Beatrice Potter (later Webb) and Clara Collett, interviewed School Board visitors, employers, trades union leaders and ministers. The collection also contains questionnaires returned by employers and reports on visits to churches.

The collection is a wealth of information on the life and work of London’s inhabitants at the end of the Victorian era. It is a popular resource for family history researchers whose ancestors lived and worked in the industries and geographical areas covered by the survey. The poverty maps have been featured in the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ series, most recently with Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman discovering the poverty his Bethnal Green ancestors would have lived in. Other interesting sources of information in the collection include the police notebooks, which contain reports of investigators’ walks with policemen around their beats and interviews with the policemen about the locations in which they work. They paint a vivid picture of life and conditions of the time:

Again south & into Albion Square. Good 2 1/2 storied houses round it, but a very badly kept square. No gates, no flowers, only mud heaps & trenches dug by street boys who were playing in them. 40 or 50 year old trees, remnants of former care, & a dilapidated iron railing round were the only things to show it had once been cared for.

- George H. Duckworth, Walk with Inspector James Flanagan, District 13 (South Hackney and Hackney), 2nd September 1897, BOOTH/B/347.

The collection is also used by academic researchers studying the social, economic and industrial history of the period, or the research methods used to collect data, as well as geographers interested in the classification scheme used to describe the social status of particular streets.

A browse of the catalogue is as rewarding as searching for something (a street, a name, a business) so please do go and have a look and see what you can discover. Click on the + symbols to expand the hierarchy for each series and then click on the file titles to view catalogue records for each file.

The police notebooks, Stepney Union casebooks and some material relating to the Jewish community have been digitised and are available here: police notebooks, Stepney Union casebooks/Jewish material. The 12 maps descriptive of poverty have been digitised and are available to browse and search.

This will be the last blog post from me as I am leaving LSE Library today. I do hope my posts have been interesting and informative to read. Have a merry Christmas everyone!

WILPF, the anti – apartheid movement and Nelson Mandela

December 10th, 2013 by Carys Lewis, Assistant Archivist

Following the news of Nelson Mandela’s death I’ve decided to write about the stance the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) took against apartheid in South Africa. From my previous blog posts you might be surprised that WILPF were involved in the anti – apartheid movement as until now I’ve focussed on their peace and disarmament achievements. However WILPF also campaigns for the freedom of those whose Human Rights are being abused or who are living in undemocratic countries – both of which applied to apartheid South Africa.

Nelson Mandela giving a speech at LSE (IMAGELIBRARY/575)

Nelson Mandela giving a speech at LSE (IMAGELIBRARY/575)

British members of WILPF were informed on the situation in South Africa through regular updates in the publication ‘Peace and Freedom’. The October – December 1963 edition reports that London WILPF members had been given an account of life in South Africa by Leon Levy, the exiled white President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. The article contains the following passage revealing the tensions in South Africa and what Levy thought could be done to stop it:

“There was serious danger of a race war… since all methods of peaceful change were denied to Africans, and intervention by African states could not be ruled out… He believed that a rigorous boycott of South Africa and the imposition of sanctions could destroy the present regime”.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Peace Pilgrimage of 1926

November 29th, 2013 by Carys Lewis, Assistant Archivist

Today 1926 is chiefly remembered for being the year of the ‘General Strike’ which saw workers and Trade Unions across Great Britain fail in their fight for better working conditions as middle class volunteers united to maintain essential services. However there was another unifying event in 1926 which the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) played a key part in – The Great Peace Pilgrimage.

WILPF blog post 4 - Peace pilgrimage for web

The Peace Pilgrimage progressing along London's Embankment

Read the rest of this entry »

The Unregistered History of LSE

October 24th, 2013 by Catherine McIntyre, Archives Assistant

As well as being a collecting archive repository, with deposits of external collections from organisations and individuals, Archives & Special Collections also hold the historical records of the School. I’ve been working on tidying up the catalogue for the “Unregistered” collection and it is now available online.


Title page from the programme for the ceremony marking the laying of the foundation stone for the New Building (now the Old Building) by the King, 20th May 1920 (LSE/Unregistered/27/4/1)

LSE/UNREGISTERED contains a wide variety of documents that are outside of the School’s administrative system and therefore not part of the main body of departmental files in the Central Filing Registry. The collection includes School publications – from yearbooks and calendars to LSE Magazine and circulars; Directors’ files; Library records such as accessions registers, visitor books, guides and rules; examination papers; photographs and Students’ Union print. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the development and growth of LSE.


Summer school 1896-style (LSE/Unregistered/27/4/1)

There is information to discover about students at the School. The calendars include lists of students awarded degrees, as well as scholarships and prizes. The finance division ledgers include fee books, with details of the fees paid by students. There are photographs of students’ union officers and documents covering their activities. The Beaver provides an insight into the weekly goings on at the School from the students’ perspective, with the Clare Market Review journal a more literary publication. We can also see the examination papers students on courses such as economics, anthropology, law and commerce would have undertaken


Staff and Student Circular, December 1947 (LSE/Unregistered/27/8/3)

Staff at the School are covered by lists of academic staff in the calendars, including their publications and the courses on which they lectured. LSE Magazine features news and updates and the staff circular has more informal news items. Both academic and administrative staff members feature in the photographs section. There are offprints and pamphlets of articles, lectures and speeches by staff.


Library Staff Newsletter, Spring 1981 (LSE/Unregistered/28/2/3)

The Library features prominently in the collection, from records supporting its establishment in 1896 to photographs of the new Lionel Robbins building in 2001. Annual reports detail the growth of the Library while the PLEBS staff newsletter provides an insight into the lighter side of the librarians, library assistants and other staff that keep the world’s largest social science library running.

Some of the collection has already been digitised – copies of The Beaver up to 2008 are available on the Digital Library and many of the photographs are available on the Library’s Flickr site.

Travels through war torn Finland

October 9th, 2013 by Carys Lewis, Assistant Archivist

As a History graduate I’m ashamed to admit that prior to starting to catalogue the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) archive I knew nothing about the Finnish Civil War which occurred from 27 January to 15 May 1918. The war was fought between the Social Democrats led by the People’s Deputation of Finland (commonly referred to as the Reds, who received support from the Russian Soviet Republic government) and the anti-socialist Conservative led Senate (the Whites who had support from the German Empire). The Whites won the war which saw both sides partake in campaigns of terror away from the battle field, an estimated 37,000 people died out of a population of 3 million – the majority being Reds who died in prison camps or in the terror campaigns.

During June and July 1922 Matilde Widegren, first President of the Swedish section of WILPF, and her colleague Svea Säfverström travelled through Finland witnessing the effects of the civil war. The WILPF archive contains a typed report of the women’s experiences with some photographs illustrating what they saw. The report includes some statements on the current feelings of the Finnish population such as this:

“The hatred is still very strong. Most people look at the friends of peace almost as traitors. For fear of Soviet Russia and the Communists Finland has not only a great army but also a numerous safeguard of young men, who volunteer in all kinds of military work… Other things that are stirring up the animosity are the beautiful monuments which are erected on the graves of the fallen white soldiers, the Communists having had to bury their dead comrades in some desolate places.”

Grave of the White Soldiers, 1922

Grave of the White Soldiers, 1922

Read the rest of this entry »