Modern Records Centre - University of Warwick, England

The Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick (which confusingly is situated just outside Coventry and a fair distance from the town of Warwick) has the most complete set of trade union records in the UK. It also houses an extensive collection of records of the Trotskyist movement in Britain, acquired from a range of individuals since the 1960s. There is a fair amount of overlap and duplication of material between the various deposits and the same bulletins of particular groups appear in several collections. Some are well catalogued and listed, others less so. The centre is no currently on-line and what follows is a brief and incomplete outline, from memory and notes, of the collections relating to Trotskyism.



Henry Sara was one of the founding fathers of British Trotskyism. Frank Maitland, who inherited his collection and added to it, was an activist in the late 1930s and early 1940s in Scotland who spent his subsequent political years in the Independent Labour Party in England. Scattered through the deposit are papers of the British Trotskyists in the 1930s from the Balham Group/Communist League to the Revolutionary Socialist League which Sara left around 1939. There are extensive fragmentary lecture notes and syllabuses of organisations from the Labour Colleges to the Lenin School and correspondence between Sara and socialists in other countries. The pamphlets and books collected by Sara and Maitland are held in the University Library.


Denzil Harber

Harber was a Trotskyist leader from the mid-thirties to the early 1950s. Extensive runs of bulletins of the Militant Group, RSL and RCP in the 1930s and 1940s. There are photocopies of these at Hull.

Harry Wicks Papers MSS 102 and Reg Groves Papers MSS 172.

These don’t seem to include original papers about the Trotskyist movement of which Groves and Wicks were founder members. The Wicks papers largely relate to the book he did with Logie Barrow ‘Keeping My Head’. The Groves papers to his involvement with religion. But I’ve not looked at them properly.

Tarbuck papers MSS 75

Ken Tarbuck was a member of the RCP and the first secretary of Tony Cliff’s Socialist Review Group from 1951. There are many RCP bulletins and the first minute books of the SR group. There is also a scattering of material from the Fourth International Groups Tarbuck adhered to in the 1960s.

Jimmy Deane papers MSS325

Extensive collection of bulletins and minutes of the Workers International League, RCP and the Grant-Deane groups of the 1950s to the formation of the Militant in 1964. Also newspapers, pamphlets and correspondence. Deane was active from 1937 until the late 1960s.

Bob Purdie papers MSS 149

One or two SLL documents from early 1960s and International Marxist Group(IMG) papers until the mid-1970s.

MSS 95, 128

Collections of material of the IMG from the 1960s and 1970s

Colin Barker Papers MSS 152

(permission required) - Documents of Tony Cliff’s group the International Socialists - 1960s and early 1970s. There is similar material deposited by activists in the IS/SWP from c 1964-1979 in the Hyman Papers: MSS 84, the Kuper papers:MSS 250 and the Jeffries Papers MSS244 (not yet organised).

  John McIlroy
May 1998

Note: John McIlroy is a writer and lecturer researching the history of the left on Merseyside. He is a former member of the International Socialism, Workers Fight and Socialist Organiser groups. In addition to numerous articles, his recent books include The Permanent Revolution? Conservative Law and the Trade Unions (Nottingham 1991); Trade Unions in Britain To-day (Manchester 1995); and with Sally Westwood, Border Country:Raymond Williams in Adult Education (London 1993). An interview conducted by him on the work of Revolutionary History 'Saving our History from Academics and Sects' can be found in Workers' Liberty, No. 23 July 1995, pp 22-24.
(from Revolutionary History Vol. 6 No 2/3 page 106, which introduced a major article on the RCP the 1945 Docks Strike.)


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Last updated 11 May 1998