Microform Academic Publishers: British Online Archives



Miscellaneous individuals


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Miscellaneous individuals

CP/IND/MISC. A wide range of smaller deposits are grouped here, among them an impressive collection of unpublished memoirs. These include materials of interest to historians of trade union activism, for example those of the London railway union activist, Jock Nicholson, and of one of the CPGB's large cadre force within the engineering industry, Bill McElroy. Mick Jenkins, another autobiographer, became a CPGB district secretary in the East Midlands; but perhaps the most interesting chapters of his autobiography describe the making of a young Jewish communist in his native Manchester. For historians of Jewish communism, there is a further important source in the shape of David Goldinger's autobiography, available in his original Yiddish as well as English. This recounts Goldinger's Lithuanian childhood and his service in the Tsar's armies, as well as his later involvement in the Jewish Workers' Circle and tailoring unions. There is also an unpublished biography of Helen Crawfurd, the Clydeside suffragist and ILPer who joined the CPGB on its formation, played a leading role in Workers' International Relief and was a member of the CPGB's Central Committee until her marginalisation in 1929. Idris Cox, one of the most important Welsh communists of the inter-war years, has left a shorter autobiography. For many years Cox was the CPGB's Welsh district organiser, and subsequently he worked at King Street as secretary of the International Department. E.R. Pountney, technically the proprietor of the Daily worker, left several files of documents relating to the paper as well as another of the autobiographies.

Perhaps the best-known of these mostly unpublished authors was the communist autodidact Tommy Jackson: party maverick, author of works on dialectics and Charles Dickens, and famously in need of a wash, a comb and a coat hanger. Readers of Jackson's wonderful early memoirs, Solo trumpet, will discover that its unpublished sequel, Interim report, shows many of the constraints and evasions that historical writing about the CPGB itself usually involved. There are also typescripts of the published memoirs of D.N. Pritt, the Labour MP expelled from that party for his pro-Soviet stance in 1940 and subsequently re-elected against official Labour opposition in 1945. Though Pritt never formally joined the CPGB, the memoirs were published in 1965-6 by the 'party' publishers Lawrence & Wishart, which gives an accurate enough picture of his political allegiances. However, Pritt's memoirs are, by and large, not very revealing and show little of the communists' supposed penchant for self-criticism. Other papers of Pritt's are held by the British Library of Political and Economic Science.

Other groups of papers relate to particular political or intellectual interests of their depositors. Marian Ramelson, wife of Bert Ramelson, was a pre-war Yorkshire district organiser of the CPGB, having previously attended the Lenin School. Her papers in the archive relate to her activities in the women's movement (including a notebook and diary as delegate to the Conference of Women of Asia in December 1949) and the historical researches on the women's suffrage movement, on which she was to draw for her book, Petticoat rebellion. The papers of Glyn Evans include a precious documentation relating to the Workers' Welfare League of India. Correspondence deposited by Brian Pearce and Christopher (Kit) Meredith provides a vivid insight into the opinions and expectations of younger CPGB members around the end of the Second World War.

Another deposit from an older socialist tradition is the small collection relating to John Lincoln Mahon, a steadfast follower of H.M. Hyndman and father of his namesake, the CPGB's future London organiser. The papers mainly date from after Hyndman's break with the internationalist majority of the British Socialist Party (BSP) in 1916 and document Mahon's involvement with the unfortunately named National Socialist Party and "Kill Bolshevism" fund.





Labour History Archive and Study Centre