Friday, December 18, 2015

Into the New year...

For those of a wake-me-when-it's-over disposition vis-à-vis the season, here are a few events to come.

WCML (Working Class Movement Library, Salford) -
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent,
Salford, M5 4WX

To End All Wars - 
an exhibition to mark the centenary of the introduction of conscription
A new exhibition opened at the Library on Friday 20 November. To End All Wars examines how local men opposed military conscription, introduced into Britain for the first time in 1916, and how local women developed organisations to agitate for peace.
The north-west had a vigorous anti-war movement from 1914 onwards. This exhibition looks at some of those involved, both men and women, who fought for peace. Bill Chadwick from Westhoughton and Hugh Hutchinson from Bolton, whose stories were previously known only to their families, can now take their place amongst more famous names. Documents from the Hyde branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship, a unique collection held by the Library, are also on display. This is an alternative narrative of the war that deserves to be remembered as much as we commemorate those who fought and died.
The exhibition is open Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5 pm, and will run until Easter 2016.  
A specially-written 'Living History' performance, No Power on Earth, will accompany the exhibition thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. This tells the story of James Hindle Hudson, a Salford conscientious objector.  The 30-minute free performance can be seen at the Library on Wednesday 2 March at 1pm and Saturday 5 March at 2pm, and at Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Sunday 21 February at 2pm.  It will also be put on in Salford schools during February.
The exhibition and Living History performance are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
There will be another series of Invisible Histories talks, including two linked to our WW1 exhibition.
On Saturday 6 February at 2pm we will celebrate LGBT History Month with a talk by Helen Smith from the University of Lincoln, 'It's queer up north? Working class men and same-sex desire in the North of England'.  And on Saturday 5 March at 2pm we mark International Women's Day with a talk by Catriona Burness, 'Remembering Mary Barbour - social reformer, rent strike leader, women's peace crusader and pioneering woman councillor'.
Keep an eye on for more details. 

LGBT History Month
Saturday 6 February 2pm
Helen Smith, University of Lincoln - with readings by Mike Joyce
It’s Queer Up North? Working Class Men and Same-Sex Desire in the North of England

In this talk, Helen will be delving into the lives and loves of working class men in the north throughout the twentieth century. Throughout her research she has uncovered many stories that had been lost and because of this, gives an alternative history of same-sex desire.
Mike Joyce, ex-Smiths drummer, has more recently been developing his acting and reading career - not least by kindly appearing in Library fundraisers!
Admission free; light refreshments afterwards.

International Women’s Day
Saturday 5 March 2pm
Catriona Burness
Remembering Mary Barbour - social reformer, rent strike leader, women's peace crusader and pioneering woman councillor
Mary Barbour worked tirelessly to change laws to help families in poverty.  Her capacity to mobilise working class families, especially women, to challenge the power of landlords and the state during the 1915 Govan rent strike led to the passing of one of Europe’s first rent restriction acts.  She also fought for free school milk, children’s playgrounds, municipal wash-houses, and an end to slum housing.
This event will also feature a discussion on current related issues. Admission free; light refreshments afterwards.

Invisible Histories talks
A new series of free Wednesday afternoon talks will begin in March.  Full details at

2 March 2pm Tom Besford  Rapper dance - its creation and what it meant to working communities

16 March 2pm Chloe Mason Justice for Alice Wheeldon!

30 March 2pm Cyril Pearce Communities of resistance: patterns of dissent in Britain during the First World War

13 April 2pm Robin Stocks Manchester volunteers in the Easter Rising

27 April 2pm Richard Milward – Luddites’ Nightmares

Jim Allen retrospective
A Jim Allen retrospective season takes place at Manchester's Home from 9 to 31 January.  It includes screenings of The Spongers (with accompanying Q&A with producer Tony Garnett), The Lump, The Big Flame, Raining Stones and Days of Hope.  
Jim Allen (1926-1999) was a socialist writer of international significance, who made a major contribution to British TV drama in the 1960s and 1970s and to British film in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Library is very pleased to house the Jim Allen archive, which his family have kindly entrusted to us. The archive includes books, videos, scripts (produced and non-produced) and other material. The Library welcomes deposits of new material from anybody who knew or worked with Jim. More information at

Call Mr Robeson

If you've not seen Call Mr Robeson, Tayo Aluko's bravura retelling of the activist life of Paul Robeson in words and song - or if you enjoyed so much you'd like to see it again - Tayo is performing it at Bolton Socialist Club on Friday 29 January.  More details and ticket enquiries: 07966 136169.

Tayo is also putting on a concert on Saturday 23 January at 7.30pm at the Quaker Meeting House in Liverpool to mark the 40th anniversary of Paul Robeson's death. He will be accompanied by Liverpool Socialist Singers and Birmingham Clarion Singers - details here.

'People Make Their Own History' WEA course
A ten-week Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) course, People Make Their Own History, starts 11 January between 1 and 3pm at the People's History Museum, Manchester.  The course will cover Peterloo and the Chartists; the struggles over jobs, against Fascism, and for access to the countryside in the1930s; fighting Section 28 and for LGBT rights in the 1980s; to Stop the War, and the protests against the Bedroom Tax, and at the Conservative Party Conference in 2015.  More details here.
Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or 
booking online via WEA’s Web site.  Please quote course ref C3838091. Cost: £65.10 or free (please enquire).


Wakefield Socialist History Group
Next event:
Saturday 13 February 2016, 1 p.m. 
at the Red Shed (Wakefield Labour Club).
(One confirmed speaker so far).  

Our next meeting is on Saturday 13 February, 1pm 
at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 
Ian Brooke and Steve Freeman have agreed to speak.
Clifford Slapper from the SPGB is now not able to make the event.
(We are looking for a third speaker.) 


Day School on the History and Future of the Labour Party.
Labour Party: Where's it been? Where's it going?

It's time to sign up for one of our Day Schools.
Places are limited. Email

Saturday 23rd January, Northern College, Barnsley, Yorkshire
£25 or
Saturday 6th February, Ruskin House, Croydon, South London
£20 (Concessions may be available)

Both events include lunch. 10.30 - 4.00.
There will be presentations and lots of discussion, covering
the foundation of the Labour Party, issues about staying or
leaving, 1945 and all that, and where we are at with Labour
- old and new - and Jeremy Corbyn. 

Attendance will have to be First Come/First Served as places
are limited. Full details will be sent to attendees.

London Socialist Historians seminars Spring Term 2016
Newly published research in socialist history

Mon January 25th The Life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett -  Rosie MacGregor. "Rosie MacGregor will speak on her biography of Angela Gladwell Tuckett. Tuckett was the first female solicitor in Bristol, a pilot, England hockey player and Communist Party activist."

Mon February 8th The Politics of Public Space in Nineteenth Century England - Katrina Navickas

Mon February 22nd Paris at War, 1939-1944 - David Drake

Mon March 7th Clara Zetkin, Letters & Writings -  Ben Lewis

All seminars are at 5.30pm in Room 304 Institute of Historical Research. All welcome.

LSHG Conference - The Irish Easter Rising
Institute of Historical Research, London
Date: 30 April 2016, 12 noon

 A number of speakers will address the significance of the Rising
on its 100th anniversary. Here John Newsinger sets the scene. 
"On 24 April 1916, Easter Monday, a force of some 900 Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army members seized control of the centre of Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic. They held out against the British army until the deployment of artillery forced their unconditional surrender on the 29th. By this time 64 rebel fighters had been killed, together with 132 soldiers and police and some 250 civilians, many shot out of hand by the troops. In the context of the horrors of the First World War, this was a minor episode, the death of some 450 people at a time when hundreds of thousands were being slaughtered on the  
Western Front. Indeed, there were at the time considerably more Irishmen fighting for the British in France than took part in the Rising. Nevertheless, the Rising had an impact out of all proportion to the numbers involved, the damage suffered and the casualties inflicted. It prepared the way for the triumph of Sinn Fein in 1918 and for the War of Independence and the Civil War that followed. A hundred years later, the rebels are generally celebrated as heroes but important questions remain. Did the they believe they had a realistic chance of success in the face of apparently overwhelming odds or was their rebellion a self-conscious blood sacrifice intended to keep the spirit of republicanism alive? How much popular support did the Rising have at the time? How significant was their alliance with Imperial Germany? What was the attitude of the British left, both revolutionary and reformist, to the Rising? Did Labour MPs really cheer the news of the execution of the rebel leadership in the Commons? What part did women play in the Rising? And what of James Connolly? Was his participation, indeed his leadership role, in the Rising, the fulfilment of his socialist politics or an abandonment of them? What was the significance of his membership of the Irish Republican Brotherhood? Did Connolly really argue that the British would not use artillery because of the damage it would cause to capitalist property? Did he tell the Citizen Army men and women to hold onto their rifles because they were out for social freedom and not just political freedom or is this just a myth invented years later? What became of Connolly’s socialism after his death? Why was the socialist presence in the War of Independence so easily contained, indeed marginalised? For Sean O’Casey, Connolly had forsaken his socialist commitment in favour of republicanism and the only genuine socialist martyr of Easter Week was Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. What was the impact of Sheehy-Skeffington’s murder at the hands of British troops on opinion in Britain? How important was Catholicism to the rebel fighters? Even Connolly was reconciled with the Church before his execution and privately urged his Protestant wife to convert as a dying wish. And the only Protestant in the rebel leadership, Constance Markiewicz herself subsequently converted. There are a host of questions still to be explored and debated while at the same time honouring the memory of those who died fighting the British Empire."

Socialist History Society lectures

Free to attend

Saturday 23 January 2016
Willie Thompson speaks on The Forces that Shaped our History. Willie will discuss themes covered in his latest book, Work, Sex and Power: The Forces that Shaped Our History
Saturday 2.00 pm. 
Venue: Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green. London EC1R 0DU. 
Free admission, retiring collection

Saturday 19 March 2016, 2pm
Sylvia Pankhurst, the Easter Rising and Women's Dreadnought 
Professor John Newsinger
Venue: Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green. London EC1R 0DU. 
Free admission, retiring collection

LGBT History Month
LGBT HM is celebrated in February in the UK but our work to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia continues throughout the year. Our interactive calendar is also all-year-round so check it out or add an LGBT related event of your own.
This year [2015] our theme was Hidden Histories and Coded Lives. In 2016 our theme will be Religion, Belief and Philosophy. In 2017 we will look at Citizenship, PSHE and Law as we mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.
We celebrated Valentine’s weekend in February by hosting the first ever UK LGBT History Festival in 3 locations in Manchester: The Central Library, The People’s Museum and the LGF Centre. To visit the site go here. To see broadcasts of the event from LGBTV go here
Following the massive success of the first ever LGBT History Festival to be held in the UK, Schools OUT UK is presenting 6 festivals over LGBT History Month in 2016. The festivals cover several regions in England and will cover popular LGBT history presentations by experts in their field, as well as having a presentations for teachers and schools. 
The third ‘What is & How to Do LGBT History: Methods, Subjects and Approaches’ conference [in Manchester] is part of the second National Festival of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans* History that will run throughout the month of February, which has been designated since 2005 as LGBT History Month (UK).
New Year message from Past Tense:

Two technological developments:
1. Not sure if we mentioned it, but past tense is now on twitter (groans from many directions no doubt). It has its uses... If you want to follow us we are @_pasttense_

2. We have a new wordpress blog; the aim of which will be to complement or maybe gradually replace (if possible) our existing website, which has become a bit of an albatross, for one reason or another.   {Already featuring "On this Day" pieces]

We are also in the midst of thinking about how past tense goes forward as a project... We're thinking of holding
a social/discussion event soon, to talk about the future of the past...

Public History Discussion group
Archiving the unlawful: collecting, but concealing, suppressed material in a University library'with speaker Dr. Richard Espley 
Saturday 16th January in room 6.12 at UCL's Institute of Archaeology.
More information please here: 

We will be serving tea and coffee from 11:00 in room 6.09. The talk will start promptly at 11:30, lasting until lunchtime (about 13:00).

Future dates for your diary:
Saturday 13th February: 
Commemorating Anti-Racism: The origins of the C.L.R. James Library in Dalston, Hackney. Dr. Christian Hogsbjerg 
Saturday 19th MarchWalk – bombs in BloomsburyDr Gabriel Moshenska 

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