Indexing Labour History Review to create a research tool for labour historians

What started as a personal project to help navigate Labour History Review more easily has produced an invaluable tool for labour historians, as Mike Mecham explains.

As an Irish labour historian comparatively new to the field, I soon found Labour History Review to be an important research tool.  It not only published material on a wide range of themes but was international in its coverage. 

It also had longevity, first publishing as the Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History in 1960, before converting to the Review in 1990. 

During the subsequent sixty years it has offered a platform to every leading figure in the field, including early pioneers such Eric Hobsbawm, Dorothy and Edward Thompson, John Saville, and Asa Briggs. It has also been an important avenue for new researchers to get their work known. 

For such a rich archive, however, there appeared to be no comprehensive index available online. Several covering the early years of publication had appeared in hard copy, but were now out of print, and three more appeared in the Review itself – but that was some twenty years ago.

As much for my own benefit as anything else, I began to index Labour History Review volumes 75 to 85, covering the years 2010 to 2020. But it seemed a shame not to share the fruits of this work with others, and the Society was keen to publish it.

Having indexed the past decade’s worth of the Review (actually, a little more – it covers eleven years), I have now started work on the years 2000 to 2009, and this will also appear online before too long.

Indexes for the decades before that already exist in some form, and so work is also ongoing to add these to the resources available on our website.

Fortunately, John Halstead, a long-time stalwart and now Vice-President of the Society, still has copies of the indexes for issues 1-30 and 31-50, and we have been able to scan these to help complete the set. As an aside, John’s name first appears in what was then the Bulletin in 1968, reviewing ‘Pollbooks: How Victorians voted’ by J.R.Vincent. He was to be a regular presence in its pages thereafter.

So what started out as a personal endeavour to facilitate my own research developed, with the support and encouragement of colleagues in the Society, into something more extensive which will hopefully benefit other researchers in the field.  Moreover, besides publishing comprehensive indexes covering all sixty years it is our intention to publish annual indexes in the future.

Dr Mike Mecham, St Mary’s University, London

Collage of portrait photos showing well known early contributors to the SSLH Bulletin.
Early contributors to the Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History. Top, l-r, Margaret Cole, John Saville, Eric Hobsbawm; bottom, l-r, E.P. Thompson, Dorothy Thompson, Asa Briggs.

Find indexes for the Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History and Labour History Review.