Help preserve the Marx Memorial Library socialist newspaper archive

Ninety years of socialist newspaper history is at risk from the ravages of time. Meirian Jump, Archivist & Library Manager at the Marx Memorial Library, explains how you can help.

The Marx Memorial Library is the proud custodian of a complete archive of the Daily Worker/Morning Star newspaper dating back to the first issue in January 1930.

For decades copies of the paper have been carefully stowed away in our basement, bound in large volumes of three to four months and embossed with gold lettering. This treasure trove is one of our most often used archives. Activists, students, family historians, authors and many more visit our reading room to look at this paper of record of the British labour movement.

Through the pages we can trace socialist coverage of trade union disputes, struggles for colonial liberation, campaigns against racism and sexism and much more.

They are a favourite component of our school workshop programme on subjects ranging from soviet space travel to anti-fascism through history. 

However, newsprint – inherently ephemeral – is printed cheaply on paper which acidifies quickly. Preserving these historical resources is a challenge. While large swathes of the collection are now digitised, there is nothing quite like the tangible original. 

The pages touched by history bring historic events and movements to life for new generations accustomed to a world of social media and screens. 

Happenstance browsing of a hard copy issue – rather than word searching online – gives greater context and replicates the experience of the reader through time.

Our 2019 Collections Care Audit funded by the Association of Independent Museums included the boxing of our newspaper archive as a top priority. Preparing for this important project, we have since had teams of young volunteers working on the meticulous job of carefully cleaning these volumes and measuring them. 

This means we will be able to purchase bespoke study acid free boxes produced by our neighbours at London Metropolitan Archives. This will transform their preservation and our ability to handle the volumes without causing additional damage.

We are asking our friends and supporters to sponsor a box for £15, a year for £60, or even a decade for £600 and help us preserve this unique piece of history for generations to come. 

Why not select a birth date, anniversary, significant year or formative decade? With a customised dedication in each box, this would make an ideal gift.

Donors will receive an invitation to a thank-you reception marking the ninetieth year since our foundation in 1933 next year. You will also benefit from a label crediting your support on each box; the memory of your gift will be nestled in the MML’s archive stores forever.

We need around £5,000 to box the collection spanning 1930-2010 and already raised £700 in the first 24 hours of our social media campaign. Snap up your significant date while you still can!

Show your support here.