Bishopsgate Institute

Located on the border of the City of London and the East End, Bishopsgate Institute holds numerous collections relating to London, labour, co-operation, humanism and protest and campaigning.

Bishopsgate Institute exterior in 1901
Bishopsgate Institute in 1901

Brief History
The Bishopsgate Institute was opened in 1895 using funds from charitable endowments made to the parish of St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate over 500 years, under a scheme agreed by the Charity Commissioners in 1891. The archives were initially assembled by the Institute’s first librarian, Charles Frederick Goss, but have been added to since and now consist of a variety of personal, organisational and other collections covering the history of the labour movement, co-operation, secularism and freethought, political and social history and the social, topographical and cultural history of London, particularly the East End, ranging from the early nineteenth century to the present day. The Library still seeks to collect archival material in these areas.

George Howell collection: c20,000 books and pamphlets on labour history, trade unionism and political and social history in the 19th and 20th centuries. Archives that include Howell’s own papers and the archives of the First International Working Men’s Association, the Reform League, Plimsoll Seaman’s Fund Committee, the TUC Parliamentary Committee and the Reform Demonstration Committee.

Labour History Collection: 10,000 books and 6,000 pamphlets, the collection covering Trade unions and labour relations, the Labour Party and affiliated organisations, Communism, Pacifism, Labour biography and Working conditions.

Bernie Grant Archive, over 70 boxes detailed the career and professional activities of Bernie Grant, Labour MP for Tottenham 1987-2000, and including the organisational archives of the Black Trade Unionists Solidarity Movement, the Parliamentary Black Caucus and the African Reparations Movement.

General Federation of Trade Unions Archive, including minutes, reports, publications and correspondence covering all areas of the GFTU’s activity from its formation in 1899 to the modern day.

Archives of historian Raphael Samuel and the History Workshop movement, including Samuel’s personal archive and the administrative archives of History Workshop, History Workshop Journal and New Left Review/Universities and Left Review.

Charles Bradlaugh and George Jacob Holyoake archive and libraries: including extensive books, pamphlets and archives concerning the development of liberalism, freethought and co-operation in the nineteenth century. The collections also contain extensive papers, pamphlets and publications by Annie Besant and Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner.

British Humanist Association and Rationalist Association collections, including books, archives and pamphlets concerning freethought and humanism from the late nineteenth to the present day.

Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive, containing over 200,000 press cuttings from the non-gay press regarding LGBT issues, 1890s to present, 2,500 books and pamphlets, and various campaigning materials including banners, t-shirts and badges.

Co-operative Movement Collection: including books, archives and pamphlets of the London Co-operative Society, Women’s Co-operative Guild and co-operation, both nationally and internationally, from the early nineteenth century to the modern day.

Freedom Press Library, a collection of books, pamphlets and periodicals on anarchism, on permanent loan from the Whitechapel publishers. The collection includes works by Guy Aldred, Mikhail Bakunin, Camillo Berneri, Murray Bookchin, Emma Goldman, Prince Kropotkin and Rudolf Rocker.

London Collection: c60,000 books and pamphlets, c20,000 photographs, 2.000 maps, press cuttings, oral histories and archives/ephemera concerning the social, cultural and topographical history of London in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Various other labour and radical archives, including the Morning Star Photographic Archive, Stop the War Coalition, Unite Against Fascism/Rock Against Racism, Index on Censorship, Republic and papers of communist and lawyer Jack Gaster, Labour MPs Ron Leighton and Eric Moonman, socialist Robert Barltrop, co-operator and Christian socialist Paul Derrick and many others.

Contact Details
230 Bishopsgate

Tel : 020 7392 9270
Web :
Link for OPAC :
Email :

Opening Times
Mon-Thurs 10am-5.30pm
Fri 10am-2pm
Sat 10am-5.30pm
Free Admission

Bishopsgate Institute is just two minutes walk from Liverpool Street mainline and underground stations. Bank, Moorgate and Aldgate tube stations are also close by.
Bishopsgate and the surrounding area are served by numerous major bus routes, including numbers 8, 26, 35, 42, 47, 48, 78, 149, 242, 344 and 388.

Access Details
Full disabled access.