Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Labour Party Archives

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The occasion was a talk on The Labour Party Archives, 1919 - 2014. It was sponsored by the Irish Society for Archives and given by Ross Higgins, the Labour Party Archivist, at the Dublin City Library and Archive on 2/12/2014.

Ross outlined the contents of the the archives which are quite varied but unfortunately include a 25 year gap as a result of a fire. The archives were presented to the National Library of Ireland by the Labour Party and are currently being catalogued.

How, you might ask, could the Library take on this extra task given the current cutbacks in funding and services. Well, the answer is cooperation. The Labour Party, as well as presenting the archives, also agreed to fund a post to have them catalogued. The post was competitive and advertised and Ross got it.

Certainly, on the basis of his presentation and his stunning performance in the Q&A session, they got the right person for the job. He's been at it now for a year and a half and expects to finish next Spring.

There is a lot of valuable research material in the archives, much of it pre-processed, so to speak, in the form of the party's annual reports, for example. And these reports are quite comprehensive, bringing together information which would be difficult to collate otherwise.

When the archives are catalogued, they will represent, along with other material such as that held by the Irish Labour History Society, an invaluable social/political history resource.

The cataloguing is only the first stage. The material then needs to be analysed, possibly in conjunction with other sources, and then written up. Some potential PhD candidates in the social and political sciences should now be sharpening their pencils for a foray into this excellent thesis material.

Full marks to the Labour Party, the National Library of Ireland and the Dublin City Library and Archive for creating this great resource and for publicising it.

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