Nuffield College Library is participating in the First World War centenary by showing you material that the library holds from this period and about the Great War. There will be a series of posts each week leading up to the 28th July, when the war began, beginning this week with the library’s Trade Union and Political Party material.
The library has a considerable Trade Union and Political Party collection on the 7th floor. Some of the material dates back to the years of the First World War and gives an impression of how the war affected organisations and people’s lives.
David Lloyd George of the Liberal Party succeeded Herbert Henry Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916 and formed the Wartime Coalition Government. The library holds pamphlets and leaflets of the Liberal Party from 1903-1929 (and later 1946-1985), which include Acts, speeches, and leaflets on the development of the war. The 1914 volume contains Lloyd George’s speech, given when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, “Through Terror
to Triumph” at Queen’s Hall, London, in which he discusses the recruitment campaign for the war. It was also under Lloyd George that women won the right to vote for the first time in 1918.
Looking at some of the Political Party material that the library holds, we can see how companies and organisations struggled through the war. The Postman’s Gazette from June 8th 1918 describes how the war came at a time when the Postman’s Federation was being reorganised and new machines were being set up, which were delayed. Men were sent to war, which initially decreased staffing numbers but later saw temporary workers employed. The publication also details the Relief Fund, set up to provide money and employment for widows and orphans of Post Office staff.
Also in the Trade Union collection is The Association of Tax Surveying Officers Quarterly Record. In the 1915 volume the editorial discusses the increase of income tax to support wartime expenditure: “the National war-chest, when war is forced upon us, is not to be drained until the nation has given its all” (p. 4). In the 1919 volume, by which time the war has ended, looks at the restructuring of staff as male surveyors and clerks return home. They hoped to keep the female clerks, who were recruited during the war while men were fighting, and that returning soldiers would take on more senior positions to relieve staff of additional burdens created during the war. There is also discussion of income tax and how to proceed in order to reflect modern developments in finance, commerce, and industry.
The Trade Union and Political Party collection offers an insight into life during the war with titles that were published in the midst of battle, as opposed to modern texts written retrospectively. Details of titles the library holds are available on the library website. In the next couple of weeks will be blog posts on the library’s archive material and textbooks relating to the First World War.
The Bodleian Library is also participating in the First World War centenary with an exhibition and talks.