History of History Workshop

History Workshop Pamphlets

History Workshop published a series of 13 pamphlets between 1970 and 1974, written by students at Ruskin College. A number of these began life as papers delivered to History Workshops in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The pamphlets frequently contained strong autobiographical elements, and covered a variety of topics including miners in County Durham, family life in Matabeleland, and the social and political history of Oxfordshire. They fitted firmly into the History Workshop ethos of worker-historians using primary sources to undertake research into the areas with which they were most familiar.

Several of the pamphlets, as well as some of the publicity for the History Workshops, were printed by the workers of Briant Colour Printing (BCP) in London during a ‘work-in’ in 1972-1973. The ‘work-in’ took place whilst employees at BCP occupied the print workshop following the issuing of redundancy notices, and continued to work whilst campaigning for a new owner to be found who would guarantee to carry on running the company with the existing staff. Although a new owner was ultimately found, the new owner made all of the employees redundant a few months later, having first secured the print workshop to ensure that the occupation could not be repeated. During the ‘work-in’, History Workshop was one of a number of left-wing organisations which commissioned work from BCP in order to express solidarity with the occupiers.

You can access all thirteen History Workshop pamphlets below:

History Workshop Pamphlets Number One : A Glossary of Railwaymen’s Talk: A Compendium of Slang Terms Old and New used by Railwaymen: Collected and Arranged by Frank McKenna, c. 1970.

History Workshop Pamphlet Number Two: St Giles Fair 1830 – 1914: Popular culture and the Industrial Revolution in 19th century Oxford, by Sally Alexander c. 1970.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Three: The Class Struggle in 19th Century Oxfordshire,  by Bernard Reaney, 1970.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Four: The Journeymen Coopers of East London, by Bob Gilding, 1971.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Five: Club Life and Socialism in Mid-Victorian London, by Stan Shipley, 1971.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Six: Pit Life in Co Durham: Rank and File Movements and Workers’ Control, by David Douglass, 1972.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Seven: From Self-Help to Glamour: The Working Man’s Club, 1860 – 1972, by John Taylor, 1972.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Eight: Whitsun in 19th Century Oxfordshire, by Alun Howkins, 1972.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Nine: Children’s Strikes in 1911, by Dave Marson, 1973.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Ten: Pit Talk in County Durham: A Glossary of Miner’s Talk with Memories of Wardley Colliery, Pit Songs and Piliking, by Dave Douglass, 1973.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Eleven: Country Girls in Nineteenth Century England, by Jennie Kitteringham, 1973.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Twelve: Big Mother & Little Mother in Matabeleland, by Edgar Moyo, 1973.

History Workshop Pamphlets Number Thirteen: A Play About the Children’s Strike of 1911. As Performed at the Half Moon Theatre, Whitechapel, 10th – 27th July 1973. By Billy Colville and Dave Marson, 1973.


  1. These are a wonderful series of pamphlets – and Stan Shipley’s in particular, looking at the lasting influence of the followers of Bronterre O’Brien in London’s radical clubs of the 1870s and 80s, influenced the shape of my own research. He wrote about the O’Brienite colony in Kansas, quite the most remarkable – and quixotic – of O’Brienite ventures. Stan’s pamphlet was later republished by, as I recall, the Journeyman Press.

  2. Stan Shipley’s 1971 HW pamphlet ‘Club Life and Socialism in mid-Victorian London’, 1983, was one of four pamphlets published jointly by Journeyman Press and the London History Workshop Centre.

    The others were Sally Alexander, Women’s Work in Nineteenth-century London: a Study of the Years 1820-1950 (from The Rights and Wrongs of Women, ed. Juliet Mitchell and Ann Oakley, 1976), 1983;

    ‘William Morris’s Socialist Diary’, ed. and annotated by Florence Boos, (from History Workshop Journal 13, spring 19820, 1985;

    Ken Weller, ‘”Don’t be a Soldier!”: the Radical Anti-War Movement in North London 1914-1918, 1985.

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  4. No history of the workshop pamphlets can be complete without mentioning the tireless work by Bob Gilding Fielding, who ran the sales and distribution of the pamphlets from his front room .

    Terry McCarthy

  5. Is it still possible to buy some of the pamphlets? Is there a comprehensive list somewhere?
    Were there any pamphlets addressing historiography itself, rather than a local study?
    Can a history student (O.U. ) subscribe to teh journal now? (2020) I am finding it hard to access sources with so many libraries and record offices closed, so am having to depend upon secondary source material.

  6. Wasn’t Ralph Samuel’s a big part of this? Seem to recall his name when I was at Ruskin (76-78). It was ‘hot-bed’ then, not so much now I hear but then what is. Salud all and keep your powder dry! Bill

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