Check out what’s in the attic: workers’ coop records need preserving

I had an interesting couple of days last week in Brussels looking at the original minute books of the executive of the International Co-operative Alliance.  The records date back to 1892, three years before the ICA’s founding Congress in London in 1895.  My thanks to the ICA team for making the visit very useful.

My Brussels foray constituted the very last part of a research exercise which I’ve been engaged on more or less since Christmas, as part of work for a book I’;m writing on productive coops (= workers coops) of the nineteenth century.  These early manufacturing coops are a very interesting, but very neglected, part of our coop heritage. Be warned, you can expect me to say a lot more on the subject here next year, in the run-up to the book launch.  (The book now has to be written, and is scheduled for summer 2015 publication.)

But in the meantime I want to highlight a more recent period of cooperative history, the workers’ coop movement of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.  It’s vital that as much as possible of the raw material from this very creative period (all the minute books, the correspondence, the account books and the other material which historians rely on) is saved.

If you were involved in the workers’ coop movement, or in the local Cooperative Development Agency network of the same period, I hope you’ll want to take an interest in the Workers Coop Archive project, which is just starting up now.  You’ll find all the background at the dedicated website at http://www.workerscoopsarchive.wordpress.com/

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