Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

October 2021

Blog category
Opening text

60 Years of SLHS – 30 Years of SWPHT
The joint anniversary celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Scottish Labour History Society (SLHS) and 30th anniversary of the Scottish Working People’s History Trust (SWPHT), in conjunction with the National Library of Scotland (NLS), will take place on St Andrew’s Day, Tuesday 30th November, in an online format. Hosted by NLS, the event will be introduced by former editors of Scottish Labour History, Hamish Fraser (1969-74) and Ian Wood (1975-87), and feature presentations and a discussion on oral history, with Dr Ewan Gibbs (Glasgow University), Caroline Milligan (Edinburgh University) and Dr Valerie Wright (Stirling University). Preparations continue for the inaugural Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture, scheduled to take place next April.

New Lanark Living Legacy Conference Postponed
New Lanark Trust has postponed its New Lanark 2021: A Living Legacy conference, announcing that it will now take place from Tuesday 1st–Thursday 3rd March 2022, with the same programme. However, the John Pearce Memorial Lecture, set for Tuesday 12th October, will still take place, with Lesley Riddoch as speaker. This is a free, hybrid event and individuals can register for it at Anyone having booked a ticket, who can no longer attend, should let the organisers know as this could affect the capacity for the event.

Acknowledging Canadian Historian Bryan D Palmer
Athabasca University Press has published a volume of essays on Canadian historian Bryan D Palmer, who is perhaps best known in Britain for his book on E P Thompson. Palmer’s work has influenced labour history, social history, discourse analysis, communist history and Canadian history, and Dissenting Traditions: Essays on Bryan D Palmer, Marxism, and History, edited by Sean Carleton, Ted McCoy & Julia Smith, brings together material by his contemporaries, students and critics. The book is on open access at

Working Class Movement Library Online Talks
6th October, 2pm-3pm: Frank Palmeri, professor of English at Miami University will speak on Thomas Spence: Satirist, Utopian, Socialist. Spence, recognised as the most important socialist thinker of the 1790s, was a strong satirist of aristocracy and land-holders, and the talk will consider him as satirist and utopian writer and conclude by considering parallels with William Morris.
20th October, 2pm-3pm: Peter John Fyles will speak on The Real SDF–Rank and File Branch Activities and Responses in Lancashire, 1884-1918. Fyles has undertaken the first detailed local study of the Social Democratic Federation, questioning old historiography, and providing evidence that leisure and commercialism, more than socialist in-fighting, were the major hindrances to SDF and socialist success. The talks are part of WCML’s Invisible Histories series, and will be live-streamed, with sign-up details at on the day of the talk/s.

Socialism in the English-speaking Caribbean: Call for Papers
The Socialist History Society, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Society for Caribbean Studies are planning a series of online research seminars, exploring the commonalities and differences of the socialisms of the English-speaking Caribbean, with a view to publishing selected seminar papers in Socialist History – see for more details. Papers of 5,000-10,000 words are invited and proposals (of <500 words) should be sent to by 15th November. Authors of the selected papers will be invited to revise them for a special issue of Socialist History.

Piston, Pen & Press
This AHRC-funded project, led by the University of Strathclyde and beginning in September 2018, has explored how industrial workers in Scotland and Northern England, from c1840 to c1910, engaged with literary culture through writing, reading and discussion. The project has been recovering their activities through archival research, and working with museum and library partners to make the findings available. Miners, railway workers and textile workers have been the main areas of study. More information at

Material for future newsletters should be sent to