The National Liberal Club Pamphlets have been with the University Library since 1977. At that time the Club, in London, was facing financial difficulties, and let it be known that it wanted to sell off its library. It had been formed in the nineteenth century to provide a central location for Liberals throughout the United Kingdom, to promote Liberal interests, and also "to found a political and historical library, to be called the Gladstone Library, as a permanent memorial to the services which the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone has rendered the country". Over the years the Gladstone Library built up an impressive collection, which became important primary source material for those researching the area of modern history.
In September 1998 a three year project, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, completed the work of cataloguing these pamphlets first begun in 1977. Over 27,000 pamphlets have been added to the Library's Library Search system. The vast majority of these are kept in the Library's remote Research Reserve and can be ordered at the Arts and Social Sciences Library counter. Items that were particularly old, valuable, or of outstanding academic worth are housed in the Library's Special Collections Department, and are restricted to the Library.
The collection ranges in date from the late eighteenth century to the mid 1970s, but is especially strong on nineteenth century commerce, economics, finance, politics, religion and sociology. The pamphlets include publications by and about the Labour and Conservative Parties, in addition to those of the Liberals. To give some further details, we have material on early railways, Indian affairs, Irish nationalism and Home Rule, Gladstone, free trade, contagious diseases, vaccination, sanitation, Bradlaugh, marriage law reform, vivisection, and many other topics. From the twentieth century, amongst other subjects, are tracts by and about the League of Nations, pamphlets from the Spanish Civil War, the writings of Kim Il Sung, leaflets produced by the Air Raids Precautions Department in the 1930s, and details on all aspects of French life issued in English by the French Embassy in London in the 1960s/1970s. Also we inherited a number of election addresses, dating from 1892, and from this stems our on-going commitment to collect general election material, these being kept in the Special Collections Department. This is the largest such collection, having a broad coverage, and has been consulted by historians, journalists and politicians.
View images of Bristol Selected Pamphlets 1800-1898, digitised by JSTOR as part of their 19th Century British Pamphlets Project.
Visit Special Collections' Election Addresses webpage.
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