Solfed/DAM/SWF archives - Help with acronyms

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Between Your Teeth
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Aug 5 2012 18:53
Solfed/DAM/SWF archives - Help with acronyms

I've been periphally involved with a Sparrows' Nest project to help catalogue a great chunk of correspondence of various post war UK anarcho-syndicalist groups. Namely the Syndicalist Workers' Federation, Direct Action Movement and Solidarity Federation. As part of this project there's been a substantial glossary/collection of keywords produced. However there's a number of acronyms we haven't been able to identify.

They could be anything. Union, organisation, party, group, organisation etc. It'd be great if we could crowdsource the libcom hivemind to help fill in the blanks below. These acronyms are:

ACT
ARP
ATT
CAM
CC
CLC
CW
EL
GWU
IRM
ITCU
NCLC
NELAG
NWS
RSG
SL
SRL
SWI
UAG
CIA (a british political group?)
ESE (a british trade union)
GEB (a british trade union)
DATA (a british trade union)

Also standing reminder that if you're old, approaching oldness, or may one day be old, then please consider gifting us your archives, lest it ends up as landfill (like most of it does).

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Steven.
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Aug 5 2012 20:44

Some context here might be useful in terms of how these acronyms were used?

Also, you guys have plans to scan this stuff?

martinh
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Aug 5 2012 21:01

Context would help, but I would guess that EL and SL mean East London and South London, likewise CAM could well be Cambridge DAM. SWI might be SWL, i.e. SW London as there used to be a SW London DAM.

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Aug 5 2012 22:34
Steven. wrote:
Some context here might be useful in terms of how these acronyms were used?

Also, you guys have plans to scan this stuff?

OK. So as it stands there is currently 1164 documents scanned into the collection covering the period 1944-1975, with the majority originating from the 1959-1963 period. 88% of these documents are letters. These could be anything from requests for solidarity, gossip, requests for subscriptions, subs payments. Here's an example of one of the scanned letters below:

As I understand it, the stuff is scanned but is currently awaiting a server upgrade before being put on-line. Catalogue details and jpgs of the scanned documents themselves are stored in an Access database. As a stopgap I think that basically the Access file is going to be put on-line to be downloaded. Unfortunately there's currently an IT skills gap when it comes to doing anything beyond that.

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Aug 6 2012 10:36

Cool, thanks for the info.

Libcom would be happy to help in terms of hosting documents or whatever - we are always keen to expand our library (and we are backed up and archived by the British Library so even if something catastrophic happened with the site, or we are all dead in 100 years the content will still be there)

andy g
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Aug 6 2012 13:17

NCLC – maybe National Caucus of Labour Committees?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Caucus_of_Labor_Committees

ICTU - Irish Congress of Trade Unions or it could be a mis-transcription of ICFTU - International Confederation of Free Trad Unions ?

RSG - could be a mis-transcription of SRG - Socialist Review Group ?

GWU - should this have been GMWU General and Municipal Workers Union ?

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Between Your Teeth
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Aug 6 2012 20:46

steven cheers, i'll pass that on.

andy g thanks for your best guesses. i'll see if i can dig out some more context for people.

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Aug 7 2012 13:46

D.A.T.A.

Had some pals, draughtsmen (they worked in a drawing office attached to an engineering factory), who were members of DATA. It was I think affiliated to the AEU. They were very well organised (and as a result relatively well paid).

Quote:
‘But is the stereotype of white collar unions ("prepared to collaborate with employers" . . . "conservative by conditioning" . . . "bureaucratic mentality") (14) as less militant, less politically committed, justified? One meets, in fact, a range of trade union attitudes, just as among the unions of manual workers. The only British trade union that has had a coherent strategy on strike action, and a very successful one, (15) is the Draughtsmen- which occupationally may be considered in the white collar field.’

‘…It should not go unnoticed that it was D.A.T.A., the union which more than any other in Britain can be said to have had a consistent strike strategy used as an adjunct to its bargaining, which found itself caught up in litigation. D.A.T.A's use of strikes was connected with the fact that its wage bargaining was conducted at the level of the firm rather than that of the industry; thus it could support from its funds even prolonged strikes at individual firms. Its success has now led the employers to accept the need for industry-wide bargaining in engineering and shipbuilding. Thus D.A.T.A may well join the ranks of other British unions in being very disinclined to use the strike to back industry-wide bargaining, because of its heavy expense.
But this does not mean that the issue of the legality of strikes is unimportant.’

From British Trade Unionism in the Sixties by John Hughes (Socialist Register, 1966)

TheSmallMole
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Aug 8 2012 11:15

Hello everyone!
I am one of the persons involved in processing said collection for the Sparrows' Nest collective.
Thanks to all for the interest and the contributions, does already fill quite a few of the gaps in our (massive) list of acronyms.
To give you a bit more info (and sorry this may repeat some of the above): Said materials are part of "Ron’s Collection" (named after the person who rescued the stuff), one of the many different archival collections held at the Sparrow’s Nest. Ron’s Collection primarily contains internal documents such as letters or conference materials, recording activities of the Anarchist Federation of Britain (AFB), which subsequently became the Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF). This collection has recently been crucially supplemented when the Solidarity Federation entrusted us with another sizeable archival collection, containing among many other materials numerous newspapers and pamphlets which tie in with Ron’s Collection.
Together these collections provide researchers with fascinating opportunities as they contain many unique records documenting the activities of syndicalists and other radicals from Britain and around the world.
There are a few reasons why I think the collections, especially Ron's collection are so cool and important: Firstly they contain sources mostly dating from 1944-64. Whereas much has been written and talked about events during the years of Spanish Revolution as well as events during the iconic summer of 1968, it seems to me that the years in between have largely been overlooked. These documents can be used to reexamine what I think was a fascinating period. Secondly, the stuff offers information not only about a bunch of syndicalist in Britain but there is correspondence from and to people in 25 countries, referring to a total of 195 groups, parties, splinter groups etc. (which is where all those acronyms come from!).
Many of the documents were letters by subscribers of papers such as World Labour News. Usually they say why they were late with paying their subs wink before giving some info what they have been up to/what happened in their area. Therefore the docs are marvellous sources about groups and their activities (e.g. involvement in strikes - both wildcat and "official" and anti-fascist work - for instance against Franco's regime), on individuals, their thoughts, actions, motivations, living and working conditions etc. and of course a libertarian perspective on events of the day (e.g. Cold War and arms race, Cuba, Hungary, introduction of welfare systems etc.). And of course as always there are loads of materials demonstrating that a history of a bunch of revolutionaries is usually also a history of mutual hatred, containing lots of gossip!
As mentioned, there are 1.164 documents in Ron's Collection which were processed. In case of this collection processing meant taking heaps of papers stored in carrier bags and old cardboard folders, smoothing them carefully, getting rid of any bits of cellar tape and nasty bits of rusting metal. The documents were then scanned, catalogued and sorted and are now stored in acid free archival boxes.
Both the catalogued information as well as the scanned materials themselves will hopefully be online soon, the offer of hosting them is fab and it would be great if we can have a chat about this (could you please email us to discuss it properly?) as our current server is crap and we are unsure when we can change it.
There was a small fraction of the materials already online but said crap server munched them. As pointed out above, a massive problem is that at the moment is that the database is all office based, i.e. a massive spreadsheet with hyperlinks to jpgs. Although extensive data has been catalogued (e.g. senders, recipients, dates, keywords, cross-referencing info amongst various records), it is yet unsolved how we can present the data and the images in a truly user friendly way. Any suggestions welcome of course!
In any case, thanks again for the interest. We will try our utmost to get the stuff out there as soon as possible for interested people to browse and research.
We recently did a small event in Nottingham to present the collections and are planning to run the same session at the London bookfair, so hopefully see you there!

no1
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Aug 8 2012 11:31

amazing!

TheSmallMole
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Aug 8 2012 12:32

Just published a report on the event in Nottingham introducing the collections.
http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2723
Not much more info than in the (very long - sorry) article above but pdfs with further examples, info on the database, the complete list of the acronyms etc.

syndicalist
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Aug 8 2012 15:49

This seems amazing. I've got a few items from AFB, SWF, National Rank & File Movement that are, no doubt, part of that collection. They are really amazing from an historical perspective.
And to see the sort of campaigns and activities that occured in the late and post-WWII period

Of course I'm Stateside so I prolly miss alot of the nuances which appear in this stuff. Reading how there was stilll many self-educated working class anarchists about .... and mass meetings held...are amazing. I think, what I'll call, the "transitional" years (1950s,1960s) are informative.
The title of the display captures what occured in the British movement during this period. Old
industrial militants and younger "ban the bomb" activists seeking to engage & work with each other in the SWF is vividly captured in the SWF press. And in the campains of the day.

I can only imagine what sort of treasure trove exists. But if you want a world to win, a look at these documents will help walk you through a world that was. Informative, sometimes very depressing and oft times quite inspiring.

TheSmallMole
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Aug 8 2012 16:29

Syndicalist, you summed it up beautifully and there is loads of materials regarding every point you made.
Hope to be able to share treasure trove with you soon.

wojtek
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Aug 8 2012 16:48

Just to say, I'm putting up some more of the SWF's 'Direct Action' pamphlets on libcom soon. x

syndicalist
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Aug 8 2012 16:59
wojtek wrote:
Just to say, I'm putting up some more of the SWF's 'Direct Action' pamphlets on libcom soon. x

Do you have any of the "National Rank & File Movement" pamphlets or other stuff?

Oh, the treasure trove (rubbing hands together), I canm't wait.

One of the inteesting stuff on Spain (aside from underground communiques) was the IWA's attempt to organize tourism boycotts of Spain. I gather sunny Spain was begining a vacation marketing campsin to bring in cash..... all the while physically repressing the CNT (and others).

If I recall correctly, there were also communiques/articles on the inside Cuba libertrian movement. Immeidate post-war stuff (AFB) on the large Bulgarian anarchist-communist and anarcho-syndicalist movement ....with repression against them.

Yeah, look forward to digtal coies of press going on-line.

wojtek
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Aug 8 2012 17:29
Quote:
syndicalist wrote:
Do you have any of the "National Rank & File Movement" pamphlets or other stuff?

Unfortunately no, I tried googling it but the name's a bit too generic...

Quote:
syndicalist wrote:
One of the inteesting stuff on Spain (aside from underground communiques) was the IWA's attempt to organize tourism boycotts of Spain. I gather sunny Spain was begining a vacation marketing campsin to bring in cash..... all the while physically repressing the CNT (and others).

The SWF wrote a holiday advertisement/ condemnation of this called A Cheap Holiday which I'll upload. And I assume their pamphlet Spanish political prisoners (which I'm not buying) relates to this also...

wojtek
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Aug 8 2012 17:30

About the acronyms, I don't know how far back they go but could SL be the Socialist League which was a split from the ILP?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_League_(UK,_1932)

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Aug 9 2012 06:27

RSG

It suddenly came to me that through out the sixties ‘RSG’ among peace-nicks/anarchists always meant ‘Regional Seat of Government’ where the rats would hide in the event of a state of emergency or eminent nuclear war. They were exposed by ‘The Spies for Peace’ in the early 1960s. RSG Edinburgh was at Corstorphine Hill. Last time I looked there was some interesting video on line taken from inside this extensive facility.

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Aug 9 2012 06:40

NCLC

Perhaps refers to this:

NCLC and history
1st January 1965 from the Tribune Magazine Archive

J. P. M. MILLAR'S complaint that Cranes book, The Central Labour College, does not refer to the NCLC Postal Courses (Tribune, December 11) reminds me that he too is equally remiss in his many articles in Plebs on the growth of the NCLC Postal Courses. I do not recall seeing any reference in these articles to the early pioneering postal courses of the Central Labour College, the first courses run by the Labour Colleges.
These courses comprised Economics, History and Philosophic Logic and were used in those parts of the country where no trained Labour College tutors were available.
One of the most popular Plebs publications, Mark Starr's A Worker Looks at History, was based on one of the Central Labour College postal courses.
These courses were probably the first Marxist postal courses arranged for trade unionists throughout the world.
GEORGE PHIPPEN Margate.

andy g
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Aug 9 2012 09:03

that's more likely CLC isn't it, Auld-bod? Thoughts they (and SL) were wound up before WW2 though?

andy g
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Aug 9 2012 09:07

could EL be Economic League, the bosses black listing organisation?

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Aug 9 2012 09:41

andy g #20

I surmise that the ‘N’ in NCLC stands for ‘National’. Don’t know when they wound up - though lots of old literature was still in circulation in the 1960s. I remember reading some Plebs stuff that someone gave me (I was usually skint). Some elderly anarchists would sell books and pamphlets from barrows. There was enough Guy Aldred stuff in print to cover two or three trestle tables at Strickland Press. I know some old guys used to sell it outside Govan Underground Station in the mid-sixties.

posi
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Aug 9 2012 10:14
wojtek wrote:
About the acronyms, I don't know how far back they go but could SL be the Socialist League which was a split from the ILP?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_League_(UK,_1932)

Could also be a truncated reference to the WSL, or Socialist Labour Party, if it's later?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_Socialist_League

http://www.socialist-labour-party.org.uk/

EDIT. Or even Socialist Labour League: http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Healy/Sll.html

Also, am I the only person amazed that there has never been an organisation called the Revolutionary Socialist Group in Britain?

andy g
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Aug 9 2012 12:05

Auld-bod #22

fair enough, comrade - didn't realise you had first hand experience!

syndicalist
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Aug 9 2012 13:53

Over here NCLC was the Lyndon La Rouche National Caucus of Labor Committees
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Caucus_of_Labor_Committees

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Aug 9 2012 14:08
TheSmallMole wrote:
Although extensive data has been catalogued (e.g. senders, recipients, dates, keywords, cross-referencing info amongst various records), it is yet unsolved how we can present the data and the images in a truly user friendly way. Any suggestions welcome of course!

It might be a good idea to upload the data files to somewhere. This would mean people like myself could look into it and potentially come up with a way of presenting it on the web including converting the database.
.
I can't promise anything yet and I've got a lot to sort out since I've just moved country but if I've got the files I can fiddle around when I've got a moment.

TheSmallMole
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Aug 10 2012 10:12
Cooked wrote:

It might be a good idea to upload the data files to somewhere. This would mean people like myself could look into it and potentially come up with a way of presenting it on the web including converting the database.

Done!

Please find the database (spreadsheet) on said Notts Indymedia article. Obviously hyperlinks won't work but gives you an idea of the materials and what information we catalogued.
https://nottingham.indymedia.org/system/file_upload/2012/08/10/174/ron_database.xlsx

Info on database and what information was included etc.
https://nottingham.indymedia.org/system/file_upload/2012/08/08/171/info_database.pdf

Thanks again to everyone's interest and contributions, this is fabulous! Please have a look at the database and let us know what you think, either here or per email.

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Aug 10 2012 14:19

ARP

If the documents were linked with RSGs, etc., then ‘ARP’ could be ‘Air Raid Precautions’. As kids growing up after the war we ran around with all sorts of stuff, ARP armbands, warden’s tin hats, etc. In the fifties and sixties there was a lot of well aimed ridicule on the so-called ‘Civil Defence’.

TheSmallMole
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Sep 4 2012 14:44

Full collection is now online!
Ron's Collection