As part of its activities to commemorate and celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the Marx Memorial Library is showing an exhibition of portraits taken by photographer Vaughan Melzer. Melzer has made it her task to take portrait photographs of men and women born between 1915 and 1950 who became dedicated Socialists in their youth and who have maintained that commitment throughout their lives, despite the decades of an inimical ideological climate and media silence.
An example of one of Melzer's portraits: Jeremy Corbyn, MP
Melzer has created these portraits of people who formed their ideas in the wake of the First World War, the Big Depression, Hungry Thirties and the struggle against fascism, concluding in the Second World War. They are the often unsung heroes of the socialist movement, people who devoted their lives to justice, social equality and the dream of a socialist society. Vaughan's portraits reveal this turbulent history through the faces of those she has photographed. Her work constitutes a pantheon that acknowledges and celebrates the place in Twentieth Century history of this special group of human beings. Vaughan was particularly interested in what influenced them and how they came to their commitment and in brief accompanying biographies describes their fascinating and varied stories.
Portrait of political activist Nicola Seyd
The exhibition, entitled 'Those Who Never Gave Up: Their Hopes of a Socialist World Never Died', will be on display in the Marx Memorial Library from November 6 to December 14, 2017.
While much of the most regularly consulted material in our Spanish Collection is from the period of the Civil War and the years immediately following it, the collection also includes much more recent material. Among this material are papers relating to the creation of some of the many memorials around the United Kingdom which commemorate the sacrifice of the International Brigades. These include the papers of the International Brigade Memorial Appeal committee which was formed in 1983 to work towards establishing a national memorial to the International Brigades in time for the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in 1986.
Uncatalogued papers of the IBMA - Letter from Bill Alexander, December 1983
The minutes of the newly formed International Brigade Memorial Appeal committee show how their work focused on three areas: fundraising to meet the cost of the memorial, identifying a suitable location for it to be erected and selecting a sculptor undertake the work. Twelve interested sculptors were requested to submit a maquette of their proposed design and, after deliberations, Ian Walters was selected to undertake the work.
Uncatalogued papers of the IBMA - Members of the committee viewing the partially completed sculpture in Ian Walters' studio, c.1985
Extensive correspondence of the IBMA committee charts the progression of the sculpture and fundraising and preparations for the unveiling ceremony in Jubilee Gardens on London's Southbank on 5th October 1985. A band was found to perform at the ceremony and arrangements were made for former Labour leader Michael Foot to unveil the sculpture.
Uncatalogued papers of the IBMA - Letter from Michael Foot, January 1985
The archive collection also includes many newspaper cuttings about the unveiling ceremony as well as photographs of the event - people who have visited the Library might recognise several of the Spanish Civil War Banners in our collection were also in attendance on the day.
Box A-14 A/1a - unveiling of the Southbank memorial, 5 October 1985
The Marx Memorial Library is proud to announce that the new website on the Russian Revolution 1917-1922 and its impact on World War 1 and the European Labour Movement, is now live.
The website is part of a larger project marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution hosted by MML and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to this website, we have created a travelling exhibition (designed by Angus Reid) and an accompanying brochure. The entire project has been researched, written and co-ordinated by Professor Mary Davis and Tommy Hodgson.
Check the website out for yourself: