Trade Union Martyrs: Save Our History


The Marx Memorial Library is home to a unique set of newspapers – the Dorset County Chronicle and Somersetshire Gazette – spanning the years 1834-1836. Bound in a large volume, they have been stored in our basement for decades.

These papers contain a dozen fascinating articles documenting the arrest and trial proceedings of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, in addition to some revealing letters to the editor about the case.

This book is extremely fragile so we are unable to make these sources at the Marx Memorial Library available to activists and researchers without risking further damage, until they have been preserved. Digital copies are not available anywhere without a charge.

We believe that these original accounts of this pivotal point in labour movement history – our history –  should be made available to the widest possible audience free of charge, including schools and higher education institutions

We need your help to:

  • Professionally unbind and conserve the papers to ensure their long term survival for generations to come
  • Digitise select articles on the Tolpuddle Martyrs
  • Create a related web resource on the martyrs, including the digitised newspaper articles with text recognition software
  • Curate a special banner exhibition using the digital images for display at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival in 2017
  • Publish a printed pamphlet reproducing key extracts from the newspaper extracts in order to tell the story.

We need to raise a total of £6,000 to make this possible.

We are offering our sponsors donating £250 or more a special credit on our website and on the exhibition panel

"The TUC is proud to endorse this really valuable project. Digitising these newspapers will make accessible a treasure trove of information about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and improve our collective knowledge of this crucial period of labour movement history. With the TUC’s own 150th anniversary fast approaching, we are right behind the Marx Memorial Library’s drive to enhance our understanding of trade unionism’s historical roots."

 Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC


"The importance of these documents is unquestionable. Digitising them so that they can be accessed by school & university students, researchers and members of the public will be of great value and will be a useful learning resource. Also, conserving the original material for future generations is essential. The other great benefit of digitisation of course is that this will secure the actual content of the material and make it less vulnerable to total loss through an unforeseeable disaster than it is at present." 

Tom de Wit, Manager, TUC Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum


"We applaud this initiative to raise awareness and think the position of the Marx Memorial Library within the labour movement and beyond make them ideally situated to succeed in finding a wide audience.  It is vital that this nationally important resource, which is at risk due to its fragility, is preserved for posterity and is made available for research"


Jeff Howarth, TUC Library, London Metropolitan University



Organization Details
  • Through original documents and photographs, Read More
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  • Poster celebrating the pilots of Read More
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