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Trades Union Congress (TUC) Library Collections and University Archives at London Metropolitan University

Workers' Educational Association Collection


Reference code(s): GB 1924 WEA

Held at: Trades Union Congress (TUC) Library Collections and University Archives at London Metropolitan University

Title: Workers' Educational Association Collection

Date(s): 1903-1995

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 40 m (approx)

Name of creator(s): Association to Promote the Higher Education of Working Men | Workers' Educational Association


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Workers' Educational Association (WEA) was founded in 1903 under the title Association to Promote the Higher Education of Working Men following a scheme proposed by Albert Mansbridge (1876-1952). He became its general secretary in 1905 when the name was changed to The Workers' Educational Association and the first constitution was established in the following year. After a conference on the WEA and Oxford University in 1907, the WEA Central Joint Advisory Committee was established and three year university tutorial classes were started with the close involvement of R H Tawney (1880-1962). The WEA was also linked to the trade union movement and formed the Workers' Education Trade Union Committee in 1919 to strengthen and give cohesion to the educational work with trade unions. The WEA was closely involved in campaigns for better state education and in particular the campaign preceding the 1944 Education Act. The WEA is now a national voluntary organisation existing primarily to provide adults with access to organised learning. It is a registered charity and is non-party in politics and non-sectarian in religion. The WEA is one national organisation in England and Scotland, organised into 13 districts in England and a Scottish Association. It has over 650 local branches and 28 local organisations including 23 national trade unions are affiliated at national level.


Scope and content/abstract:

Archives of the Workers' Educational Association, 1906-1995, comprising central organisation records, 1906-1995; records of the WEA Central Joint Advisory Committee, 1910-1958; records of WEA districts, 1914-1992; and records of the Workers' Education TUC Committee, 1919-1964. Central Labour College archives, 1909-1918; and archives of the International Federation of Workers' Educational Associations, 1945-1986. Papers and pamphlets of R H Tawney, President of WEA, 1896-1962; papers and publications of Ernest Green, General Secretary of WEA, 1920s-1960s.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As indicated in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open to bona fide researchers at the discretion of the TUC Librarian.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the TUC Librarian and subject to copyright conditions

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

List, 1998, copy in NRA (NRA 41853)

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


There may be further deposits in the future

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection was transferred from the WEA headquarters in Bethnal Green to the custody of the TUC Library Collections at the University of North London in August 1998.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

University of North London TUC Collections, Ethical Movement collection.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Janet Foster as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997. .

Date(s) of descriptions: December, 2000

Workers education | Adult education | Educational systems

Personal names
Green | Ernest | 1885-1977 | General Secretary of the Workers' Education Association (WEA)
Tawney | Richard Henry | 1880-1962 | historian

Corporate names
WEA | Workers' Educational Association x Workers' Educational Association