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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MCF, LIBERATION
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Date(s): Created 1954-1995
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 123 boxes
Name of creator(s): Movement for Colonial Freedom
Committee for Peace in Nigeria


Administrative/Biographical history:

Liberation was founded in 1954 as the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF), under the leadership of (Archibald) Fenner Brockway. Its aim was to campaign in Britain for the freedom of colonial subjects from political and economic domination, and to unify the activities of smaller organisations that were concerned with these issues. It was an amalgamation of the British Branch of the Congress Against Imperialism, the Central Africa Committee, the Kenya Committee and the Seretse Khama Defence Committee. The organisation operated from a succession of offices in central London including 318 Regents Park Road, then at 374 Grays Inn Road, and 313-315 Caledonian Road.

Funds were provided through affiliations and membership, cultural events and appeals totalling approximately 2-3,000 per annum. This allowed for a staff of two or three, the publication of a bi-monthly journal, information sheets and campaign material, and the holding of private and public meetings. It had an individual membership of around 1000, and regional, national and international affiliates, which brought the total number involved to about 3 million. Affiliated organisations included trades unions, constituency Labour parties, trades councils, co-operative societies, peace societies and student organisations.

The MCF was largely associated with the left-wing of the Labour Party and other radical groups. It established Area Councils in different parts of Britain. Standing Committees were established for every sphere of the world where colonial and neo-colonialist issues were dominant, including the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South East Asia, East Africa, Rhodesia, South Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. The MCF also established a Standing Committee to address racial discrimination in Britain, and a Trade Union Committee to assist trades unions in developing countries. Each Standing Committee was chaired by an MP, and met at the House of Commons. The MCF was sponsored by up to 100 MPs. The Committees were composed of MPs and experts on the different territories, whose role it was to stimulate questions and debates in Parliament, and recommend activities to the Council of the MCF, which was representative of all the nationally affiliated organisations and Area Councils.

MCF helped to bring into being a large number of political pressure groups and charities including the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Chile Solidarity Campaign Committee, the Committee for Peace in Vietnam, War on Want and the World Development Movement.

MCF was renamed Liberation in 1970 to address the changing perception of colonialism. In the 1960s it began to appear that political independence for colonies had been achieved. However, there appeared an ongoing need to campaign against neo-colonialism in the form of economic dependence of developing countries.

An elected Council in turn elected an Executive Council, which met jointly with the London Area Council. Annual General Meetings were also held. Liberation pursued its aims through various means including the dissemination of information via the general press and various publications, including the journal Liberation; sponsoring the establishment of the publishers New World Books; organising conferences; lobbying governments at home and abroad; hosting delegations from overseas and making reciprocal visits. Funds were raised through annual membership subscriptions and the sale of the journal, as well as appeals for particular projects. In 1984 a grant from the Greater London Council allowed Liberation to participate in the GLC's London Against Racism campaign. Lord Brockway remained President of Liberation until his death in 1988.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records, 1954-1975, of Liberation (incorporating the Movement for Colonial Freedom), comprising minutes, correspondence, subject files, reports, pamphlets and printed ephemera, also including records of some Area Councils, affiliated organisations and associated bodies such as the Committee for Peace in Nigeria. Largely dating from the period 1961-1972.
A second deposit comprises records of Liberation, 1961-1995, largely dating from the 1970s onwards.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The first deposit (93 boxes, ref: MCF) has been split into two sections: the Movement for Colonial Freedom, and the Committee for Peace in Nigeria. Within the MCF, the collection has been arranged in the following sections: Executive Committee; Central Council; Secretary's reports; committees; finance; area councils; affiliates; Annual Delegate Conference; general correspondence; countries; activities; office management; publications; and miscellaneous. The second deposit (30 boxes, ref: LIBERATION) largely reflects the arrangement into sections of the first deposit, and comprises the following: Executive Council; Central Council; London Area Council; affiliates; correspondence; countries; activities; office management; publications; Annual General Meetings; finance; miscellaneous. Unlike the first deposit, Secretary's reports for this period remain with the AGM files; Committee papers form part of country, activity or affiliates files; and Annual Delegate Conference papers are filed either with AGM papers or under activities. Publications largely comprise items published by other organisations.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by Liberation, 9 Arkwright Road, Hampstead, London NW3 6AB.

Finding aids:

Two unpublished handlists, one for each deposit. A separate description of the records of the Committee for Peace in Nigeria is also available online.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited on permanent loan in 1984 (first deposit) and 1998 (second deposit).

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds some Movement for Colonial Freedom publications (part of the Southern African Materials Project) (Ref: MS 380210) and papers of Diane Noakes (Ref: PP MS 56) on related subjects. SOAS Library also holds copies of the journal Liberation, missing some issues (Ref: Per 50L, 655 730).

Papers of J Murumbi (an early member of the MCF) are held at the Kenyan National Archives. Papers of (Archivald) Fenner Brockway are held at Cambridge University, Churchill Archives Centre, and other repositories: see the National Register of Archives for further details.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
15 May 2000, revised Jul 2002

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