Member records

This guide was last updated in 2010

Millions of people have been trade union members at one time or another, and some unions were more diligent than others in recording who they were.

The main archive for union records is the modern records centre at Warwick University. Its website has an excellent family history section which includes an occupational guide and summaries of its collections.

Two of the most important collections were lodged their by the former Transport and General Workers Union, which once had more than two million members, and the Trades Union Congress – the co-ordinating body for trade unions since its launch in 1868.

Other substantial collections are held at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. Its website has a useful guide for family historians. Particular strengths are the collections dealing with shipwrights, boilermakers, brushworkers and clerical workers.

Coal miners were at the heart of many industrial disputes during the 19th and 20th centuries, but unfortunately their records are not held at a single, easily accessible venue.

The National Union of Mineworkers retains most of its own records at its Barnsley headquarters. Researchers may be able to access them by appointment.

Fortunately, many other miners’ union records can be found in local records offices. These are best located using the Access to Archives service and searching on the terms 'Miners Federation of Great Britain' and 'National Union of Mineworkers'.

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