The British Collection is strong on material on the two world wars, British foreign relations between the wars, decolonization, and, most important, the Labour Party. One of the first major acquisitions in 1919 was the Wellington House library of British wartime propaganda pamphlets. Holdings cover Great Britain's history in World War I and postwar events from the British point of view in Documents on British Foreign Policy (1919–39). The tension-ridden period between the wars is highlighted by special materials on the General Strike of May 1926, by the publications of the International Brigade Association for the Spanish Civil War, and by the newspaper New Times and Ethiopian News for the Abyssinian war.
Documentation on the official history of World War II is shared with Stanford University Libraries. Over the years the Jonsson Library of Government Documents in Stanford University Libraries has built an excellent collection on Cabinet Office and Foreign Office materials on microform. A good source on internal politics and social policy is Tom Harrison's Mass Observation Archives for 1937–1941, on microfilm. The Harvester Press microfiche set entitled Britain and Europe since 1945 reproduces all the ephemeral literature for and against British entry into the European Communities and its uneasy and tempestuous membership.
The heart of the collection consists of a rich selection of material published by the various political parties. The most important and substantive is the documentation on the Labour Party and its various predecessors and allies, such as the Independent Labour Party and the Fabians. Pamphlets, leaflets, reports of the annual conferences, and minutes of the National Executive Committee (some on microform), as well as newspapers and periodicals, make up this collection. Complementing these holdings are the general minute books of the Trades Union Congress, available on microfilm, and its pamphlets and leaflet series.
For the British Conservative and Unionist Party, the library holds pamphlets and leaflets from 1868 and the minutes of the Executive Committee of the National Union of Conservative Associations from 1897 to 1956, on microfiche. The Communist Party is represented by a collection of pamphlets for 1947–1982 and by files of the Daily Worker (1943–66) and the Morning Star (1966– ).
For the contemporary political scene, the library continues to collect publications of the various parties, interest and pressure groups, and general election propaganda. A special effort has been made, as well, to collect leaflets, pamphlets, and other printed matter setting forth the points of view of the various factions in Northern Ireland since 1969. The collection acquired the first microfilms of the pamphlet collection on the "troubles," brought together by the Linen Hall Library, and a set of stunning photographs of Belfast political wall paintings by Ciaran MacGowan for the period 1981–1988.