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Donate, don’t ditch: election archive needs your political publicity

Archivist Hannah Lowery looks at some of the election material in the collection.

Press release issued: 5 February 2015

With three months to go until the general election, the campaign trail is hotting up and election literature is being produced thick and fast. An archive of election material, believed to be the biggest of its kind, is urging the public not to throw away any publicity, but to help capture Britain’s political history.

The University of Bristol’s Special Collections holds an extensive archive of over 30,000 election addresses for every British general election since 1892.

It’s looking for election addresses, manifestos, and related publicity from any constituency and party to help researchers in the future get a clear picture of how the general election of 2015 was fought, capturing which issues were of interest to the electorate and candidates.

The collection was originally established by the National Liberal Club and has been maintained by the University of Bristol since the 1970s.

It holds election material relating to a considerable number of prominent 20th Century politicians, including election addresses from the 1945 election – held just two months after VE Day – from Conservative Harold Macmillian and Labour’s Denis Healey.

Election addresses for many prominent Prime Ministers and Ministers are also among the leaflets, including Tony Blair’s 1983 Sedgefield Election Address when he first became a Labour MP and David Cameron’s 2010 Conservative Witney Election Address.

Hannah Lowery, archivist in Special Collections, said: “This is a fascinating collection of general election campaign materials. It’s of great national and international importance, helping to shape our understanding of Britain’s political history. It covers all constituencies and parties, really capturing the issues of the time.

“With the public’s assistance, we hope to collect a broad range of election addresses, manifestos and other publicity for the upcoming general election. We cover all 650 seats in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales so need help from far and wide. If you feel able to help, please do donate any election material you come across rather than throwing it away.”

Please send election addresses, manifestos, and related publicity from any constituency and party to:

  • Special Collections
    Arts and Social Sciences Library
    University of Bristol
    Tyndall Avenue
    BS8 1TJ

Further information is available on the Special Collections website.

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