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Collection Description


George Padmore Institute

Reference code(s): GPI
Title: George Padmore Institute
Date(s): 1960 - Present
Level of description: Fond
Extent and medium of the unit of description: Currently over 100 archive boxes, 200 files, c.150 runs of (non current) periodicals, c.500 books.

Name of creator(s):
Administrative/Biographical history: The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is a library, research and educational centre housing materials relating to the black community of Caribbean, African and Asian descent, in Britain and continental Europe. The Institute is named after George Padmore (1902-1959), the Trinidadian writer and dedicated Pan Africanist who became one of the most influential figures in the anti-colonialism and independence struggles of the 20th century.
The Institute was set up as a charity in 1991 by a group of writers, educators, cultural, political and social activists associated with New Beacon Books Ltd. (a specialist bookshop, international book service and publishing house based in Finsbury Park, London) with the following key aims and objectives:
  • To establish a library, educational resource and research centre that will allow the materials housed at the GPI to be available for use by interested individuals and groups.
  • To organise educational and cultural activities, including conferences, courses, seminars, talks and readings.
  • To publish materials relating to the history, culture and politics of the Caribbean, African and Asian diasporas, focussing in particular on the history and life experiences of black peoples in Britain and Europe.

The archive collections at the GPI have developed since the early 1960s through donation and deposit and include the archives of cultural and educational organisations and political campaign groups, collections of journals, newspapers, books, pamphlets and other literature published by national and international social movements and anti-racist organisations between the 1960s and 1990s. Key collections relate to the work of the Caribbean Artists Movement, the Black Education Movement and Supplementary Schools Movement, the Black Parents Movement, the New Cross Massacre Campaign, the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books and the accompanying Book Fair Festivals, 1982-1995.
Archival history:
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer: Material in the GPI archive collections has arisen out of the independent cultural, educational and political activities of GPI trustees and the work of associated political organisations and campaign groups involved in social movements and black activism in Britain and in other parts of Europe since the early 1960s.

Scope and content: The following archive collections are housed at the George Padmore Institute:
  • Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM), 1966-1972: audio tapes, transcriptions, letters, interviews and photographs about the work of the Movement and its principle members. The collection includes CAM newsletters, CAM publicity materials, conference papers (1967-1972), and transcripts of interviews by Anne Walmsley with the founding members of the Movement; namely poet and historian Edward Kamau Brathwaite, writer, historian and political commentator John La Rose, and the poet and playwright Andrew Salkey (1928-1995).
  • Black Education Movement (BEM) and Black Supplementary Schools Movement (BSSM), 1969 - present: c.12 archive boxes and 150 files containing minutes of meetings, leaflets, campaign materials, posters, audio tapes, photographs and early curriculum materials produced and compiled by the teachers and parents involved in these movements. Much of this material documents the history of the first supplementary schools established in Haringey and Shepherds Bush, London, in 1969.
  • Records of the Black Parents Movement, Black Youth Movement and Race Today Collective, 1975-1989.
  • Campaigning Journals, Newsletters and Ephemera, 1969-1990s: comprising materials published by left-wing, anti-racist and black political organisations. Titles include Black Liberator, vols. 1-2, 1971-; Bradford Black, 1977-; Frontline: Journal of Black Arts, Culture and Politics, 1981-1985; Grass Roots: Black Community News; Hustler; Lotus: Afro-Asian Writings (Journal of the Afro-Asian Writers Association); Race and Class, 1974-; and Race Today, 1969-1988.
  • Caribbean Periodicals: comprising c.40 runs of newspapers and (non-current) journals published in Antigua, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and the United Kingdom. Titles include Caribbean Contact, 1978-1993, Caribbean Insight, 1986-1990; Caribbean Journal of Education; Caribbean Times, 1981-1999; Casa de las Americas (ISSN: 0008-7157); The Grenadian Voice, 1983-1986; Hold the Fort: Newspaper of the Committee for Labour Solidarity (Trinidad), 1982-1989; Outlet (Antigua), 1969-1990; Tapia (Trinidad), 1969-1977); The Vanguard (Trinidad), 1965-1993; West Indian Digest, 1971; and West Indian World, 1973-1980.
  • International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books, 1982-1995: brochures, publicity material, photographs, sound recordings and reports of the 12 international book fairs organised by a consortium of publishers and writers associated with Race Today, Bogle L'Overture Publications and New Beacon Books Ltd.
  • Archive of New Beacon Books, 1966- present: comprising fiction and non-fiction titles published by New Beacon Books Ltd. and including both material on Caribbean history and literature and material on the political and social history of black peoples in Britain. Titles range from 'Foundations: a Book of Poems', by John La Rose (1966), and 'Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica' by Edward Kamau Brathwaite (1970) to 'The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress Revisited', by Hakim Adi and Marika Sherwood (1995), and 'Changing Britannia: Life Experiences with Britain', edited by Roxy Harris and Sarah White (1999). This collection also contains business records, correspondence files, book reviews, letters and publicity materials.
  • New Cross Massacre Campaign, 1981: c.75 files containing minutes of meetings, reports and campaign materials produced by the New Cross Action Committee - founded after the racially-motivated arson attack on a house in Lewisham, south London, that killed 13 black youths. The collection also includes reports and press cuttings about the subsequent inquest court proceedings, and correspondence relating to the organisation of the Committee's Black People's Day of Action held on 2nd March 1981.
  • Carnival Movement, 1970s - present: comprising costume designs, press cuttings and reports on the history of the Notting Hill Carnival and the carnival movement in the United Kingdom.
  • Macdonald Inquiry into Racist and Racial Violence in Manchester Schools (The Burnage Inquiry), 1986-1989: comprising materials collected by the Inquiry team which investigated the racially motivated murder of schoolboy Ahmed Iqbal Ullah at Burnage High School, Manchester, in 1986. Findings from the Inquiry were later published as 'Murder in the playground: The Burnage Report' in 1989 (ISBN: 1872417027).

The personal papers of the GPI trustees who were actively involved in the work of the above-mentioned movements and organisations, such as the writer and publisher John La Rose, academic and education campaigner Gus John, and renowned barrister Ian Macdonald QC, will also be housed at the Institute after 2003.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:
System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access: Currently there is no public access to the collections, but reference access (by appointment) will be possible from 2003 onwards. In the interim all research enquiries should be sent to the George Padmore Institute by post, fax or email c/o: George Padmore Institute, 76 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EN, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7272 8915. Fax: +44 (0)20 7281 4662. Email:
Conditions governing reproduction:
Language/scripts of material: English
Physical characteristics:
Finding aids: Printed lists to all collections are in process. Records are also being catalogued in ISAD(G) format for inclusion in an automated database (CALM 2000).

Existence and location of originals:
Existence and location of copies:
Related units of description:
Publication note:

Recorder's note:
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: 28 November 2001

Interest: Black, Caribbean

Specific group: African-Caribbean peoples

Protest movements
Political movements
Social history
Interethnic relations
Ethnic groups
Cultural studies
Carnival arts
Caribbean diaspora
Caribbean cultures
Caribbean literature

Personal/Corporate names
Brathwaite, Edward Kamau, 1930-
La Rose, John, 1927-
Salkey, Andrew, 1928-1995
Caribbean Artists Movement
Black Education Movement
Black Parents Movement
New Cross Action Committee

London, United Kingdom
Trinidad and Tobago
Antigua and Barbuda

email CASBAH