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National Library of Wales
Pearce, Bert, Welsh Communist Party papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 PEARCE

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Bert Pearce (Welsh Communist Party) Papers

Short Title: Pearce, Bert, Welsh Communist Party papers

Creation date(s): 1884-2002 (mainly 1940-1990)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 1.1 cubic metres (120 boxes)

Name of creator(s):

CONTEXT

Administrative/Biographical history: Herbert Pearce, or Bert Pearce as he was known, was the full time Welsh Secretary of the Communist Party from 1960 to 1984. He was born on 6 January 1919 in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire and died on 21 August 2002 in Cardiff.
Bert Pearce was educated at the Pembroke Dock County School. His father, originally from Swansea, was a county school teacher and a lay preacher, and his mother was from the South Wales valleys. They were both active Labour Party members and supporters of the peace movement, and Bert Pearce was a Labour Party member himself until he joined the Communist Party in 1938. In 1946 he married Margaret née Forbister [1918-1996] from Rhymney who was a schoolteacher and a life long socialist, with whom he had two children, David and Marian.
He became the full-time area secretary for Wolverhampton from 1938 to 1949, and was employed by the Communist Party Great Britain from then onwards. He was a member of Handsworth (Sheffield) branch, 1938-1945, Midlands District Education and Propaganda Organiser, 1938-1945, a member of the Midlands District Secretariat, 1938-1945, a member of the organisation department of the Midlands district, 1938-1949, Midlands District Industrial Officer, 1949-1952, a member of the Sparkbrook (Birmingham) branch, 1945-1949, and was Birmingham City Secretary from 1953 to 1960.
He was a life-long trade unionist, being an active member of the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union, a Trades Council delegate prior to the bans being imposed by the Communist Party, and served on the Birmingham Trades Council. Later, when he worked in the South Wales Bookshop, he was a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.
He wrote and edited several pamphlets on industrial work in the Midlands, and was very interested in housing and education policy. His first mass campaign in the Party was the Birmingham Rent Strike of 1939. During his time in Birmingham he also took the lead in the movement against unemployment in the motor industry in 1952-1953, and wrote a pamphlet called 'Jobs for Midlands Workers'. He edited and introduced the first Birmingham pamphlet on the colour bar.
In the 1955 and 1959 General Election Bert Pearce contested the Perry Barr Parliamentary Constituency in Birmingham, and stood four times for the municipal elections in Birmingham. He was the Communist candidate in the Swansea East constituency by-election in March 1963, the 1970 General Election in Neath, and Cardiff South ward, May 1968.
He was a member of the Cardiff branch when he became the full time Welsh Secretary of the Communist Party. His main responsibilities were agendas and progressing of the Welsh Committee and Secretariat, the general political line, propaganda, industrial and social service issues, editing 'Party News', and Young Communist League (YCL) building campaign. He also played an active part in the struggles against unemployment, against pit and factory closures, and for economic and socialist planning for Wales. He was a strong advocate of a Trades Union Congress for Wales, and a Parliament for Wales, and was prominent in the movements for peace, in the Peoples March for Jobs, against racialism and Apartheid, and with the Democratic Left Wales.

CONTENT

Scope and content/abstract: The fonds comprises papers accumulated by Bert Pearce including the minutes and papers of the Communist Party Great Britain, 1921-1998, Communist Party Wales, 1884-2002, and the Democratic Left, 1978-1999. Also included are papers relating to elections, devolution in Wales and Scotland, industry, miners strikes, anti-apartheid, international affairs, peace movement, Peoples March for Jobs, and the poll tax campaign. The accumulated papers reflect Bert Pearce's life work for the Communist Party in Birmingham and Wales, as well as the active part he played in the campaigns listed above. The archive does not contain personal material.

ACCESS AND USE

Language/scripts of material: English ; Welsh

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into three groups: Communist Party Great Britain, Communist Party Wales District and Democratic Left Wales. In the case of the committee minutes, congress papers and election leaflets the order imposed by Bert Pearce has been retained and added to. Other parts of the archive were in disarray and were arranged at NLW so that papers similar in subject and date are described together. Two groups, namely the subject files and the party education files, are miscellaneous in subject and the most notable topics are described on file level. The order of the papers within all the files is the original order except where specified on file level.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply

Finding aids: A hard copy of this list is available at NLW and at the South Wales Miners Library, University College of Swansea.

ARCHIVAL INFORMATION

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: Multiple copies, photocopies and junk mail have been destroyed, as authorised in appraisal form NMW/2003-04/14. Documents of a purely personal nature have been returned by NLW to the family.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history: Bert Pearce accumulated Communist Party papers during the 1990s when various party offices closed. The collection was partly arranged by him before the papers came to the Library.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Mr Bert Pearce, Cardiff, between 1996 and 2002, and by his daughter, Mrs Marian Darke, April 2003.

ALLIED MATERIALS

Related material: Photographs are in NLW, Special Collections (0200 302 653) and a microfiche copy of Maniffesto'r Blaid Gomiwnyddol (1948) is in NLW microfiche. Communist Party publications, duplicate election leaflets and the Peoples March for Jobs banner were donated by Bert Pearce to the South Wales Miners Library, University College of Swansea, 2002. The Communist Party of Great Britian Archive, including records, 1919-1993, is in the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester University, and includes Communist Party of Great Britain: Welsh committee, reports, correspondence, membership records and other papers, 1944-79.

DESCRIPTION NOTES

Note: The title of every unit of description is supplied from the contents, and where known the original file title is retained. When the original file title is used this will be noted on file level with the use of single quotation marks.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Nia Mai Williams.
The following sources were used in the compilation of this catalogue: Joe Berry, 70 Years of Struggle : Britain's Communist Party 1920-1990 (London, 1991); Henry Pelling, The British Communist Party : a historical profile (London, 1975); Kevin Morgan, Harry Pollitt (Manchester, 1993); Geoff Andrews, Nina Fishman and Kevin Morgan, Opening the books : essays on the social and cultural history of British communism (London, 1995); Will Paynter, My Generation (London, 1972); Welsh District 'Party News', November 1960; R. Merfyn Jones, Cymru 2000 : Hanes Cymru yn yr Ugeinfed Ganrif (Caerdydd, 1999); Beti Jones, Etholiadau'r ganrif / Welsh elections 1885-1997 (Talybont 1999); National Library of Wales 'Campaign!' website; Daily Worker , Friday, 20 May 1955.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: May 2003


INDEX ENTRIES
Subjects
Communism | Wales
Pearce, Bert | Archives
Political parties | Wales

Personal names
Pearce , Bert

Corporate names

Places

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