The Working Class Movement Library (residency)

January-August 2012


The Alternative School of Economics was born out of a research residency at The Working Class Movement Library. The library was co-founded by Ruth and Edmund Frow, who began collecting books in the 1940s and who later opened their home in Old Trafford to the public. When the library grew too big, the Frows moved with their books to new premises in Salford. The library now holds a vast collection of books and archive material on labour history, trade unions, political philosophy and class struggle.

We have been inspired by the library as a legacy of self-education, for its collections about the workers education movement, and by the proposition of maintaining a continuity of struggle whereby historical material can inform current debate. We are also inspired by the library’s welcoming, homely and egalitarian approach, an attitude we wish to replicate in The Alternative School of Economics.

At the end of our research residency we shot footage to make a film about the Library, focusing on the links between the private and the public, the political and the personal, knowledge and self-education and politicisation. The film is still in production.