ARCHIVE AND EXHIBITION
We are collecting materials and stories from live and historical campaigns working for peace. We want to create an inspiring open-access archive showing a wide range of campaigns and movements. Peace groups, demilitarisation activities, anti-militarist campaigns, feminist responses to war, anti-war mobilisations, pacifist education are just some examples of what we’re looking for. We want leaflets, interviews, oral histories, newspapers, videos, films, banners, stencils to be made available online and in a touring exhibition. No contribution is too small! We will favour campaigns active within our lifetimes, but would be happy to consider materials dating all the way back to the opposition to the First World War. The geographical focus is Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we are also interested in international and transnational campaigns.
Uncovering the Archive
The programme offers a free series of workshops & screenings with an aim to engage young people (18-25) from marginalised backgrounds and/or those who have not engaged with archives before or are not currently in higher education. The intention is to introduce the archive as a resource and archiving as a mode of storytelling available to, and representative of, those who are normally excluded from history- making practices. By working with the collections held at MDR, partnered archives, cultural spaces and creative practitioners working with archives, the programme aims to offer young people with the tools to confidently explore, interrogate and create the stories they want to tell or wish were told through engaging activities that centre creative play, conversation and making. By introducing young people to places, digital spaces and people that are made for/representative of them, we hope to empower their claim to history and what is important to them.
The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Histories of Direct Action
The current cost-of-living crisis has incentivised a number of strikes in workplaces and sectors all across the country. However, the sphere of production isn’t the only place where a revitalisation of struggle is emerging. Struggles in the sphere of circulation, from energy bill refusal to mass shoplifting, have re-emerged as proletarian responses to our ongoing crises. From Marius Jacob’s ‘night workers’ to the ‘proletarian shopping’ of 1970s Italy, from the Poll Tax federations to student rent strikes, there is a historical precedent for this activity that must be explored and analysed if we wish to push these contemporary struggles further.
Seize the Media
Indymedia was a global network of Independent Media Centres (IMC) which saw its heyday in the first two decades of the 21st Century. Self-organised networks of local activists covered international resistance to capitalism, ecocide, neocolonialism and many other local and international struggles. Indymedia became synonymous with the issues taken up by the Global Justice Movement. Powered by the internet and built on IMC servers, Indymedia embodied the ethos of DIY journalism and autonomous media. It is a vital part of the pre-history of social media and digitally-enabled activism.
New Architectural Movement Digital Archive
A unique collection of documents from a significant activist movement that challenged the established order of architectural practice both in the private and public sectors goes online in November. In the mid-1970s the New Architecture Movement (NAM) gave a voice to progressive and inclusive initiatives that encouraged people to promote social change and greater equality through their work in the built environment.
The launch of NAM’s archive provides both a new resource for historical research and also a challenge to present and future generations in the field to reinterpret and apply NAM’s radical ideas to current issues. NAM brought together young idealistic architects, engineers and planners from across the UK seeking ways to reform working practices and the planning and development process. In an intensely productive period from 1975-80 the movement ran workshops, campaigns and seminars on a range of issues – professional education and governance, workplace structures, feminism, public sector design, worker unionisation – to create an alternative vision that put the priorities of people and communities ahead of developers,corporations and officials.
Stuart Christie Memorial Archive
The Stuart Christie Memorial Archive was founded in the spring of 2021 and is hosted by the Mayday Rooms. The Archive, brought together by researcher Jess Thorne, preserves Stuart Christie’s private library, personal correspondence, his publishing endeavours, oral testimony, radical ephemera and an extensive online library of anarchist films. In an ongoing process, the archive is being expanded to include a larger collection of oral histories, which will explore the sequence of revolts associated with ‘1968’ and the long winter of reaction that followed in the 1970’s.
Leftove.rs: Digital Archive
Leftovers is a shared online archive of radical, anti-oppressive and working class movements. The platform hopes to aid the dissemination of archived ephemera from these movements, campaigns, and struggles, casting light on histories of resistance from below. We hope that the project will become a vital resource through opening up archives of radical dissent.
The archive is very much a work-in-progress but we are happy for people to browse, download pdfs and get involved if the want to help add metadata and catagorise the material.
Exhibition: Print Subversion in the Wapping Dispute
Check out our first ever online exhibition Print Subversion in the Wapping Dispute, which focuses on print as a medium and militant workers’ self-activity subverting print to organise, build their own power and resources, and communicate with workers in other branches of industry. Drawing on the tradition of workers correspondence, Picket Bulletin, provides a central example of how print was used to coordinate and circulate autonomous activity by striking workers. The exhibition will showcase new documents recently added to MayDay Rooms collections, featuring audio, posters, zines, journals and other printed matter.
London Housing Struggles Archive
The London Housing Struggles Archive is a collection of documents related to housing campaigns, squatting and rent strikes. The archive is divided into three collections: the first documents housing struggles ranging from 1975 to 1991 including campaigns against the sell off of estates in the 1980s. The second collection gathers together a wide range of hard and digital materials produced by recent 2010 and reaching the present, including posters, flyers and pamphlets as well as archived websites and an extensive range of digital images and propaganda.
Activist Media Project
Activist Media Project (AMP) is an archive of activist media in audio, video, photographs, pamphlets and graphics. It is also an online platform where media can be stored, annotated, sorted and re-presented to support social and environmental justice movements.
The objective of AMP is to preserve activist media and facilitate different processes for individuals and groups to collaborate on: shared readings of histories, ongoing and future campaigns, providing support of core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
Brixton Gentrification Struggles 1993-2021: A Timeline
This timeline charts sixty events, campaigns and places in the Brixton gentrification struggles in chronological order. It starts with the 1993 Brixton City Challenge to the merciless implementation of Lambeth’s Future Brixton Masterplan in the 2010s, along with the enforcement of austerity measures following the 2008 financial crisis. It ends with the enforced gentrification of the Pope’s Road area in 2021, which is now marketed as Brixton Rec Quarter. All entries link to articles, images, videos and some books/ theses which document activist perspectives as comprehensively as possible.
This Timeline was put together by Jordi Blanchar and Marion Hamm and has been archived by Activist Media Project and published by MayDay Rooms.
MayDay Radio is a volunteer-run experiment in oral histories and sound production; it is a place to share equipment and skills; it is a platform to create new oral histories and activate existing archives, those at the MayDay Rooms but also beyond.
Between the History of Propaganda and the Propaganda of History
“Today many people are learning their real history for the first time…”
This sentence appeared in 1979 at the top of a poster about British colonialism in Zimbabwe. It was produced by a group of radical activists and propagandists, the Poster-Film Collective, as part of a series of called “Whose World is the World?” Their posters, which collaged together historical images with sharp explanatory texts, were widely disseminated, being sent out to schools and colleges, along with teaching materials.
This project takes its inspiration from these radical interventions. We will develop creative and collective responses to archival materials, producing new pieces of historical propaganda, while opening conversations about new forms of political education through engagement with the material histories of struggle.
The Covid-19 virus has thrust us all into extraordinary times. We are afraid. We are hopeful for change. We are afraid again.
Many of us are uncertain of income, uncertain for ourselves and our loved ones, uncertain for our future – but we all have very different practical and emotional responses to the virus, to the lockdown, and to our previous lives.
In the midst of this crisis, we wanted to find a way to bring people together and share our different responses. This is an archive that will keep a record of as many of these feelings and effects as we can, to inform future organising and for the preservation of our collective memory. All contributions will remain in MayDay Rooms’ archive and will be processed once we exit the crisis
Squatting is a Part of the Housing Movement: Practical Squatting Histories 1969-2019
Squatting Is Part of The Housing Movement: Practical Squatting Histories from 1968 to 2019 is the outcome of a residency in MayDay Rooms, and is part of our Housing Struggles Archive that we compiled last year. After an extensive research and a gathering of materials from different archives, including 56a Infoshop, there is now a three box collection of materials on squatting history in the UK. This publication will put the material in context. Download the publication here
Network of Radical Libraries and Archives (NORLA)
NORLA is the Network of Radical Libraries and Archives. We are made up of independent archives from around the UK that hold material relating the radical histories of struggle, emancipation and liberation movements, and counter culture.
In a time when archives and libraries are increasing under threat from closure or increasing centralisation, NORLA was re-established to share resources, skills, and to provide a platform to advocate the importance of independent cultural and heritage resources that reflect the politics of the materials they hold.
At present the NORLA member have included; 56a Infoshop, Activist Media Project, Bishopsgate Institute, Feminist Library, George Padmore Institute Archive, MayDay Rooms, Marx Memorial Library, Sparrows’ Nest Library and Archive, and Statewatch Archive.
Lucas Plan Digital Archive
The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills.
It remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change. This site is a collaboration between the Lucas Shopstewards network and the MayDay Rooms Archive.
Residency Program 2017/18
MayDay Rooms organises 6-month residency program of projects that creatively contribute to our collections and the practice of archival ‘activation’, which guides the organisation. At MDR we aim to create dynamic situations – not to sit passively on archival holdings. A commitment to linking historical material to contemporary social struggles guides our archival practices: how we collect, exhibit, and disseminate material. These residencies seek to create a space to engage with practice-led archival research that experiments with new models of ‘activation’ and helps us to develop our own.