National Co-operative Archive

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Located in central Manchester, the National Co-operative Archive is home to a wide array of records relating to the history of the worldwide co-operative movement. The collections (rare books, periodicals, manuscripts, films, photographs and oral histories) are an unrivalled resource for the development of the co-operative movement from the initial ideas of the eighteenth century to today. The archive's small staff works with a variety of users, ranging from interested community members and students to scholars from across the UK and around the globe.

The entire collection of this archive is a Designated Collection of national importance.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Monday - Friday, 10 - 5, by appointment

The entire collection of the National Co-operative Archive is a Designated Collection of national importance.

This collection is an outstanding record of the development of co-operation from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to the present day, and includes many rare and unique records such as the correspondence of the ‘Father of Co-operation’ Robert Owen. As well as the history of co-operation the Archive covers a wide range of subject areas including advertising, education, employment, funerals, gender studies, politics, retailing, and youth groups. The depth and richness of the material held by the archive reflects the co-operative movement’s proud claim to look after its members from the cradle to the grave.

Archive Collections:
Personal Papers:
Robert Owen Collection (3000 letters, books, pamphlets); George Jacob Holyoake Collection (3500 letters, books, pamphlets); Edward Owen Greening Collection (11,000 letters and books); T.W. Mercer Collection (Co-operative journalist); W. Henry Brown Collection (Co-operative writing); Thomas Hughes Collection (Christian socialist and author); E V Neale Collection (Co-operative Union); David Hutton (Co-operative Party); Vic Butler (London Co-operative Society/ Co-operative Party); Gladys Bunn (South Suburban Co-operative Society/ International Co-operative Alliance/ Co-operative College).

Co-operative Societies:
Co-operative Retail Services (Northern Region); South East Retail Group; South Midlands; Midlands; Metropolitan Motor Cab Association.

National Organisations:
Co-operative College; Co-operative Union; North West Convalescent Homes; South West Convalescent Homes; Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers; National Association of Co-operative Officials; Co-operative Women's Guild collection; Co-operative Party; Co-operative Press.

Co-operative Wholesale Society:
Goliath Footwear (Leeds); Artwork of James V Glover; CWS Annuals; Balance Sheets; Wheatsheaf (journal); The Producer (journal); People’s Yearbook (journal).

Co-operative Independent Commission; National Cooperative Film Archive; National Cooperative Oral History Archive; Cooperative Commission.

Bibliographies for special collections; list of periodicals.

Collection details


Key artists and exhibits

  • Designated Collection

National Co-operative Archive
Co-operative College
Holyoake House
Hanover Street
Greater Manchester
M60 0AS




0161 246 2925/2937/2945

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