Ours is a living archive and, in part, we depend on people depositing material with us. If you have any material that broadly fits in with the description above we would be pleased to hear from you

PPU archives and historic resources

  Local History
  No more War Movement
  Conscientious Objection


  Some of the archives


  Part of the library

The Peace Pledge Union began in 1934 in response to the increasing threat of war following the failed Peace Treaty of 1919. Founded by the popular Anglican priest, Canon Dick Sheppard, it quickly became one of the major organisations within the British peace movement. Among its Sponsors were Vera Brittain, Aldous Huxley, George Lansbury, Bertrand Russell, Siegfried Sassoon and Donald Soper; later, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett played active parts.

The PPU has been involved in campaigns against the Spanish Civil War; against preparations for WW2; against the conduct of that war, especially the famine in occupied Europe created by the Allied blockade, and the intensive bombing of German cities; against nuclear weapons immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and long before CND; against wars in Korea, Suez, Biafra, Vietnam, the Falklands, the Gulf, and the conflict in Northern Ireland. The PPU also has a long history of an alternative view of Remembrance, including promotion of the White Poppy, which incurred Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's "deep distaste" in 1986.

All these issues and others are dealt with in the PPU Archive, including Minutes, Annual Reports, serial publications (especially Peace News, its weekly paper from 1936), pamphlets, broadsheets, leaflets and posters.

Local history
A particular feature of the Archive - unusual for 'national' organisations - is the inclusion of a wide variety of material from PPU local and regional groups (some published in Welsh) over the same period, including Minutes, leaflets, press cuttings and brief histories of local activity. [brief details]

No More War Movement
The Archive includes some published material from the No More War Movement, founded in 1921, which merged with the PPU in 1937, and other material illustrative of peace campaigning before and during the Second World War. There are files of material by and about significant individuals such as those previously mentioned.

Conscientious Objection
There is a related Archive of material from the Conscientious Objection movements in Britain for both World Wars and the post-WW2 conscription period. This includes The Tribunal (WW1), CBCO Bulletin (WW2), pamphlets and broadsheets of the No-Conscription Fellowship (WW1) and the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors (WW2) and of related organisations. Of particular interest also are personal papers of individual COs of both wars, including Tribunal statements, letters from custody and memoirs of experiences. [about COs]

A wide range of photographs and graphic from the first half of the 20th century are a part o fthe archive. See sample photographs

Users of the Archive range from journalists checking a small detail to biographers, or television producers making a major documentary; from school pupils on a GCSE project to researchers for doctoral theses; and from older members refreshing their own memory to novelists seeking to create true-to-life characters and contexts.

'The PPU's well-kept archives are unquestionably a unique and valuable historical resource: the Union was at its peak by far the world's largest absolute pacifist society and the one which had the highest profile in the intellectual life of its host nation. Its records shed light on progressive politics over a substantial period of change.'
Dr Martin Ceadel, author of Pacifism in Britain 1914-1945

'Only the Bodleian Library has a pacifist archive which comes near the PPU papers in its calibre and magnitude. The PPU is user-friendly, welcoming and accessible to outsiders.'
Dr David Bradshaw, author of forthcoming major biography of Aldous Huxley.

Access to the Archive is by appointment only. Initial enquiries to the Archivist may be made by letter or e-mail; some simple enquiries can be dealt with in the same way. Enquiries by telephone cannot necessarily be dealt with immediately, but messages may be left. The Archivist is prepared to advise whether reference to the Archive may be of relevance to a particular line of enquiry and to draw attention to particular material, or to suggest other sources where possible.
Access by the media and other commercial sources is always chargeable according to the work involved. Limited research on behalf of others may be undertaken subject to negotiation of fees. Where formal fees are not charged, users are encouraged to make a voluntary contribution towards the maintenance of the Archive. The Archive has also in part been built up by donations by individuals of documents, and the Archivist is always pleased to hear of material that may be on offer.

The Archivist, William Hetherington MA, combines an academic training in history with thirty years of radical pacifist activity, mainly in the PPU, and is therefore well placed to understand and interpret the wealth of experience and endeavour which the Archive represents.

Contact archivist


  P E A C E  P L E D G E  U N I O N  1 Peace Passage London N7 0BT, Britain.
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