Economic and industrial history

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Manuscript collections

The Library has a wealth of primary sources for the study of Britain's economic and industrial history.

Major sources for the textile industry are the archives of Samuel Oldknow, McConnel & Kennedy, Sun Mill, Rylands & Sons, W.M. Christy & Sons, and the Fielden Brothers of Todmorden, and also the Greater Manchester Mill Survey Archive, which contains information on all textile mills still extant in the county during the 1980s.

These are supplemented by a variety of smaller collections. There are significant holdings relating to coal and iron (Thomas Botfield & Co.), pharmaceuticals (James Woolley, Sons & Co. and Manchester Pharmaceutical Association), engineering (William Dale & Sons and the B.R. Faunthorpe collection re Joseph Whitworth), African railways and mining (Tanks Group), ceramics (Josiah Wedgwood), international trade (Heald Family Papers, Hodgson, Robinson & Co., John Micklethwaite, Owen Owens and Pietro Tealdi), and watermills and windmills (E. Mitford Abraham).

The development of the computer industry, in which Manchester played a pioneering role, is comprehensively recorded in the National Archive for the History of Computing.

Trade union archives date from the earliest years of the mass organization of labour and cover textiles (the Bolton and District Operative Cotton Spinners' Provincial Association and the Amalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners), engravers, and professional and clerical staff. Trade and employers' organizations include the Ashton Textile Employers' Association, the Oldham Textile Employers' Association and the Manchester Pharmaceutical Association.

The Library also holds a collection of documents submitted to the public inquiry which considered the proposed second runway at Manchester Airport, and the archives of two committees charged with examining and improving accounting standards and auditing practices.

See also, the papers of the scientists Sir William Boyd Dawkins (coal industry and water-supply industry in the 19th century), and R.S. Hutton (electro-chemistry and metallurgy in the first half of the 20th century).

The substantial archives of Edgar Morton and Peter Rowe are relevant to a wide range of industries for which they provide consultancy services, especially civil engineering, construction, water supply and electricity generation.

Printed resources

The Library holds numerous secondary sources which support its rich holdings of archive materials relating to the textile industry. There are also individual works on general economic and industrial history, and on specific industries such as engineering and chemical manufacture.

Special attention should, however, be drawn to the Kenneth Brown Railway Collection, and to several associated collections. These contain a wealth of information on all aspects of railway history and operations, and in particular on the early development of railways in Britain. They include monographs, periodicals, Parliamentary papers and plans, and much ephemera.