Andrew Rothstein was born in 1898 in London and died there in 1994. He was the son of Theodore Rothstein, a political refugee from Russia, member of the Russian Social Democratic Party and a close associate of Lenin. Andrew went to school in Islington and was a history scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. He was conscripted in the first world war and led the first of the army mutinies when he called on troops not to embark to join British expeditionary forces invading Soviet Russia.
John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) was one of the most eminent scientists of the twentieth century whose research had a groundbreaking impact across the medical humanities, from x-ray crystallography research, to the impact of war on human life. He was a passionate socialist and visionary of the beneficial role of science in society and a driving force in world-wide peace campaigning.
James Klugmann (1912-1977) was a historian of the Communist Party. He joined the party in 1933 while at Cambridge University and was Secretary of the World Student Association in the late 1930s. He was in charge of Education for the Communist Party, jointly with Jack Cohen, from 1946 to 1968 and introduced what were then innovatory group-based learning methods. He worked for the Communist Party as speaker, educator and writer, and edited ‘Marxism Today’ 1957-77. A member of the Marx Memorial Library Committee 1967-77, he was an avid collector of books, pamphlets and ephemera.
Born in Glasgow in 1903 and moved to Seattle (USA) at the age of ten, John Williamson joined the Socialist Labor Party of America in 1918 and played an important role in the struggles of the automobile, steel and electrical workers, and of the unemployed during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
According to the MML Quarterly Bulletin, Williamson was "seeking for the basic causes that made such struggles necessary". In 1921 he decided to join the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), which managed to survive despite the hostility of the American administration.
The original collection was donated by the Graphical, Paper and Media Sector of Unite in 2009. Through the many small, local and craft unions and societies the print and paper unions could trace their history back to the days of the introduction of printing to the British Isles by William Caxton and the development of the papermaking industry.