Title: Mattison Collection
Classmark: BC MS Mattison
Creator(s): Mattison, Alfred (1868-1944)
Size and medium: 27 boxes
The Alf Mattison collection is the archive of Leeds socialist and local historian Alf Mattison (1868-1944). His major achievement was to amass a collection documenting the development of British socialism and the history of the Labour Party and the Independent Labour Party. He held life-long friendships with prominent socialists and those well known in the labour movement, including Edward Carpenter, John Lister, Philip Snowden and Ramsay MacDonald, all of whom are represented in his collection. Throughout his life, Mattison compiled a significant library of printed books, periodicals and pamphlets charting the history of the Labour movement. The bulk of this library, along with Mattison's archive, was purchased by Lord Brotherton in 1929, who recognised its value to students studying the history of socialism and the labour movement.
Mattison's archive contains, in large part, the hundreds of news cuttings he diligently collected on the key figures and organisations of the time, including Edward Carpenter, Ramsay MacDonald, William Morris, Philip Snowden, the Independent Labour Party and the Social Democratic Federation. He was also interested in the early origins of the Labour movement, and developed a section of records dedicated to the socialist and writer John Francis Bray, which includes some of his family letters.
He received letters from important labour figures of the time, many of whom were trusted, life-long friends. His correspondents included Edward Carpenter, Isabella Ford, James Keir-Hardie, John Lister, Ramsay MacDonald, Charles Oates, Olive Schreiner, S.C. Conwright Schreiner, Henry and Kate Salt and Philip Snowden. He assiduously transcribed many of the letters he received in a volume that survives within the collection. Large numbers of original letters survive for Edward Carpenter and John Lister with whom he closely corresponded.
As well as news cuttings on individuals and organisations, he collected cuttings relating to the major events of the time. He compiled several volumes charting the history of the first and second Labour governments. There are many folders of loose cuttings, grouped according to a variety of themes. These include cuttings on the general strike of 1926, Leeds local history and personalties, and on the 'Walsall Anarchists'. Many cuttings contain Mattison's personal annotations and observations.
Mattison was a keen amateur photographer and his photographs appear throughout the collection, along with a large number of glass slides of images he produced. The collection also includes some of his personal notebooks which act to document his life, and his significant contribution to the labour movement.
His library of over 1,000 printed books is also held by Leeds University Library. Items can be viewed in companion to his archive in Special Collections.
Alf Mattison was born in Hunslet, close to Leeds, in 1868. After spending some of his early years as an apprentice engineer, he worked for most of his life at Leeds City Tramways Department. It was in his late teens that he became interested in politics and the labour movement, befriending Tom Maguire and other local labour figures. At 17 he joined William Morris' Socialist League. He was influential in the early development of the Independent Labour Party, attending the inaugural conference of the party in Bradford, in 1893. He was friends with important figures in the labour and socialist movement, including Edward Carpenter, John Lister, Philip Snowden and Ramsay MacDonald. An enthusiastic local historian in later life, he gave many talks in Leeds on local and labour history.
By the time of his death in 1944 he had amassed a large collection of books, photographs and original documents that provide a unique insight into the history of socialism, both nationally and locally.
Catalogues of archives are usually arranged in hierarchies - one hierarchy for each collection in the archive. The details on display will be of a record at a particular level of the hierarchy. There may be other records above, below, or alongside this record in the same hierarchy. The full hierarchy is shown below.
Books, manuscripts and archives in Special Collections are usually grouped together in collections. Catalogue records for individual objects link to a collection record, which show the object's context, and associated material.
You can see the full hierarchy under 'In this collection'.
Catalogues of archives are usually arranged in hierarchies - one hierarchy for each collection in the archive. The details on display will be of a record at a particular level of the hierarchy. There may be other records above, below, or alongside this record in the same hierarchy. You can see the full hierarchy under 'In this collection'.