© 2005 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and
Archives, Cornell University Library
G. J. Holyoake. Papers,
Holyoake, George Jacob, 1817-1906.
6 microfilm reels
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management
Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
Microfilm copy of the George Holyoake Papers
at the Cooperative Union of Manchester and the Bishopsgate Institute of London.
Collection material in English
The growth of a liberal society during the Nineteenth Century is
epitomized in the life of George Jacob Holyoake, 1817-1906. The numerous stages
in his career, from that of despised atheist to that of respected Liberal
journalist and propagator of International Co-operation, touch on many of the
social and intellectual developments of the Victorian age.
An Owenite Lecturer and latter-day Chartist, Holyoake took a leading
part in the Free Press struggle, and the abolition of the compulsory oath in
courts of law. An active friend of foreign revolutionaries and a prominent
supporter of Italian unification, above all, he was a founder, and the most
important propagator of the Cooperative and Co-partnership Movements, both at
home and abroad. He was, in addition, involved in scores of lesser agitations,
and was a Parliamentary lobbyist par excellence.
The work of his lifetime was liberalism, the practical working out of
Mill's famous "Essay": freedom to express beliefs and shape public opinion;
civil rights for all, irrespective of beliefs and class, and that degree of
economic freedom which he believed true Co-operation could bring.
Intellectually, he enjoyed the friendships of J.S. Mill and F. W. Newman, both
of whom influenced his own thought and outlook, and his correspondents included
Joseph Cowen, Joseph Mazzini, Robert Owen, Mr. Gladstone, Sir John Macdonald,
Justin McCarthy and numerous leading Radical and Co-operative Members of
Parliament, such as W. Morrison, C.W. Dilke, J. Chamberlain, S. A. Beaumont,
As a founder of the "Leader" newspaper in 1850, he provided a link
between the emerging working-classes, never very religious, and the
middle-class intellectuals, who were beginning to express their now much
Correspondence and diaries of George J. Holyoake.
The Bishopsgate Institute collection is complementary to that in
Manchester, highlighting specific episodes and movements. The diaries give a
brief chronology of Holyoake's movements, lectures and friends, but the log
books, lecture notes, etc., provide a much fuller picture of the artisan
culture and ethos of self-education, which existed in Birmingham in the late
1830's. The documents on Italy, the Taxes on Knowledge and the Gravelling Tax
Abolition Committee, supply details of three of the movements which are typical
of Holyoake's works.