The National Liberal Club Pamphlets

(Collection description created in 2002. Links checked 2009)


University of Bristol, Arts and Social Sciences Library, Special Collections and University of Bristol Library Store

Publication date range

ca 1750-1975 (predominantly nineteenth century)

Number of items

ca 28,600 (some are bound in volumes, and are kept in the Special Collections section)

Description of the collection

These pamphlets have been with the University of Bristol Library since 1977, when they were purchased, with books, from the National Liberal Club. This club had been formed in London in the nineteenth century to provide a central location for Liberals to promote their interests, and "to found......a political and historical library, to be called the Gladstone Library, as a permanent memorial of the services which the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone has rendered his country". Opened in 1888, the Gladstone Library, over the following years, established an impressive collection of books and pamphlets, the latter becoming important primary source material for scholars researching in the field of modern history. Our American academic, referring to the pamphlets, described them as "one of the great resources of ephemera for nineteenth century history".

The Library's National Liberal Club pamphlet collection is especially strong on nineteenth century commerce, economics, finance, politics, religion, and sociology. It includes publications not only by and about the Liberal Party, but also the Conservative and Labour Parties. To give more details, we have material on early railways, Indian affairs, Irish nationalism and Home Rule, W.E. Gladstone, Charles Bradlaugh, slavery, Colonial matters, contagious diseases, vaccination, sanitation, marriage law reform, church disestablishment, education, positivism, and numerous other topics. Many items are reprints of sermons, speeches, letters, and proceedings of meetings. Altogether this collection is a unique record of the liberal tradition of English society and thought.


  • Wilkins, David. 'The National Liberal Club pamphlets', SCONUL Newsletter, no.9, Winter 1996, p.37-38
  • Wilkins, David. 'Pamphlet problems', Librarian's World, vol.6, no.6, 1997, p.118-119


The pamphlets are from the libraries of, amongst others, Charles Bradlaugh, Sir Lyon Playfair, R. Spence Watson, Sir Stafford Northcote, Earl de Grey and Ripon, John Noble, the Liberation Society, the Land Nationalization Society, and the Cobden Club. There are also many individual items given by W.E. Gladstone, the Earl of Rosebery, and other prominent politicians.

Language(s) of the material

Predominantly English, with some items in French, German and Italian


The pamphlets that are housed in the Special Collections Section are for consultation only. They are not available for inter-library loan. Reproduction may be possible, subject to considerations of conservation. Those kept in the Library's remote Store will be available for inter-library loan, but only for use in the borrowing institution's own library. They may also be photocopied, subject to the same conservation considerations. With regard to Store material, when a work is found on the catalogue, inquirers will need to make a request for it at the Art and Social Sciences Library Issue Desk. It may take up to five days before an item is available.

Library's online catalogue

Search the library's online catalogue, click on the link to library catalogue.

Some pamphlets from this collection have been digitised

Copac is a national, academic & special library catalogue

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