- 1884-2002 (mainly 1940-1990) (accumulated -2002, mainly 1960-1984) (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
1.1 cubic metres (120 boxes)
Name of creator
Herbert Pearce, or Bert Pearce as he was known, was the full time Welsh Secretary of the Communist Party from 1960 to 1984. He was born on 6 January 1919 in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire and died on 21 August 2002 in Cardiff.
Bert Pearce was educated at the Pembroke Dock County School. His father, originally from Swansea, was a county school teacher and a lay preacher, and his mother was from the South Wales valleys. They were both active Labour Party members and supporters of the peace movement, and Bert Pearce was a Labour Party member himself until he joined the Communist Party in 1938. In 1946 he married Margaret née Forbister [1918-1996] from Rhymney who was a schoolteacher and a life long socialist, with whom he had two children, David and Marian.
He became the full-time area secretary for Wolverhampton from 1938 to 1949, and was employed by the Communist Party Great Britain from then onwards. He was a member of Handsworth (Sheffield) branch, 1938-1945, Midlands District Education and Propaganda Organiser, 1938-1945, a member of the Midlands District Secretariat, 1938-1945, a member of the organisation department of the Midlands district, 1938-1949, Midlands District Industrial Officer, 1949-1952, a member of the Sparkbrook (Birmingham) branch, 1945-1949, and was Birmingham City Secretary from 1953 to 1960.
He was a life-long trade unionist, being an active member of the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union, a Trades Council delegate prior to the bans being imposed by the Communist Party, and served on the Birmingham Trades Council. Later, when he worked in the South Wales Bookshop, he was a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.
He wrote and edited several pamphlets on industrial work in the Midlands, and was very interested in housing and education policy. His first mass campaign in the Party was the Birmingham Rent Strike of 1939. During his time in Birmingham he also took the lead in the movement against unemployment in the motor industry in 1952-1953, and wrote a pamphlet called 'Jobs for Midlands Workers'. He edited and introduced the first Birmingham pamphlet on the colour bar.
In the 1955 and 1959 General Election Bert Pearce contested the Perry Barr Parliamentary Constituency in Birmingham, and stood four times for the municipal elections in Birmingham. He was the Communist candidate in the Swansea East constituency by-election in March 1963, the 1970 General Election in Neath, and Cardiff South ward, May 1968.
He was a member of the Cardiff branch when he became the full time Welsh Secretary of the Communist Party. His main responsibilities were agendas and progressing of the Welsh Committee and Secretariat, the general political line, propaganda, industrial and social service issues, editing 'Party News', and Young Communist League (YCL) building campaign. He also played an active part in the struggles against unemployment, against pit and factory closures, and for economic and socialist planning for Wales. He was a strong advocate of a Trades Union Congress for Wales, and a Parliament for Wales, and was prominent in the movements for peace, in the Peoples March for Jobs, against racialism and Apartheid, and with the Democratic Left Wales.
Bert Pearce accumulated Communist Party papers during the 1990s when various party offices closed. The collection was partly arranged by him before the papers came to the Library.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Donated by Mr Bert Pearce, Cardiff, between 1996 and 2002, and by his daughter, Mrs Marian Darke, April 2003.; A1996/127, A1997/116, A1998/83, A2000/84, 0200204898 and 0200303702.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The fonds comprises papers accumulated by Bert Pearce including the minutes and papers of the Communist Party Great Britain, 1921-1998, Communist Party Wales, 1884-2002, and the Democratic Left, 1978-1999. Also included are papers relating to elections, devolution in Wales and Scotland, industry, miners strikes, anti-apartheid, international affairs, peace movement, Peoples March for Jobs, and the poll tax campaign. The accumulated papers reflect Bert Pearce's life work for the Communist Party in Birmingham and Wales, as well as the active part he played in the campaigns listed above. The archive does not contain personal material.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Action: Multiple copies, photocopies and junk mail have been destroyed, as authorised in appraisal form NMW/2003-04/14. Documents of a purely personal nature have been returned by NLW to the family..
Accruals are not expected
System of arrangement
Arranged at NLW into three groups: Communist Party Great Britain, Communist Party Wales District and Democratic Left Wales. -- In the case of the committee minutes, congress papers and election leaflets the order imposed by Bert Pearce has been retained and added to. Other parts of the archive were in disarray and were arranged at NLW so that papers similar in subject and date are described together. Two groups, namely the subject files and the party education files, are miscellaneous in subject and the most notable topics are described on file level. The order of the papers within all the files is the original order except where specified on file level.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
A hard copy of this list is available at NLW and at the South Wales Miners Library, University College of Swansea.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
The title of every unit of description is supplied from the contents, and where known the original file title is retained. When the original file title is used this will be noted on file level with the use of single quotation marks.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Place access points
Name access points
- Pearce, Bert -- Archives. (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Compiled by Nia Mai Williams.
The following sources were used in the compilation of this catalogue: Joe Berry, 70 Years of Struggle : Britain's Communist Party 1920-1990 (London, 1991); Henry Pelling, The British Communist Party : a historical profile (London, 1975); Kevin Morgan, Harry Pollitt (Manchester, 1993); Geoff Andrews, Nina Fishman and Kevin Morgan, Opening the books : essays on the social and cultural history of British communism (London, 1995); Will Paynter, My Generation (London, 1972); Welsh District 'Party News', November 1960; R. Merfyn Jones, Cymru 2000 : Hanes Cymru yn yr Ugeinfed Ganrif (Caerdydd, 1999); Beti Jones, Etholiadau'r ganrif / Welsh elections 1885-1997 (Talybont 1999); National Library of Wales 'Campaign!' website; Daily Worker, Friday, 20 May 1955.