History of Facism & Anti-Fascism: Collections

These collections feature an array of materials and documents related to the extreme right as well as anti-fascist organizations, including a selection of fascist propaganda. The archives listed below offer unique perspectives during pivotal points in European history with the aim of helping researchers gain a better understanding of how these events shaped—and continue to shape—political ideology.  

Of particular note is the Searchlight Archive, which, through an ongoing partnership with Searchlight magazine, has developed one of the most extensive and significant collections in regard to the activities of British and international fascist regimes, as well as racist organizations globally.

The History of Fascism Collections provide researchers with a valuable insight into fascist politics and ideologies, as well as the history of anti-fascism, both in Britain and further afield.

  • Fascist and Anti-Fascist Booklets

    The first anti-fascists emerged with the rise of dictator Mussolini in Italy and this collection contains booklets from both fascist and anti-fascist activist groups from as early as 1918. Coverage includes a broad spectrum of political propaganda penned by notable individuals, such as Arnold Leese and William Joyce, along with the output of their opposition, such as the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

    The collection is vital for those researching right-wing movements, anti-fascist activism, racism, Anti-Semitism, and radical politics as well as British and European history in general throughout the twentieth century, providing them with both fascist propoganda and anti-fascist material, in order to fully understand the topic.

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  • Leaflets, Stickers, Posters, Electoral Ephemera from Fascist and Anti-Fascist Groups

    While the first anti-fascists emerged with the rise of dictator Mussolini in Italy, the resurgence of neo-fascism in Britain in the 1960s led to the creation of the 62 Group, a non-fascist coalition, in 1962. Started in response to this rise in neofascism, they appointed Gerry Gable to work with their intelligence operation. This led to the formation of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, alongside Searchlight Associates, an information service aimed at exposing racist and fascist groups. Searchlight Associates collected material from a wide range of radical right groups, primarily in Britain but also Italy and internationally. They especially focused on the British National Party, Combat 18, the English Defence League, as well as activist groups with opposing ideology. The results of these investigations formed the Searchlight Archive, which is a major body of material documenting the activities of British and international fascist and racist organizations. It is also a unique archive and is one of the most extensive and significant resources of its type in Europe. The archive features an array of material and documents related to the history of the extreme right.

    This collection contains leaflets, stickers, posters, electoral ephemera and other political propaganda from politically right leaning groups, such as the British Movement, British National Party, Combat 18, England First, International Third Positionists, National Front, National Socialist Movement, and the National Socialist Party of Australia. These materials offer unique insight into the beliefs, actions, and campaigning strategies of several racist and fascist movements, and others supporting right-wing extremism, in addition to mapping the evolution of extreme right movements throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century.

    This collection is highly important, not only for those interested in the history of far-right movements in Britain and abroad, but any researcher attempting to understand global politics in the twentieth century.

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  • Searchlight Magazine

    Searchlight was founded in 1964 as an occasional newspaper publication, but from 1975 to present it has been published as a monthly magazine. Its primary purpose is to investigate and publish exposés on anti-Semitic, racist, and fascist movements operating both in Britain and abroad,. The first anti-fascists emerged with the rise of Benito Mussolini in Italy.

    The 62 Group, an anti-fascist coalition set up in 1962 in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain, appointed Gerry Gable to work with their intelligence operation. In 1964, he established a press agency to make the information being gathered available to the public in the form of the Searchlight newspaper, under the editorship of Reginald Freeson MP. It was relaunched as a monthly magazine in 1975 and continues to publish today.

    Coverage has included a number of British far-right groups, including the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18, and the English Defence League (EDL); and international fascist and racist organisations, such as the Norwegian Nazi Party and the Australian National Socialist Party. Searchlight’s network includes several anti-racist organizations from around the world and has published many notable journalists, including Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, whose magazine Expo is often considered Searchlight’s sister publication.

    Researchers interested in the evolution of far-right groups around the world during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century will find this publication indispensable for its coverage of a wide range of groups, individuals, and topics.

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  • Searchlight Oral Histories Collection

    Searchlight Associates collected material from a wide range of radical Right groups, primarily in Britain but also Italy and internationally, to create Searchlight magazine. They especially focused on the British National Party, Combat 18, and the English Defence League as well as the activist groups which opposed them. The first anti-fascists emerged under Mussolini's dictatorship in Italy.

    In 2015, in collaboration with Gerry Gable and using Searchlight’s network, researchers from the University of Northampton recorded interviews with activists active from 1940’s–1990s. These are exclusive recordings with individuals who campaigned against fascist ideology, discussing the history of anti-fascism and what caused them to get engaged in the movement.

    The oral history project’s collection includes recordings taken during interviews with members of the original 43 Group (Jewish anti-fascists who opposed Mosley after World War I), informants who acted as anti-fascist moles infiltrating groups such as the British National Party, and anti-racist campaigners who formed advocacy groups in response to racial violence like the Stephen Lawrence murder.

    This collection is an important resource for researchers of British history and politics in the twentieth century as well as those looking to promote new research into Britain’s current multicultural society and extreme Right politics.

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  • Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda

    The Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda from the John Hay Library at Brown University began as a collection of material gathered by Gordon Hall. After returning from World War II, Hall investigated hate groups in the United States for Friends of Democracy, an anti-totalitarian group. He built a substantial collection of propaganda materials, mainly focused on anti-integrationist, anti-Semitic, and racist groups, such as the American Fascist Union and Ku Klux Klan organizations.

    The Hall-Hoag Collection is a treasure trove of primary source materials for academic researchers of modern American extremism. Extremist literature has always been difficult to find because its authors intend the material to be read by a limited number of true believers. Consequently, print runs tend to be small and erratic. It takes a dedicated effort to amass and organize collections of this type. Most of the extremist literature in this collection ranges from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s - the most heated days of the civil rights movement. Publications in this collection represent a cross-section of extremist opinion towards integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains materials on American anti-Semitism, Christian Identity theology, neo-Nazi groups, and white supremacy movements.

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  • British Home Office Registered Papers Regarding British Fascists and Suspected Nazi Sympathizers

    This collection comprises of Home Office papers on individuals detained during World War II because of their involvement with right-wing groups such as the British People's Party, the British Union, the Fascist January Club, the Imperial Fascist League, the Link, the National Socialist League, the Nordic League, and the Right Club.

    Defence Regulation 18B was one of the Defence Regulations used by the British Government during World War II that allowed the internment of people suspected of being Nazi sympathizers. Individuals could be detained without being formally charged with a crime.

    This collection is essential for researchers examining Britain during World War II and twentieth-century political movements.

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  • British Security Service Personal Files. Subseries on Right Wing-Extremists, Communists and Suspected Communists, and Soviet and Other Communist Front Organisations

    The Security Service: Personal (PF Series) Files series contains selected files from the First and Second World War periods and the inter-war years on suspected spies, renegades, communist sympathizers, right-leaning extremists, and other groups in which the British Security Service took an interest, including pacifist and anti-conscription groups.

    The records of the Security Service, better known as MI5, are grouped topically and this collection provides access to the ‘Right-Wing Extremists’, ‘Soviet and Other Communist Front Organisations’, and ‘Communists and Suspected Communists, including Russian and Communist Sympathises’ subseries. These series cover a period of about 50 years (1910s to 1960s) and details the surveillance of several notable groups (British Union of Fascists, Imperial Fascist League, and the Communist Party of Great Britain) and individuals (Oswald Mosely, Arnold Leese, George Orwell, Alan Nunn May, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Sylvia Pankhurst, Doris Lessing, and Unity Mitford) who were considered a threat by the British government.

    The records cover a range of subjects and span the Second World War and post-war era up to the mid-1960s. Due to these being personal files on private individuals they were initially closed for an obligatory time period, but have been made available to the public in recent years.

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