Black Flag newspaper was founded by Albert Meltzer, Stuart Christie and others in 1970, incorporating the Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross (the Bulletin was later revived as an independent publication). It has been kept going most recently by a very determined Iain McKay (also the author of the Anarchist FAQ) with an editorial collective and contributors including the Anarchist Federation. As such it remains one of the longest running and most significant anarchist publications in Britain. Can you help us complete the collection?

A partial digital archive of Black Flag issues can be found on LibCom, other partially scanned issues can be found in our Digital Library (they are tricky to digitise because of their size and shape, but we will get there).

The Black Flag collection at the Sparrows’ Nest:

What we have…

We hold numerous issues of Black Flag in various collections. Please see below for a recent inventory. This list contains our early copies of the Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross. For the more recent issues of the Bulletin (1990s, many of them digitised), please see our catalogue and the Digital Library.

In addition to format size/shape there are a number of other technical niceties when it comes to cataloguing Black Flag (at times called The Black Flag). These include frequent changes to the subtitle The Anarchist Fortnightly, Organ of the Anarchist Black Cross, etc. and publication intervals fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, twice yearly, annually - some readers may also remember “excitingly irregular”!

Regarding early issues before the ABC Bulletin became Black Flag, given that a number of Bulletins were neither dated nor numbered, it appears that there a Volume I of Black Flag so named never existed, and that the editors simply counted the various ABC Bulletins as Volume I, but if you know better, please contact us!

Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross:

1969-70; issues 4, 5, 8, 9.

Black Flag (with approximate date ranges):

Vol. 2; 1971-3; issues 1-9, 14-16

Vol. 3; 1973-5; complete (19 issues).

Vol. 4; 1975-6; complete (15 issues).

Vol. 5; 1977-9; issues 1-8, 10-13.

Vol. 6; 1980-3; issues 1, 10, 12, plus one Supplement numbered 3.

Vol. 7; 1983-1984; issues 2D, 2E, 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E, 3F, 3G, 4 (quarterly), 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D; 5 (quarterly) 5D-5G (108-111), 6C (114), 6E (116), 6F(117), 7 (quarterly), 7A (119), 7A again (120), 7D (122), 126. Later issues 1985-2016; 130, 134, 139-161, 163-179, 181, 185-221, 223-237.

…and what we would like to have

Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross:

Issues 1-3, 6, 7 and any issues that may exist after 9.

Black Flag (with approximate date ranges):

Vol. 2: issues 10-13.

Vol. 5: issue 9.

Vol. 6: issues 2-9 and any issues after 12 plus any other Supplements before no. 3.

Vol. 7: issues 2A-2C, 3A, 4E (and any later 4x issues), 5A-5C (maybe same as 105-7), 6A (112), 6B (113), 6D (115), 6G (118), 7C (121), 7E (123), 124, 125, 127. Any earlier quarterlies 1-3 although these may not exist.

Later issues: 128, 129, 131-133, 135-138, 162, 180, 182-184, 222.

To manage to get a full collection would be really good for the movement, because it possibly doesn’t exist anywhere yet. So if you hold any of these missing copies and could bear parting with them, or if we could digitise anything from your collection, please contact us!