Welcome to the Sparrows' Nest Library and Archive

Based in Nottingham (UK), we look after tens of thousands of books, journals, pamphlets, zines, leaflets, posters and other items documenting the anarchist movement in the UK and beyond, as well as local radical history. Browse our catalogue, access digitised records in our free Digital Library and get in touch to arrange a visit.
Advanced search (Alternatively, you can access parts of our Digital Library at the Internet Archive.)
Digital Library only

Well, we know this is being posted one day late, but it fitted so nicely with us adding another 223 issues of Freedom to our Digital Library, that we postponed posting this just a wee bit too long. Nevermind, due to the efforts of a levely volunteer we have another Document Of The Month for you! Many thanks again!

Freedom Vol: 37 #409, August 2023

August’s Document Of The Month is an issue of Freedom.

I chose this specific document simply because it was published in August 1923, exactly 100 years ago and I find it particularly interesting to consider it as a 'then and now' piece, just as one example of how this source could be used.

At this point in its history, Freedom was a monthly journal which would cost the burgeoning revolutionary two pence to purchase. It was founded in 1886 by Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin (amongst others), with Wilson remaining the editor until 1895.

Originally published at 127 Ossulation Street, London, Freedom moved headquarters in 1927 when the building was demolished. However, this address is of particular historic interest as its previous occupants were Olivia, Helen and Arthur Rossetti, not only the nieces and nephew of Pre-Raphaelites Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti but also the publishers of their own anarchist journal, The Torch (1891-1896).

So, what did Freedom have to say for itself 100 years ago?

One article looks at the 'Tyranny of Passports', in which it takes a quote from The Times, 'before the war, the only country where passports were necessary was Russia, and rightly it was thought that this was a sign that that unfortunate country was wallowing in barbarism.' Calling for the abolishment of passports, it laments that 'during the war millions have laid down their lives, not so much for King and country, as for liberty…'. Further looking at Russia, the article 'Russia To-Day' is a continuation of a series of articles, this time looking at labour, trade unions, and the state.

Repression, police powers, freedom of movement and, well, Russia, are all topics that to this day are still regularly discussed. One part I particularly liked was a short disclaimer added under the title which states that the 'Editors are not necessarily in agreement with signed articles', which to me reads like a modern-day Twitter/X bio of someone whose 'thoughts are their own'. What, if any, similarities did you notice?

Here at the Sparrows' Nest, we are currently in the process of digitising our complete collection of Freedom.

Watch this space as there is plenty more to come over the next few months!


Freedom: A History of Freedom Press

Goodway, David. 'Freedom, 1886-2013: an Appreciation', History Workshop Journal, 79:1 2015, 233-242.

Image of Charlotte Wilson retrieved from Wikipedia.

EU e-Privacy Directive