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History of the Commonweal Collection

A library for a nonviolent world

The Commonweal library grew from the collection of its founder, David Hoggett (1929-75), a librarian and dedicated pacifist. His early interest in pacifism and nonviolence was fostered by the 3 years he spent working in India for the International Voluntary Service for Peace where he became involved in the Bhoodan "Land gift" movement based on Gandhian ideals of working collectively for the good of the community.

David Hoggett began his collection back in England in the 1950s, after he became paralysed as the result of a fall. With his mobility restricted, he read avidly and began amassing a large collection of books and pamphlets and a diverse range of journals on aspects of nonviolent social change, peace and reconciliation. As the peace movement of the 1960s grew, David began to lend out his books to activists, students and scholars. With the help of friends, he established a postal library service and this became his life's work. At his death in 1975, this library comprised over 3,000 titles, all meticulously classified and catalogued, according to his own system.

After his death, the Trustees of the Collection found the library a new home in the library of the University of Bradford, where the first School of Peace Studies had recently been established. Thanks to the J.B. Priestley Library and the hard work of trustees, co-ordinators and many volunteers, this unique collection has been able to remain intact and to maintain its independence and autonomy. In 1997, Commonweal became a registered charity.

Over time, the Collection's dedication to nonviolent social change has expanded to include books on the causes of violence injustice and war as well as on ways to achieve social change nonviolently and to reflect the changes in the world and our perception of it.

The collection also houses a unique archive about various movements for social change and peace, much used by researchers and some graphic material, such as the original designs for the nuclear disarmament logo and sketches by Gerald Holtom for the first Aldermaston march. Enquiries about accessing archives should be directed to Special Collections.

In 2001 the sculpture "peace", by the founder's brother, Chris Hoggett, was unveiled in the library, where it is still exhibited.


Further reading

Barlow, S. (1996) The Commonweal Collection: A Short History, Bradford : Commonweal Collection (available in the collection at Jh BAR).

Clement E., & Cullingford A., (2007) A library for peace : the Commonweal Collection Information for Social Change 25 pp 79-86.