XXXIII Conference, Stockholm, 2002 Conference Report

1. Conference Arrangements

The XXXIIIrd Annual IALHI Conference was hosted by the Swedish Labour Movement Archives and Library (Arbetarrörelsens arkiv och bibliotek - ARAB) in Stockholm and took place at the Peoples House in the former school of Norra Latin, from 5th to 7th September 2002. Stockholm was chosen as the venue of the conference in 2002 because of the centenary of the host organisation.
The conference programme (attachment no 1) followed largely the outline of earlier conferences, with some minor alterations. The traditional Wednesday evening reception was held in the premises of ARAB and gave the participants an opportunity to see the exhibitions in the institution, mirroring the history of ARAB and displaying some of its collections. Also, true to tradition, the Co-ordinating Committee met during Wednesday evening.
Thursday morning offered the possibility to participate in one of the two workshops, organised by Janneke Quast of IISG, Amsterdam and by Margareta Ståhl, of ARAB. For those who preferred individual programmes instead this gave an opportunity for study visits, meetings, etc.
The conference started formally on Thursday after lunch and consisted as usual on one hand of the General Assembly and on the other hand by the scientific part. The role as chair person was shared between the resigning Secretary General, Wouter Steenhaut, the new Secretary General, Karin Englund.
In addition to the conference programme proper, there were some arrangements of social character, with the ambition to add some labour movement touch. The dinner reception at City Hall on Thursday evening included a short introduction to how the city of Stockholm is run. In the speech of the deputy mayor, Berry Andersson, the participants were given a brief resumé of his political life, from the days when he joined the chimney sweepers union, his life long involvement with the Social Democratic party, till today's situation in the town hall, with elections coming up within a week. The Friday lunch was held at the Houses of Parliament, with the Minister for Culture, Marita Ulvskog, as hostess. She underlined in her speech the importance of a historical awareness quoting Olof Palme from the speech he held to the IALHI conference in Stockholm in 1980. On Friday evening a dinner was held at the Trade Union Confederation Head Quarters, hosted by Lars Starkerud, also the chairman of the board of the Labour Movement Archives and Library and Kjersti Bosdotter, from the Metal Workers Union and a member of the Trade Union Confederation's Culture committee.
The conference ended with Saturday's excursion. A guided boat trip presented some of the historical industrial sites in central Stockholm, as well as giving glimpses of the social history of the city's working class. The museum manager and former Minister for Justice, Anna-Greta Leijon, hosted the lunch at the open-air museum Skansen. After this followed a guided tour of the museum sites associated with the working class and the labour movement.
As organisers of the conference we at the ARAB are pleased with the attendance, with a total of 60 participants from 16 countries. We are glad that the weather was so nice, we are impressed by the active participation of all the IALHI members and we have many fond memories from the days we spent together in Stockholm. Programme and list of participants are attached (nos. 1 and 2).

2. General Assembly

The General Assembly was opened by the Secretary General, Wouter Steenhaut, who in his opening speech mentioned three reasons why this conference is special. The first reason is that it coincides with the centenary of ARAB. The second reason is that ARAB is one of the founding institutions of IALHI and the meeting in Stockholm is the third annual conference held in Stockholm. The third reason is the fact that ARAB's director, Karin Englund, now takes up the post of Secretary General for the coming five years.
Wouter Steenhaut also commented on the history and development of IALHI, on the future of the association and of how the new technique will bring new possibilities for common projects and international engagements.
He praised the Tampere conference as a successful one, and thanked especially the conference organisers, Pontus Blomster, Minna Kanhunaari and Kimmo Kestinen of the Central Museum of Labour in Tampere for a memorable conference.

2.1 Election of chairperson

According to tradition and statutes a representative of the host country chairs the conference. Karin Englund, director of Arbetarrörelsens arkiv och bibliotek was unanimously elected as chairperson of the XXXIIIrd Annual Conference of the IALHI.

2.2 Minutes of the Tampere conference 2001

The minutes and reports of the Tampere conference have been sent to all IALHI members. The reports of the XXXIInd conference were carried unanimously.

2.3 Annual Report 2001-2002

Wouter Steenhaut presented the annual report 2001-2003, and the financial statement by the 3 September 2003. The conference approved the reports.

2.3.1 Co-ordinating Committee

The Co-ordinating Committee consists of Kirill Anderson (RGASPI, Moscow), Karin Englund (ARAB, Stockholm) Francesca Gori (Feltrinelli, Milan) Jaap Kloosterman (IISH Amsterdam), Andrew Lee (Tamiment Library, New York), Wouter Steenhaut (Amsab, Gent), Rüdiger Zimmermann (FES, Bonn), Marien van der Heijden, (IISH, Amsterdam) Stephen Bird (NMHL, Manchester) and Frank Veyron (BDIC, Nanterre).
In connection with the report of the Secretary, Stephen Bird announced his retirement from the committee, from the conference in Dublin in 2003. During the conference Janette Martin of the Labour History Archives and Study Centre in Manchester was unanimously elected to proceed him at the Dublin conference.

2.3.2 Membership

By the end of 2001 IALHI had 71 paying members and by 2 September 2002 62 of those had paid their membership fees. During the period 2001-2002 three institutions have asked for affiliation to the IALHI:

  • Labour Research Service/Trade union Library (Woodstock, South Africa)
  • Manuscript Division, National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Collectif des centres de documentation en histoire ouvrié et sociale, CODHOS (Patis, France)

The Co-ordinating Committee's proposal was that these institutions be accepted as members. The conference vote of acceptance was unanimous. The new members were warmly welcomed to IALHI.

2.3.3 Publications and Communications

The IALHI newsletter.
Wouter Steenhaut reported that it has been difficult to find response for the IALHI newsletter and the proposal of the Coordinating committee is to use website formula alone and not continue with the printed issue of the newsletter. The conference approved of this new formula for the IALHI Newsletter.

2.3.4 Finance

Wouter Steenhaut reported that the financial situation is very sound and that the balance by September 3rd had been deposited in Stockholm on September 4th 2002.

2.3.5 Next conference

Fionnula Richardsson informed that the next conference will take place in Liberty Hall in Dublin in 3-7 September 2003 and welcomed the participants to Ireland. The following conferences will be held in Paris (2004), Gent (2005) and Zürich (2006).

2.3.6. Any other business

New Secretary General.
Wouter Steenhaut passed on the assignment as Secretary General to Karin Englund who expressed her gratitude to Wouter Steenhaut for all his work for IALHI and for holding the post of Secretary General on overtime for one extra year.

Thanks to Wouter Steenhaut.
Jaap Kloosterman spoke about the special occasion, the fact that four present or former Secretaries were together at the conference; Wouter Steenhaut, Karin Englund, Jaap Kloosterman himself and last, but not least the honorary member Karl Lang. He thanked Wouter Steenhaut for the dedicated work that he has done for the IALHI during the past six years, with patience and hard work in a devoted spirit. He also presented to Wouter Steenhaut some very Dutch gifts as a token of gratitude.

3. Projects

3.1 IALHI projects

3.1.1 The web-museum

Marien van der Heijden presented the present status of the web museum and emphasised that the museum has room for all ideas from all institutions. It can expand infinitely.

3.1.2 The IALHInet's Serials Service

The Serials Service offers tables of contents of some of the periodicals, often of member institutions. Marien van der Heijden pointed out that contributions and comments are welcome.

3.1.3 Labour History Index

The Labour history index has as yet no funding and has therefore not yet started.

3.2 Projects of IALHI members

3.2.1 Gender projects

The Genesis project
The Genesis project presented by Jennifer Haynes is still under construction and contains two parts. The first is a database with collection descriptions from archives, libraries and museums. Part two is a guide to sources and a common entry to gender research. The goal is to uniform and organise information and make it possible for researchers to identify and find relevant material. Useful url-addresses:,, and e-mail addresses: or

L'Association Archive du Féminisme
L'Association Archive du Féminisme, presented by Françoise Blum, was created three years ago, to collect documents and archives in a database. A large number of associations and organisations within the women's movement are represented. The second task for l'Archive is to list that which is available in France on the women's movement in a wide sense, since gender history is not well developed in France.

Gender material in Italy
Marie Louise Bettri informed that The Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli holds the most important material on women's emancipation in Italy. But The Centre for Documentation on Women in Milan is also an important association. They keep very important so-called grey material, documentation produced directly from the movement of political and social struggle of the feminist movement in the 1960s to 80s. It is a problem that people involved in gender research work spontaneously. We need to establish a network to better co-ordinate and organise our work.

The IALHI gender mapping project
The gender-mapping project offers a guide to sources for women's and gender history in IALHI institutions. It has the following url-address:

3.2.2 Presentation of the CODHOS

CODHOS is a federation of 30 institutions concerned with workers social history and with digitising old trade union congress reports and other archival material. Eventually the database and the research will be extended to international congresses, so the CODHOS would appreciate input from other IALHI members. Useful url-addresses are and

3.2.3 Presentation of TAM arkiv

One IALHI member took part in the annual conference for the first time, the TAM arkiv, which is the archives for white collar workers in Sweden. The TAM Archives - its purpose and history - was presented by the archivist and future head of the institution, Annelie Johansson.

3.2.4 Other member projects

A number of IALHI members informed about their work, such as Bevis Lucas from the South African Labour History Project, and their planned Study Circle Co-operation of South Africa and the Workers Education Union in Sweden. Chris Coates informed about The catalogue project: The Union Makes Us Strong, and Petri Tanskanen about the May Day Net 2002 project, which is an international project, initiated in Italy. Kirill Andersson informed about the completion of the Communist International, COMINTERN Archives project and Klaus Misgeld gave a brief account of a reseach project Kvinnor i manliga industrier - Women in male industry (Klaus Misgeld).

3.3 Presentation of the Swedish national Archives project and related international projects

The Swedish National Archives Projects (Arkis I+II) and related projects were presented by Göran Christiansson and Per-Gunnar Ottosson from the Swedish National Archives.
The first - now 10 years old - ARKIS project began by dealing with the question of producing international, descriptive standards for the retrieval and storing of archival material from all over the world. All the information was stored on CD-ROMs. The last compilation from the National Archival Database, from 1994, contains information on 180 000 fonds, 40 000 inventories and 6 000 microfilm records.
The aim of the next generation, ARKIS II, was to take the information in ARKIS I together with a microfilmed database and a database for magnetic tapes - both stored at the National Archives - and merge those three systems. And this time it was created as a web-based system. The time-consuming element in this is the moving of 6.5 million records into the new database.
The natural follow up from ARKIS was the EUAN project, the European ArchivesNet, a move from national to European level. EUAN's purposes are to bridge languages, cultures, geography and so on, to give all EU citizens access to the different national archives. The conclusion thus far is that this type of project can be done, but perhaps this is not the best way to do it.
Instead the next step at the moment is the LEAF project, Linking and Exploring Authority Files. Finding and creating access points in any archival material is crucial in making it available to researchers and the general public alike. Much work is being done towards this goal in the LEAF project. The EAC, Encoded Archival Context, is a data format that describes the construction, function and links in an archive with focus on the archive creator. Every type of person, organisation and corporate body can fit into this programme. The access point will for the most part be a name, which is what is most frequently asked for.
It is the hope of the project group that LEAF will be up and running from next year and then the common browser will show even the smallest archives and their contents. The major obstacle is the future financing of the project.

4. The Welfare State in Transition

The Welfare State in Transition - an international research project - was presented by professors Walter Korpi, Klas Åmark and Joakim Palme. This presentation constitutes the host country's own presentation.
Professor Åmark's presentation concerned the social security systems from a Swedish, Nordic and international perspective. Professor Korpi added to the picture a comparison between the 18 OECD countries from a perspective of class, gender and economy. What form of relief aid is given, how is it distributed, how are these programmes governed, are questions touched upon in the presentation. Professor Palme's subject of research is the unemployment crisis during the 1990s.
There are many parallels between the 1930s and the first half of the 1990s. During the second half of that decade the over all trend points toward a slump in areas such as unemployment, health and family economy. Some things did get better however, there was for example an increase in wages, the level of education rose, and the infant mortality rate was lowered. Over the period it became more and more obvious that the traditional social security systems no longer works.
The complete research project is more fully developed and presented in "The Welfare State at the Crossroads" by Walter Corpi and Klas Åmark, published by the Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 1402-0556 and in the Scandinavian Journal of History issue no 26; an article called "Social Rights and Social Security: The Swedish Welfare State, 1900-2000" by Urban Lundberg and Klas Åmark.

Stockholm, January 2003
Karin Englund
Secretary General