George Howell Archive Cataloguing Project Update: November 2006

The George Howell Project has continued with the cataloguing of some particularly fascinating sections of the collection, including artefacts such as portraits of Howell and his beautiful, roll-top desk.

Material pertaining to Howell’s work with the Reform Demonstration Committee, the International Working Men’s Association, and smaller organisations such as the Gas Stokers Defence Committee have been worked through, along with many pamphlets, press cuttings and posters relating to his political career.

A series of papers relating to Howell’s biography of the radical and writer Ernest Jones, as well as numerous pamphlets written by, or about Howell were also very interesting reading.

Howell’s engagement diaries have also been catalogued, as well as the journals of his son, G.W.T. Howell; the elder Howell’s diaries are somewhat sparsely written, although both father and son keep most fastidious records of the daily weather conditions.

Great Reform Demonstration, 1884Photograph of the ‘Great Reform Demonstration’, 1884
Howell worked with the Reform Demonstration Committee which campaigned for the Third Reform Bill and several photographs are found in the collection of the Great Reform Demonstration which flooded the streets of central London on 21 July 1884.

The photo above shows the sheer scale of the Demonstration in Trafalgar Square, with huge banners with slogans, horses and carts and brass musical instruments, barely visible above the sea of men and women’s hats.

The banners held so proudly aloft were to advertise the presence at the demonstration of the various regional groups associated with the Reform movement; the one shown here is the handiwork of the ‘Kent and Sussex Labourers’.

Howell Election address, 1892Pamphlet soliciting votes for George Howell, 1892
A large amount of election material is included in the collection, created by or regarding Howell in his efforts to achieve a place in Parliament.

Press cuttings, posters, hand bills and pamphlets track the politician’s progress before, during and after his election to the seat in North-East Bethnal Green, in which he was to stay for ten years.

The item shown to the left is a four-page pamphlet written by Howell in his efforts to gain the electorate’s confidence, in the period leading up to the General Election of 1892. Howell itemises his legislative achievements to date and confidently concludes his bid for support, with the words: “I make no promises that I cannot perform; give no pledges that I cannot redeem; but in so far as I am able, I will continue to devote all my energies to the cause of Labour and of human progress”.

Such bold words were to win him the re-election he desired, with a majority of 597 votes.


Reform League medals and ribbonReform League Ribbon, Badge and Medal awarded to Howell, 1884
Howell’s work as Secretary of the Reform League led to his being awarded a number of badges, medals and ribbons in recognition of his efforts.

The image to the left shows three such items presented to Howell:






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