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The Bishopsgate Blog provides an added insight into all of our activities, Library, Courses, Events and Schools and Community Learning. Our regular blogs will feature speakers from our Cultural Events, photographs, documents, letters, posters and ephemera from the Library, up-to-date news and information on courses and first-hand accounts of our Schools and Community workshops.

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Our bloggers

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Courses Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information on our courses
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Events Featuring content from speakers our blogs give added insight into our events
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Library A new way to engage with the library collections and services.
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Schools and Community First hand accounts of our archive learning workshops

Schools and Community

Our inspired Schools and Community Learning programme delivers a range of workshops and projects using the unique and fascinating collections found within our world-renowned Bishopsgate Library. Our workshops are suitable for learners of all ages and are used by wide variety of audiences from primary school pupils to pensioners.

Our regular blogs will demonstrate how our Schools and Community Learning programme encourages discovery and enquiry amongst our wide-ranging participants.

Events

Culture and arts, heritage and history, ideas and independent thought all come together in our exciting events programmes. You can enjoy talks, walks, discussions and debates, or one of the many concerts that take place throughout the year.

Our regular blogs will give an added insight and perspective into our dynamic programme with content from speakers at our events.

Library

Situated in a Grade II* listed building, Bishopsgate Library’s beautiful reading room is a peaceful place to study that is open to all; a calm oasis amid the bustle of Spitalfields and the City. In our dedicated Researchers’ Area, you can consult our renowned printed and archival collections on London, labour, freethought and Humanism, co-operation, or protesting and campaigning.

Our regular blogs will provide a new way for you to engage with the library collections and services, new acquisitions, activities and future developments.

Courses

Our comprehensive range of short courses offer you the opportunity to discover, discuss and be inspired in a welcoming environment. Our courses are conveniently designed to take place throughout the day, including lunchtimes, after work and at weekends. We have five course strands, Arts and Culture, Words and Ideas, Languages, Performing Arts and Body & Exercise to choose from.

Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information.

Bishopsgate Blog
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The history of the East End is full of accounts of extraordinary individuals who contributed to making this such a politically important area of London. Throughout its history the East End has seen unlikely alliances develop in the struggle for equality, justice and dignity. An illuminating example was the pairing of German anarchist, Rudolph Rocker and Milly Witkop, a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine, as our tutor David Rosenberg explains:

A German anarchist bookbinder raised in a Catholic orphanage, and a young and very religious Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine were an unlikely couple. A bakers’ strike in 1895 brought young Milly Witkop into contact with the East End’s jewish anarchists, whose ringleader was Rudolph Rocker.

East End anarchists

 

Rudolph Rocker (second from left back row) and Milly Witkop (first on left front row)




The scandalous conditions that Milly Witkop saw and experienced in the sweatshops and tenements of the area challenged her deeply-held beliefs in a loving God and she threw herself into the fight to liberate the sweatshop workers. When she had been in the old country she had sat down serenely with her family on Friday nights, the eve of the Sabbath. In London she spent Friday nights at passionate and intense political meetings at the Sugar Loaf pub on Hanbury Street, where she helped to plot the next audacious and rebellious actions that workers could take to win their rights.


Milly and Rudolph never married but lived in a 'free union', an unconventional arrangement that led the American authorities to refuse them entry when they first tried to emigrate there in 1897. Over the next two decades, back in the UK, Milly and Rudolph became pivotal in the struggle for better lives among the East End’s most oppressed and exploited workers. They changed the East End, and the East End changed them.

Rudolph Rocker learned Yiddish well enough to edit a newspaper – Arbeter Fraynd – Workers’ Friend. He helped create the Jubilee Street Club, a radical community centre offering cultural as well as political sustenance for immigrant Jewish workers, and educational opportunities for those whose schooling was curtailed early.

The couple epitomised unity across a divide, and they devoted themselves to unifying Jewish and non-Jewish workers. In 1912 Milly led a committee seeking temporary homes among sweatshop workers’ families for dockers’ children, who were starving in the last few weeks of a bitter strike. More than 300 children were accommodated and cared for.

Find out more about Rudolph Rocker and Milly Witkop and other extraordinary individuals who left their mark locally, on a six-session course that starts on Monday 4 November - Tribunes of the people: 8 individuals who changed the East End. It is taught by David Rosenberg, author of Battle for the East End, (Five Leaves Publications).

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