About us

Commonweal supports people who work for a nonviolent world by maintaining a unique collection of books, pamphlets and journals on nonviolent social change, offering a major set of archives on the history of nonviolent direct action and sharing resources online. The Commonweal Collection is based on the 1st Floor in the JB Priestley Library at the University of Bradford, BD7 1DP. The Commonweal Collection is free and open to the public. Find out how to join the Commonweal here.

Origins & development

Commonweal was founded by a single activist, David Hoggett, in the 1950s. David was a remarkable man with a passion for social justice. He overcame many obstacles to develop a lending library of peace and nonviolence materials, which he called the Commonweal Collection.

David Hoggett

David Hoggett

David chose this name for his library because it was the nearest English-language equivalent to the Gandhian idea of Sarvodaya – ‘progress for all’. The Collection covers nonviolence theory and practice, peace, disarmament, environmentalism, human rights, development, anti-racism, social and economic alternatives, creative education, and more. It has its own classification system.

Since the 1970s, the Collection has had a home at the University of Bradford’s JB Priestley Library, and is used by students from Peace Studies and other courses, as well as the general public. If you can get to Bradford, you can join Commonweal and access the Collection free of charge. Commonweal items are listed on the JB Priestley Library catalogue (choose ‘Commonweal Collection’ from the drop-down menu). Archival material collected by Commonweal over the years, from the peace and other movements, is expertly curated by Special Collections at the University of Bradford. This material includes Gerald Holtom’s original designs for the nuclear disarmament (ND) symbol, which ‘continues to be used as shorthand for peace and hope’.

Commonweal ND CND symbol Holtom higher-res

One of Gerald Holtom’s original designs for the nuclear disarmament (ND) symbol (image copyright held by Commonweal trustees; all enquiries about copyright/use to Special Collections)

Other successful Commonweal projects over the years include a mobile children’s peace library and a local peace directory. Read more about David Hoggett and the history of Commonweal.

Get involved

In the same spirit that led David Hoggett to found Commonweal, we are always looking for new ways to support people who want a nonviolent world and who are willing to work for one. Email us at commonweal@peacemuseum.org.uk if you would like to:

  • Suggest a resource for the Commonweal Collection.
  • Tell us about your nonviolence initiative so we can shout about it online.
  • Offer to write a guest blog for us.
  • Volunteer to help with the collection or with events.

And do follow us on FacebookX (Twitter) and Instagram.

We want to get to know you

We know that there are loads of fantastic people and organisations out there working towards nonviolent social change. We would love to get to know about your work so that we can learn from each other and promote each other’s good practice. So we encourage you to get in touch!

Over the coming months, Commonweal will be working towards the development of resources and activities to improve the visibility and accessibility of the collection. If you have any ideas about activities or resources, or would like to consider a joint project then we would love to hear from you. Contact Donna at commonwealoutreach@peacemuseum.org.uk.