About us

Commonweal – Well-being for all

Commonweal supports grassroots activists who work for a nonviolent world.

It maintains a unique collection of books and journals that cover many strands of nonviolence, in Bradford, UK. Topics include nonviolence theory and practice, peace, disarmament, environmentalism, human rights, development, anti-racism, social and economic alternatives, creative education, and more. The Collection has its own classification system.

Commonweal is also active online so that we can connect with activists anywhere in the world and get nonviolence insights out to new audiences.

Our focus is broad because real, lasting change takes all kinds of initiatives, in all kinds of fields.

Origins & development

The Commonweal Collection was started by a single activist, David Hoggett, in the 1950s. David was a remarkable man with a passion for social justice, and he overcame many obstacles to found and develop the Commonweal Collection.

David Hoggett, founder of the Commonweal Collection (image rights holder unknown)

David chose the name ‘Commonweal’ for his library because it was the nearest English-language equivalent to the Gandhian idea of Sarvodaya – ‘well-being for all’.

Since the 1970s, the Collection has had a home at the University of Bradford’s JB Priestley Library (UK), and it’s 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 JBP catalogue (choose ‘Commonweal Collection’ from the drop-down menu).

Also, 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)

Commonweal has run several successful projects over the years, besides maintaining the Collection itself, such as a mobile children’s peace library and a local peace directory. It also holds regular peace lectures in Bradford.

Read more about David Hoggett and the history of Commonweal.

What next?

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.

The Commonweal Trust is a registered charity (no. 1053157).