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History and Heritage of NUS

The contribution of NUS and the wider student movement to the social history of the UK and beyond is a fascinating but still under-researched topic. For Friends of NUS, it is also an opportunity to reflect on and reminisce about your work and your colleagues across the decades.


NUS Women Unit, 1984

A request for alumni

NUS’ current archives are very incomplete, a result of materials being lost to flood or fire, or simply because files were not archived in the first place. As a consequence, key information relating to our history is missing. As part of the work leading up to our 100th birthday and beyond, we want to improve this situation. One of the ways we can do so is ensuring that alumni pass on any documentation they have related to their time in the organisation.

If you have papers, photographs, ephemera or other documentation relating to your time in NUS, please consider bequeathing these to NUS either when this is convenient or as an instruction in your will. They will be stored in the Modern Records Centre at Warwick, which houses much of NUS’ current archives, and you can leave instructions for the files you donate to be sealed for a period of years if you wish. Please contact Mike Day, Director of Devolved Nations and Internationalism, for more information.

Publications relating to the history of NUS and the student movement in the UK

The list below summarises the various articles, books and other publications that focus on the history of NUS or the student movement in the UK. Some will be out of print but may be found on second-hand book website.

If you know of any publications that should be added to the list below, or would like to write about any aspect of NUS’s history, please do get in contact with Friends of NUS.

Official NUS publications on its history

NUS 1922-2012 – Mike Day, 2012 (out of print)
Around the World in 90 Years: a short history of internationalism in NUS
Winning on Welfare: a short history of welfare work in NUS and the student movement

Articles/short publications by alumni on NUS history

National Union of Students: The First Forty Years, 1922-1962 – Bill Savage, 1962

“Freedom to speak or freedom from harm? The history of the No Platform debate” – Jim Dickinson, 2016

Books relating to the history of NUS and the student movement in the UK

The International Student Movement – History and Background – Gert van Maanen, 1966 (out of print)

The National Union of Students, 1922-1967 – Frank Rhodes, 1968 (unpublished MEd. Dissertation – some copies were made by SUSOC in 1990 and may be available on second-hand book websites)

The Rise of the Student Estate in Britain – Eric Ashby and Mary Anderson, 1970 (out of print)

Student Community Action – Alan Barr, 1972 (out of print)

Students and the Cold War – Joel Kotek (translated by Ralph Blumenau), 1996 (out of print)

Student Protest – The Sixties and After – Gerard DeGroot (ed), 1998 (out of print)

Raw Talent – Fifty Years of the National Student Drama Festival – Andrew Haydon (ed), 2005 (out of print)

British Student Activism in the Long Sixties – Caroline Hoefferle, 2012

Constructing Post-Imperial Britain – Britishness, ‘Race’ and the Radical Left in the 1960s – Jodi Burkett, 2013

A Social History of Student Volunteering: Britain and Beyond, 1880-1980 – Georgina Brewis, 2014

Journal articles relating to the history of NUS and the student movement in the UK

The student movement in England and Wales during the 1930s – Brian Simon, History of Education, 1987

‘To form citizens’: Scottish students, governance and politics, 1884–1948 – Catriona MacDonald, History of Education, 2009

Dubious causes of no interest to students? The development of National Union of Students in the United Kingdom – Mike Day, European Journal of Higher Education, 2012

Obituaries of NUS alumni

Sir Ivison Macadam (NUS President, 1922): The Round Table

H Trevor Lloyd (NUS President, 1930-31): Arctic

Sir Denis Follows (NUS President, 1931-33): Olympic Review

Brian Simon (NUS President, 1939-40): Guardian

Sydney Checkland (NUS President, 1942-43): British Academy; British History Review

Stanley Jenkins (NUS President, 1949-51): NUS; Daily Telegraph

Trevor Fisk (NUS President, 1968-69): Independent

Digby Jacks (NUS President, 1973-75): NUS; Guardian; Independent

Stella Greenall (NUS staff, latterly Education and Welfare Manager, 1951-1975) Guardian

Biographies of NUS alumni

Brian Simon (NUS President, 1939-40): A Life in Education, autobiography, 1998 (out of print)

Stanley Jenkins (NUS President, 1949-51): So Much to Do, So Little Time, autobiography, 2000 (out of print)

Fred Jarvis (NUS President, 1952-4): You Never Know Your Luck, autobiography, 2014

Jack Straw (NUS President, 1969-71): Last Man Standing, autobiography, 2012

R A Butler (NUS Vice President, 1923-4): RAB: The Life of R. A. Butler, Anthony Howard, 1987 (out of print); Rab Butler: The Best Prime Minister We Never Had, Michael Jago, 2015

Other relevant publications

A Student’s View of the Universities – Brian Simon, 1943 (out of print)

Student Politics and Higher Education – Digby Jacks, 1975 (out of print)


Martin Luther King and NUS President Bill Savage, 1966


National Executive Council, 1977-78