In 2004 the IISH received the personal papers of Ramón Álvarez Palomo (Ramonín), a leader in the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist movement, both in Spain and in exile following the Civil War.
Born on 7 March 1913 in Gijón, he grew up in an anarcho-syndicalist home. From 1922 until 1928 he attended the Escuela Neutra, which was run by Eleuterio Quintanilla. Quintanilla, who strongly believed that the socialists and anarcho-syndicalists should join forces, deeply influenced Álvarez's education. Álvarez later urged the CNT to adopt a pragmatic approach toward socialists and dissidents within the trade union.
Álvarez, who went to work at age 12, started attending trade union meetings with his father while he was still a boy. At age 15 he joined the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. He was also a member of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica. In 1933 he was elected regional secretary of the CNT in Asturia. He was active on behalf of the CNT and the FAI both during the Asturian October revolution in 1934 and during the Civil War. Following the defeat of the Republic, he went into exile in France.
In 1945 Álvarez was elected secretary of the Asturia region's Confederación Nacional del Trabajo in exile. During that year a rift occurred within the libertarian movement in exile between the orthodox majority and a minority that wanted to entrust leadership of the resistance against Franco to the clandestine Comité Nacional of the CNT in Spain, a group not averse to political compromise. This minority formed the Sub-Comité Nacional, on which Álvarez served as the secretary from 1947 to 1949. He crossed the border three times to attend clandestine CNT meetings in Spain.
In 1976 Álvarez returned to Gijón, where he became involved in propaganda and publicity campaigns. Following the split within the CNT in 1979, he joined the Confederación General del Trabajo. During his long lifetime, he published biographies, his memoirs and essays about politics and syndicalism. He died on 14 November 2003.
His vast archive provides insight into the activities of the Sub-Comité Nacional, especially during its early years, and complements the Gómez Peláez archive, which is more informative about the majority wing of the CNT in exile. The papers include correspondence and documentation of the Sub-Comité Nacional, the archive of the Asturian Sub-Comité in exile, documents regarding the CNT in Asturia from before and during the Civil War, materials about the underground movement in Spain during the 1940s, personal correspondence, manuscripts and documentation about subjects such as the 1934 uprising.