The miners of Tilmanstone colliery in Kent, pictured here, could count themselves lucky to be on their feet for a few minutes - thin, inaccessible seams demanded that men often spend hours working on their knees. They were probably grateful for employment of any sort. In August it was revealed that the number of unemployed in the UK had risen to 2 million - nearly a two-fold increase since the Labour government's election the previous year. With the help of the Hulton Getty Picture Collection, this image of subterranean toil brings The Independent's photo-history of the 20th century to 1930.

In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin set in motion a brutal programme of agrarian collectivisation, in order, he claimed, to combat the imminent prospect of famine.

The rural revolution's darker political goals swiftly became apparent, however, when Stalin ordered that, along with their families, the 2 million affluent peasant farmers, the kulaks, be "liquidated as a class". Stalin's agents set about their task with merciless efficiency, murdering kulaks in the early months of 1930 at the rate of an average of 40 per day, according to some reports. At the same time, numerous incentives tempting farmers to join their local co-operatives allowed Stalin to tighten his control over those poorer peasant farmers living near the Polish border who had not already fled the country.

The decorum with which the Indian authorities arrested Mahatma Ghandi in May was in marked contrast to the violent episodes his detainment provoked. Earlier that year, his continuing campaign of civil disobedience had targeted a government monopoly on the production of salt, culminating in the Mahatma's symbolic infringement of the controversial legislation. Ghandi's subsequent imprisonment sparked widespread unrest: 2,500 of his followers offered no resistance as police ruthlessly broke up a protest at a government-owned salt works: in Sholapur, less supplicatory supporters of Ghandi were numbered among a mob of 10,000 who staged a violent attempt to take over the town.

As part of Photo 98, the UK Year of Photography and the Electronic Image, the heyday of London's Lafayette Studio is celebrated in `High Society: Edwardian Life in Photographs' at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE (0171-306 0055). The exhibition continues until 21 June. For full details of Photo 98's programme of events and exhibitions, ring 01484 559 888 or visit

Mike Higgins