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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of the British Federation of University Women (now the British Federation of Women Graduates)
Ref No5BFW
Box Fetch NoBox 001-197, Box OS100-101
Extent197 A boxes, 3 OS boxes
Admin Biographical History"British Federation of University Women (1909-) was founded in 1909 as an organisation of graduates to promote friendship among university women and increase their prospects of work. The first Local Association of University Women was formed in Manchester in 1907 and others followed in Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. In June 1909 a meeting of delegates from these Associations was held in the rooms of the Manchester University Women's Union. Also present were representatives of women's colleges and graduate institutions. The meeting passed a resolution 'That a Federation of University Women in the British Isles be formed' and a constitition and rules were drawn up. The objects of the Federation were to 'afford opportunity for the expression of united opinion and for concerted action by university women on matters especially affecting them'; 'to encourage independent research work by women'; 'to facilitate inter-communication and co-operation between the women of different universities'; and 'to stimulate the interest of university women in municipal and public life'. Members of the Local Associations that comprised the Federation were women who held university degrees or who had passed their final examinations; registered medical women or registered dentists; or women who had passed Oxford Honours Moderations. Women who had studies for two years at a university might be admitted as associates whilst those who had advanced the higher education or interests of women were admitted as honorary members. Further Local Associations were formed during the first year of the Federation in Bangor, Cambridge, London and St Andrews. The British Federation occupied the International Clubhouse called Crosby Hall in Chelsea. It was opened in 1927.

The organisation seeks to promote womenÂ’s opportunities in education and public life and to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. It does this through its local associations and regions, national and international activities, and through the University Women of Europe. It has been providing scholarships to women in their final year of PhD study since 1912.

In 1995 the organisation renamed itself the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG).

For more information on the BFUW see:
- Carol Dyhouse (1995) "The British Federation of University Women and the status of women in universities, 1907-1939", Women's History Review, 4:4, 465-485:

The International Federation of University Women (now Graduate Women International) was founded in 1919. For a history of IFUW see Batho, E. (1969). A lamp of friendship, 1918-1968: A short history. IFUW's archives are held at Atria: Institute on Gender Equality and Women's History in Amsterdam: (
DescriptionThe archive collection consists of the following series:

Annual General Meetings (5BFW/01):
- minutes, 1909-2006
- papers, 1979-1993

Executive Committee (5BFW/02):
- minutes, 1909-2001 (5BFW/02/01-27B)
- correspondence, 1919-26 (5BFW/02/28-31)
- papers, 1926-44 and 1970-74 (5BFW/02/32-44)

For the first minutes (1907) of the Manchester Association, the precursor to BFUW, see 5BFW/17.

Committee on International Relations, 1919- (5BFW/03). Includes:
- minutes of meetings
- Sub-Committee papers, including the Academic Sub-Committee/Academic Awards Committee
- papers relating to IFUW

[For papers relating to IFUW's Committee for the Emergency Assistance of University Women see under Refugees 5BFW/11]

Public Affairs Committee and predecessors, 1922-69 (5BFW/04):
- Parliamentary Sub-Committee, 1922-25
- Parliamentary and Legislation Sub-Committee, 1925-27
- Parliamentary Sub-Committee, 1934-36
- Parliamentary and Public Relations Sub-Committee, 1936-62
- Parliamentary and Public Relations Committee, 1962-66
- Public Affairs Committee, 1966-69

General papers and subject files: 5BFW/05.

5BFW/05 contains papers, c1908-2010:

Arranged generally in chronological order. If there are a number of files relating to one committee or organisation, these are kept together. Includes the following papers [date ranges given usually relate to the papers]:

Early records, c1908-19, which appear to be the correspondence files of Ida Smedley Maclean, Honorary Secretary.

BFUW committees and working parties on policy issues of particular interest to women graduates, such as:
- Civil Service Sub-Committee, 1929-32
- Nationality of Married Women Sub-Committee, 1929-33
- Employment of Married Women Sub-Committee, 1931-34
- Statistics Sub-Committee (to collect various statistics relating to university women), 1938-43
- Education Sub-Committee, 1947-49
- Working Party on Women in Science and Technology, 1956-60
- Working Party on Crowther Report [women graduates and the teaching profession], 1960-64
- A Second Chance: the occupational outlook of the woman graduate, 1963-64 (8 boxes, plus around 90 diaries of a fortnight in the life of working wives and mothers, 1964, completed as part of a complementary study into "the resources of professional womanpower")
- Women in Parliament Survey, 1968-69 (including letters from women stating their opinions on the reasons for the small number of women candidates at parliamentary elections).
- various short-lived and ad hoc committees

Lobbying the government, including in relation to getting more women on official bodies such as commissions.

Liaison with other organisations in relation to lobbying or to other aspects of BFUW's work. Includes:
- British Commonwealth League, 1929-49
- Consultative Committee of Women's Organisations, 1919-28
- Equal Compensation for War Injury for Men and Women, 1941-43
- Equal Pay Campaign Committee, 1947-56
- Joint Committee on Women Employed by Municipal Authorities, 1922-34
- Joint Committee on Women in the Civil Service, 1920-44
- National Council of Women, 1920-36
- National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, 1919-36
- Six Point Group, 1921-31
- Women's Advisory Council of League of Nations Union/United Nations Association, 1929-48
- Women's Employment Federation, 1933-38
- Women's Group on Public Welfare, 1943-77
- Women Peers Committee, 1929-32

Subjects, such as:
- BFUW Register
- Employment rights and opportunities for university women (including equal pay, equal opportunities, the marriage bar, etc.)
- India
- Interchange/exchange teachers
- BFUW's role during the Second World War and immediately after, including relief work, especially in Europe
- Women's education and training


Papers relating to BFUW as an organisation (5BFW/06). Includes:
- company records
- notes on the history of BFUW by Ida Smedley Maclean (1935), Frances H Melville (1949) and J Marguerite Bowie (1956)
- publications
- anniversary celebrations (jubilees)
- information on leading BFUW officers
- re-organisation papers
- Hospitality Committee papers - this committee was responsible for the entertainment of guests and organising social functions i.e. tea parties [earlier papers of this committee are in 5BFW/03/02/04-05]
- Press and Publicity Sub-Committee
- material from local associations [for minutes of the Manchester Association see 5BFW/17; for papers of the London Association see 5LAU].

[Note that annual reports, 1913-90, 1996/7 and 1997/8 are listed on the main Library catalogue]
[Note that most issues of BFUW/BFWG News are available on the open shelves (TWL@LSE Journals, 378.15506041)]


Financial papers (5BFW/07). Includes:
- Sale Committee [regarding fundraising efforts through Christmas sales and other events]
- Endowment Sub-Committee [some records of the Membership and Endowment Sub-Committee are in 5BFW/08]
- Reconstruction Appeal Committee
- Finance Committee

[See also financial papers among the Fellowships files, 5BFW/09-10.]
[See also financial papers among the Crosby Hall files (5/BFW/16), especially the Crosby Hall Endowment Fund.]


Membership papers (5BFW/08). Includes:
- Membership Committee papers
- Press cuttings of obituary notices of members, 1948-69
- Care for Elderly Members Sub-Committee

Fellowships papers:
- General papers (5BFW/09).
- Files for each fellowship, 1922-56 (5BFW/10). Each folder usually contains information on the fellowship or scholarship, completed application forms, testimonials and correspondence. They have been kept in the original order (F1-F194).

[See also 5BFW/03/04 for papers about fellowships among the Academic Sub-Committee files.]


Papers on BFUW's relief work before, during and immediately after the Second World War, including material relating to BFUW's work with women graduates who were refugees or in need of assistance.

General papers (5BFW/11), including:
- Refugees Sub-Committee and predecessors (1938-47): minutes and correspondence
- Correspondence with individuals and organisations providing assistance
- Papers on a BFUW evacuation scheme for children of women graduates
- Papers on BFUW's work in the aftermath of the war, particularly in relation to helping women graduates on continental Europe, including relief work (i.e. sending parcels to those in need), providing information and hospitality.

Refugee case files (5BFW/12) - some case files are also with the general papers in 5BFW/11.
Each file may contain biographical material about the person (i.e. their curriculum vitae, a completed questionnaire, testimonials), correspondence with and about them, and information on BFUW's work on their behalf.

American Relief Fund (5BFW/13) - papers relating to the distribution by BFUW of a fund given by the American Association of University Women. The fund was to be used to assist university women (British or foreign) in Britain who needed assistance due to the war. The fund was used, for example, to assist those in financial difficulty (the papers usually indicate why they were in difficulty) or with grants for research or studying, etc. They provide detailed case studies for those interested in the impact the Second World War had on women.

Occupied Countries Fund, 1945-51 (5BFW/14) - papers on a BFUW fund established in March 1945 for the "welfare and rehabilitation of university women of occupied and liberated countries" who had suffered due to the Second World War.

Displaced Persons, 1947-59 (5BFW/15) - papers relating to relief for university women who were displaced in Europe after the Second World War, including on:
- a Sponsorship Fund for bringing one or two such women to Britain [part of a scheme organised by the British Council for Aid to Refugees]
- the IFUW Relief Fund
- an appeal to BFUW members to adopt such women (meaning writing letters and sending parcels of food or clothing); around 60 displaced women were helped in this way in 1953.

[See also papers of the Sale Committee (5/BFW/7) for material relating to fundraising efforts on behalf of refugees.]


Crosby Hall (5BFW/16). The 15th-century merchant's hall was originally located in Bishopsgate, but moved to Chelsea at the beginning of the 20th-century. The site was acquired by the BFUW to be an international hall of residence for women graduates and was officially opened in 1927. A tablet, unveiled in 1926, notes that the site was "dedicated to the encouragement of learning and the promotion of friendship between the women of all nations". The site was also used as a club for members of the BFUW and other national associations of university women.

[For sales held at Crosby Hall as part of BFUW's fundraising efforts, see the papers of the Sale Committee (5/BFW/7).]

Manchester Association (5BFW/17): includes the minutes of the first meeting of this local association (20 March 1907), which would eventually lead to the foundation of the national BFUW.


Other organisations: Business and Universities Committee, 1925-28 (5BFW/18):
This was established by Lady Rhondda and Professor Caroline Spurgeon, "to act as a link between industry and commerce and the universities in the interests of women". It was established following an address at the IFUW Conference in Oslo (1924) by Professor Spurgeon on, "The university woman in business and finance". The first meeting took place on 12 November 1925.


Mailings and circulars, 1989-2008 (5BFW/19): Various papers circulated to local associations and BFUW members, including Executive meeting minutes, AGM minutes, directories, memoranda, IFUW News.


See the Library catalogue for most printed material from the British Federation of University Women.

BFUW - British Federation of University Women
BFWG - British Federation of Women Graduates
CIR - Committee on International Relations
IFUW - International Federation of University Women
Related MaterialTWL@LSE also holds 5LAU Records of the London Association of University Women. Printed collections hold annual reports and periodicals of the British Federation of University Women.
Access StatusMainly open; some items closed
Access ConditionsThis collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library@LSE in advance of their first visit.
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