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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of the National Women Citizens' Association
Ref No5NWC
Box Fetch NoBox FL171-FL191; FL203-FL214; OS23; 1 parcel on Row 40.B.9; PC 6.6; Archive Object Box 11; Archive Textile Boxes 21-22
Extent33 A boxes, 1 OS box, plus objects
Admin Biographical HistoryThe National Women Citizens Association (1918-1975) was founded in 1918 at a time of concern in how women could be active citizens. After decades of campaigning for women's suffrage, initiatives were established to lay the foundations of women's informed political participation in the early part of the twentieth century. From 1913, autonomous local Women Citizen's Associations were formed throughout the United Kingdom following Eleanor Rathbone's initiatives in Liverpool and Manchester. Their aim was to stimulate women's interest in social and political issues in order to prepare them for active citizenship. When it became evident in 1917 that women were about to be awarded the parliamentary vote, more of these organisations were established. In Jun 1917, the National Union of Women Workers (NUWW) called a meeting of British women's organisations at which the issues surrounding this were discussed. It was here that the NUWW drew up the Provisional Central Committee on the Citizenship of Women, with members drawn from interested societies, though acting in a private capacity. It was their intention to continue to stimulate interest through the work of the existing societies but also to help form local groups that would affiliate to this central body. At the Nov 1917 conference of the 42 affiliated societies of the National Union of Women Workers, the plans and procedures of the new body were accepted by the Executive Committee. Under Mrs Ogilvie Gordon' leadership the new organisation was officially founded in Apr 1918. The first election of the Central Committee had taken place in Dec 1917, followed by a change of name to the National Women Citizen's Association. Helena Normanton was the first Secretary. In early 1918 the first of the local branches began to appear and when, in that year, the franchise was finally given to women, the numbers of affiliated organisations increased as suffrage groups changed their names and objectives to fit new circumstances. During the early 1920s a number of Women's Local Government Society branches affiliated, eventually becoming women's citizenship groups when the parent body dissolved in 1925. This saw the NWCA assume greater responsibility for work in the area of local government through the second half of this decade and into the 1930s. Despite this, there was a decline in interest and activity in the group before the Second World War. However, this situation was reversed after the war. In 1947, the organisation amalgamated with the National Council for Equal Citizenship and then, in 1949, with Women for Westminster. There was a corresponding increase in activity leading up to the Festival of Britain in 1951, so that in the 1950s it was necessary to reorganise the local branches into five regional federations. Local branches continued to be established into the 1960s. However, there was a another decrease in activity and the NWCA disbanded in 1974 despite some local branches continuing and an attempt being made by some former officers to revive the group in 1975.
DescriptionThe archive consists of agendas, papers and minutes of the Executive Committee (1949-1974), the Council (1968-1970), organisational working party (1962-1965) and Parliamentary (1949-1955, 1959, 1964-1973), development (1968-1971) and local government (1943-1959) subcommittees; Administrative papers including constitutions (1950-70), executive committee, branch secretary and speaker lists, agendas (1947-1974), minutes, files, correspondence and papers (1937-1974) of AGMs; annual reports (1934, 1938, 1946-1973); financial papers (1951-1974); conference papers, correspondence and files (1947-1974); general correspondence with other groups and branches (1948-1973); publications and leaflets (c.1920-1973); papers of Southern and North Western federations (1949-1974) including minutes of executive committees and AGMs, reports and general files and similar papers of their local branches (1913-1974), with scrapbooks, financial papers and administrative correspondence. The majority of the papers date from 1945-1974.
Related MaterialRelated National Women Citizens Association objects are also held by the Women's Library, as well as the papers of Teresa Billington-Greig (see 7TBG) and the papers of Helena Normanton (7HLN).
The Women's Library Printed Collections holds the following related material by the National Women Citizens' Association :The constitution of the National Women Citizens' Associations : as finally passed at a Special General Meeting of representatives of the local Women Citizens' Associations on 8 Nov 1918, revised at the Annual General Meeting 26 May 1936; Biennial report : for the year ending ... 1936; Women Citizens' Associations and what they are, 1933; Conference of women members of local Government authorities in England and Wales. Reports for 1948-1971; Handbook - for the use of branches and groups 1973 (oversize pamphlet). These, and additional NWCA publications can be seen at class number 323.3406041 NAT. Additional material in the printed collections includes a Guide to local government in England and Wales 1950 (class number 362.10941).
Related Record7HLN
Access StatusOpen
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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