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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of the Women's Forum and its Predecessors
Ref No5WFM
Box Fetch NoBox FL559-Box FL586, (Box FL586A-Box FL586S)
LevelCollection
Date1931-1980
Extent28 A boxes and 19 OS parcels (17 A boxes uncatalogued)
Admin Biographical HistoryThe Women's Forum (1939-1980) grew out of organisations that came into existence during the Second World War. In Sep 1939, the refugee situation prompted the National Council of Social Service to call a conference of concerned organisations. The group that emerged from this event was the Women's Group on Problems Arising from Evacuation, with Margaret Bondfield as Chair. The National Council of Social Service would continue to provide the new organisation with secretariat and accommodation throughout its existence. In 1940 the group changed its name to the Women's Group on Public Welfare in order to reflect its widened scope of interest into all aspects of the welfare of women and children. According to its constitution, its main object was "to bring the experience of its constituent organisations to bear on questions of public welfare, more especially those affecting women and children". The Group was constituted of major women's and female-voluntary organisations' representatives, including the National Union of Townswomen's Guilds and the National Federation of Women's Institutes. The Forum was an advisory body and as such was dependant on the individual constituent groups to undertake practical action resulting from the discussions. Strong links were formed with foreign, especially Eastern-European, organisations. The main work of the group was undertaken by subcommittees, including a number of surveys. During the war, these included those on education and leisure, the under-fives, hygiene, working class credit, the organisation of women's clubs, women's work in the regions, conditions on air-raid shelters, planning, welfare in the women's services, fuel economy (later superseded by the Women's Advisory Council on Solid Fuel), food education, and a sub-committee to examine the Beveridge Report. After the war, the focus of the work changed as other sub-committees were formed: one related to social insurance, another on the shortage of craft and cookery teachers, a committee on home making, clean food, and in the Sixties, a committee on public questions. Working groups were also set up to deal with the social aspects of loneliness, advertisements, education for girls and the situation of homeless families. During the war, this work at the national level was complimented by the activities of purely local groups and the local branches of organisations. At the time, these were co-ordinated by regional Group Action Councils established by the Federation of Soroptimist Clubs in 1942. These local forums had to be linked to the national efforts, however, and the Women's Group on Public Welfare provided the gateway between individual Group Action Councils as well as between local groups and national organisations. When the Group Action Councils became Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations, the WGPW both held joint biannual conferences with them and sent representatives to sit with them on the SCWO advisory committee. In the post-war period, the home making committee set up a sub-committee of scientific home management; in 1951 the committee and sub-committee merged to become the Council of Scientific Management in the Home (COSMITH). However, the major achievement of the group in the post-war period was the publication of the report `The Neglected Child and His Family' in 1946, which led to the establishment of a new child welfare service through the Children Act of 1948. By 1960, 850 clubs totalling 27,500 members had been set up through its efforts. These activities continued until 1975 when the National Council of Social Service was restructured in the wake of the Local Authority and Social Services Act 1970 that had resulted in increasing confusion between the welfare activities of statutory and voluntary bodies. At this point, in 1975, the Women's Group on Public Welfare changed its name to The Women's Forum. When the NCSS became the National Council of Voluntary Organisations in 1980, it decided to end its secretarial and financial support of the Women's Forum. It was decided that the organisation could not continue to function and the group was wound up at the Annual General Meeting that took place in Dec 1980.
DescriptionThe archive consists of minutes and minute books of the Executive Committee (1939-1980) and correspondence (1943-1973), meetings agendas, papers and minutes including those for annual general meetings (1963-1974), annual reports (1946-1979), administrative papers (1941-1973), file lists (1965, 1980) various newsletters and magazines (1948-74), Council of Scientific Management in the Home (COSMITH) minutes, correspondence and papers (1945-1977), publications, papers and reports by international organisations (1943-1977), papers of committees and subcommittees on education and leisure, the under-fives, hygiene, working class credit, the organisation of women's clubs, women's work in the regions, air-raid shelters, planning, welfare in the Women's services, fuel, food education, the Beveridge Report, social insurance, shortages of craft and cookery teachers, home making, clean food, public questions, the social aspects of loneliness, advertisements and the situation of homeless families (1940-1973), files on other organisations (1945-1963), papers of the Standing Conferences Advisory Committee (1942-1975) and joint conferences between the Women's Group on Public Welfare (WGPW) and Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations (SCWO) (1944-1976) as well as individual standing conferences.
ABBREVIATIONS
COSMITH Council of Scientific Management in the Home;
NCSS National Council of Social Service;
NCVO National Council of Voluntary Organisations;
SCWO Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations;
WF Women's Forum;
WGPW Women's Group on Public Welfare.
Related MaterialThe Women's Library Printed Collections holds publications by the Women's Forum and its Predecessors, including their newsletters.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThis collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research. Uncatalogued archives are not usually available for general consultation, but it may be possible to provide some level of access by prior arrangement.
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