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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleAutograph Letter Collection: General Women's Movement
Ref No9/02
Box Fetch NoMicroform available in the reading room: TWL 6.1 Box 2
Extent276 items
Admin Biographical HistoryThe movement to gain the vote for women was a mass movement that evolved most fully in the latter part of the nineteenth century. It was not, however, the only area of activity with the aim of improving the social and political situation of women in Britain. Earlier in the century, the idea of the 'sacred' protective duty of women gave them a 'high' ideological status in society that far outstripped their legal status. The social work that was undertaken by women's groups in the areas of housing and nursing led to changes regarding national laws on the poor, education and the treatment of the infirm. However, despite these achievements, the women who were responsible for them still found themselves legally impotent. This was also a time when the proportion of women compared with men in the country was increasing and the number of unmarried women without the expected financial support of a husband was growing as a consequence. Reformers therefore began to focus on the most immediate ways of improving the status and economic position of women, focusing on improvements to female education and the employment opportunities available to them. Schemes in the 1860s such as Emily Faithfull's Victoria Press and the plethora of female emigration societies that sprang up at the time and directed by individuals such as Maria Rye were designed to give women who were reasonably educated the means of supporting themselves. These developments were followed by activities centred on women's legal status regarding property and their ability to stand for election at the local level. None of the strands of activity was independent from the other as attitudes towards one affected perceptions of the others, and those who were active in one area such as women's employment also worked with colleagues more commonly associated with others such as education.
See biographies for
* Bodichon; Barbara Leigh (1827-1891); painter and campaigner for Women's Rights
* Cobbe; Frances Power (1822-1904); philanthropist, writer and feminist
* Hopkins; Jane Ellice (1836-1904 ); social and legal reformer
* Hubbard; Louisa Maria (1836-1906); editor and campaigner for women's employment
* Faithfull; Emily (1835-1895); founder of the Victoria Press
* Fawcett; Dame; Millicent Garrett (1847-1929); feminist and suffragist
See corporate histories for
* Female Middle Class Emigration Society; 1862-1908
* National Vigilance Association; 1885-1953
DescriptionThe collection includes letters to, from and about women engaged in activities in the general women's movement and public life arranged in chronological order. Correspondents include Frances Elizabeth King to Mr CN Warren (on schools and poor relief); the Duchess of Clarence to Miss Lloyd, c. 1825 (acceptance of patron role), Mary Anning to Sir Astley Cooper, 1830 (safe arrival of dinosaur skeleton), Mary Howitt to Mary Carpenter, 1847 (ragged schools report, poem); Mary Linwood to Mrs Barnaby, 1841 (marriage congratulations); Mr JG Marshall to unknown, 1851 (distressed female shop-workers); League of Universal Brotherhood to Mary Carpenter, 1848 (refusal of Sunday School publication material); Lady Leigh to Mary Carpenter, 1855 (girls reformatory scheme); Mary Carpenter, 1857 (on regional reformatories) and 1872 (to Prof Fawcett requesting interview); Emily Faithfull, to Mrs Newnham, c. 1860 (on publications of letters and poems) to Miss Bethell, 1862 (on women printers), c. 1869 (on photographic session), 1871 (on patterns for the Victoria Press and procedure for submission to the 'Englishwoman's Review'), to the Duke of Argyll, 1871 (on Training Institution vice-presidency), to Mr Baynham, 1880 and 1884 (on visits to Glasgow), to Pritchard, 1887; Lady Strangford to unknown recipient, 1887 (request copy of paper); Barbara Leigh Bodichon, to Lord Shaftsbury and to unnamed woman, 1862 (on the Female Middle Class Emigration Society); Lord Shaftesbury to Barbara Leigh Bodichon, 1862 (donation to Female Middle Class Emigration Society); Maria Rye to Barbara Leigh Bodichon, 1862 and 1865 (on the work of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society); Maria Rye to Miss Paget, c.1868 (on child emigrants to Canada); Maria Rye to Miss Buss, 1883 (on interview acceptance); Mr John Knapp to Maria Rye, 1862 (sale of her stationer's business); Ellice Hopkins to Elihu Burritt, c. 1863 (thanks); Helen Taylor to Barbara Leigh Bodichon, 1865 (on published paper) and 1869 (on interrelationship of all aspects of women's movement); John Stuart Mill to Mary Carpenter, 1867 (London prison conditions); Frances Power Cobbe to Mrs Fawcett (1870: women's property taxation; 1895: Matrimonial Clauses Act); Florence Nightingale, 1868 (to Anne Clough: nursing and teaching as arts; to Mary Carpenter: nursing books for journey to India and review by FN); Sir Leopold McClintock to Mary Carpenter, 1869 (thanks for pamphlet); Baroness Burdett-Coutts, (1869: to Mary Carpenter, letter on value of animal life; 1886: to Octavia Hill inviting her to meeting); Duke of Argyll to Mary Carpenter, 1869 (thanks for report); Louisa Hubbard to Miss Ridley, 1 letter, 1870 (request for information); Annie McPherson, 1870 (Bible texts with signature); Sir Edward Clarke to Mr James Hain Friswell, 1870 (Matrimonial Women's Property Act); Sir Alexander Grant to Mrs Blyth, 1870 (Patron of Society for Promoting the Employment of Women); Miss Winkworth to Miss Warren, 1870 (Victoria Press); Louisa Gann to Miss Ridley, 1872 (offer of help from former, reply from latter); Joanna Chandler to Miss Ridley, 1874 (entitlement to recommendations); Dr Elizabeth Blackwell, 10 letters (1875: to George Eliot forwarding Bodichon letter and on legal case; 1877: to Barbara Leigh Bodichon on book on relations of the sexes; 1880 five letters: to Bodichon on Poor Law Guardian elections, repeal work, workhouses, legal injustices to women and their future, etc; 1886: 3 letters to Bodichon on Liberal policy, the National Vigilance Association and pamphlet 'Purchase of Women'); Agnes Ward to Miss Ridley, 1875 (Holloway College); Duke of Westminster to Octavia Hill, 1875 (insertion of Hill's clause in the Artisans' Dwellings Act Bill); Millicent Garrett Fawcett to Mrs Edbury, 1875 (requests Edbury resigns from Married Women's Property Committee); James Stuart to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1875; Henrietta Barnett to Miss Ridley, 1876 (Little Girl Pauper Committee); Alice Westlake to Miss Ridley, 1876 (thanks); Ursula M Bright to unnamed, 1878 (request sign declaration against war); Rev. Selwyn Image to Miss Garrett, 1879 (notice of visit); Mary Bunting nee Hyatt Lidgett to Miss Ridley, 1880 (apologies); Emma Paterson to Ernest Hart, 1881 (rescue work); Lady Strangford to Emily Faithfull, 1882 (LS's Red Cross Decoration); Daniel Cooper to unknown, 1882 (Rescue Society work); Earl of Dalhousie to editor, 1883 (article on marriage to deceased wife's sister); Edmund Yates to Emily Faithfull, 1884 ('World' article); Lady Brabazon to Mrs Stirling, 1885 (trip to United States of America); May H Steer to Miss Ridley, 1885 (thanks for donation to rescue work); William Walsham How to Octavia Hill, 1885 (volunteer placement); Mr L Ormiston Chant to Miss Ridley, 1886 (meeting of MABZS); Lord Ripon to Emily Faithfull, 1886 (meeting of London Colonial Emigration Society); Lord Derby: 1886 to Emily Faithfull (on a donation), 1891: to Millicent Garrett Fawcett (on women's working conditions); inquiry regarding Emily Faithfull, 1886; Lord Brabazon to Emily Faithfull, 1886 (role in Society of the National Association for Promoting State Directed Colonisation); John Morley to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1888 (pantomime children); Princess Victoria of Battenburg to Octavia Hill, 1888 (care of illegitimate children); Octavia Hill, 1874 (to unknown man, on local elections candidate), 1888 (to Miss Sunderland on holidays), 1888 (to Archdeacon Farrar on park for the poor); Elizabeth Wordsworth to Mr Lock, 1890; Countess Aberdeen to Mr Miles, 1890 (permission to print stories); Miss EP Phipson to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1891 (mill workers petition); Lester Drummond to Mrs Bidder 1893 (legal status of women re municipal franchise); Elizabeth Wordsworth to Miss Donne, 1893; Lady Dufferin Ava to Miss TF de la Forse (London nursing); Walter McLaren to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1895 (Summary Jurisdiction (Married Women) Act); Walter McLaren's Notice of a Motion on the Matrimonial Causes Act 1867 and copy of Bill; Ellen Pinsent to Miss Hughes, 1896 (NSPCC committee); Eleanor Marx to unnamed, 1896 (invitation to Subcommittee of International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress); a notice of a Christmas sale of furniture by Agnes and Rhoda Garrett.
Related MaterialAll collections within The Women's Library Strand 5 relate to women’s campaigning organisations. Furthermore, personal papers of prominent suffragists, e.g Millicent Garrett Fawcett (7MGF) are held at The Women’s Library. Other Collections within Strand 9 which may be of interest include 9/01 Women’s Suffrage, 9/03 Emancipation of Women, 9/04 Female Education, 9/09 Suffrage and Women in Industry.
Papers of Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829-1925) can be found at Girton College Archive, Cambridge (GBR/0271/GCPP Parkes).
Papers of Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891) can be found at Girton College Archive, Cambridge (GBR/0271/GCPP Bodichon).
Related Record7MGF
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. Available on microfiche only.
Former Reference Number(ALC1435-1707. Note: no entry for ALC/1622)
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