04/12/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Spotlight on the Women’s Library Collection at LSE

e43a120e-d22a-4303-be05-7a70cff2afee

The story of women in the UK over the past 150 years can be explored within the Women’s Library Collection, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The Women's Library Collection is the oldest and largest collection on suffrage in the UK, with UNESCO Memory of the World recognition

The origins of the Women’s Library Collection can be traced back to 1866 and the women’s suffrage petition of that year. Over the decades, suffrage literature was collected, which in 1926 formed the basis of the Women’s Service Library, which became the Fawcett Library in 1957 and in 2002 was re-named the Women’s Library.

Ahead of the centenary year of the Representation of the People Act (1918), which gave the vote to some women, the library looks forward to welcoming many new researchers who are hoping to find out about family members involved in the suffrage movement.

Collection highlights – the suffrage movement

The Women's Library Collection includes institutional and personal archives of suffragists, so the archives of individual women such as Millicent Garrett Fawcett can be found alongside the archive of the NUWSS and other suffragist groups around the UK. The archives of the WSPU are scattered, and there are also personal archives of suffragettes including Rosa May Billinghurst. The Collection includes:

  • personal papers of suffragists and suffragettes
  • records of suffrage organisations
  • newspapers, journals and pamphlets published by suffrage organisations
  • badges, postcards, posters, banners and other 3D objects on this subject

Among the collection highlights for anyone tracing ancestors who were involved in the suffrage movement are reference books, minutes, annual reports relating to suffrage societies, and suffrage journals.

The journals are a particularly rich source of information on the topic of the votes for women cause, with articles, notices of meetings, advertisements and conference reports, many of which contain the names of individual campaign supporters.

Journals

Each of the major suffrage societies produced its own journal to spread its message and keep members up-to-date. The titles available include The Common Cause (1909-1920) [National Union for Women’s Suffrage Societies], The Vote (1909-1933) [Women’s Freedom League], Suffragette (1912-1915) and Votes for Women (1907-1918) [Women’s Social and Political Union].

Annual reports

The thought of reading annual reports and minutes might not seem thrilling but they often contain a wealth of information about an organisation’s activities.

The Women’s Library collection contains annual reports of the early suffrage societies in bound volumes within the Ruth Cavendish-Bentinck collection. Most, however, are loose copies. There are also the records of the NUWSS and many of the annual reports and correspondence of affiliated societies. Annual reports can also be found scattered in personal papers of suffrage workers and might not be listed.

You can explore the catalogue online or visit the library, which is open Monday-Friday 10.30am-5pm and Saturdays by appointment.​ Explore the library's Suffrage 18 programme of events for 2018.

LSE Library, 10 Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HD; tel: 0207 955 7229; website.

 

(image © LSE Library. Meeting of Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) leaders, c.1906 - c.1907: Flora Drummond, Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenny, Emmeline Pankhurst, Charlotte Despard with two others, working round a kitchen table; printed inscription on reverse 'Barratt's Photo Press Agency, 8 Salisbury Ct, Fleet St, EC')

Back to "Next steps" Category

04/12/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Nothing compares to meeting blood relatives

Anne Wilkinson from Stonehewer to Stanier Society talks to us about their One-Name Study. ...


Taking research further: Suffolk FHS

Howard King, Chairman of the Ipswich branch of the Suffolk FHS tells us more about helping people take ...


Reaching & serving the community

Alan Thwaites from Hastings and Rother FHS (HRFHS) tells us how they help people with their family history ...


New name, new future

Jackie Cotterill talks about the future for the previously named Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy ...


Other Articles

Out and about: Northern Ireland FHS

Maeve Rogan from the Northern Ireland FHS talks to us about the events the NIFHS participates in. ...


Learn more: Ormskirk and District FHS

Kate Hurst from Ormskirk and District FHS tells us how the society helps their members learn more about ...


Learning from each other- Guild of One-Name Studies

Paul Howes talks to us about the Guild of One-Name Studies in this expert blog ...


At work in a society research centre

Sue Bond from Devon FHS tells us about working in a society research centre. ...