Click on Your loving Myra to hear the audio recording created by Beth Moss. Myra was a member of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union. She served a sentence in Holloway prison in 1912 when she went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed. Beth drew upon the letters Myra wrote to her husband while she was in prison, she also interviewed Diana Dollery the grandaughter of Myra. Beth has provided an excellent insight into what life was life like for suffragettes in Holloway prison.
Myra’s Suffragette medal awarded for having been force fed in Holloway prison is now in the collections of the Melbourne Museum and is currently on display until 31st March 2017 as part of their Women’s History Month celebrations.
Interviews and biographies of living feminists chosen for the British Library’s Sisterhood and After project. https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/biographies <https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/biographies
The Sisterhood and After project describes sixty-six UK feminists alive today who have spent their lives striving for political and social equality, who struggled for changes that would grant both women and men new freedoms.
The link describes women took up the challenge in an extraordinary period of British history – feminists like Lesley Abdela and other women at the forefront of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s and 80s. What they fought for, what they achieved and how they achieved it.
The Women’s Liberation Movement was formed of young women living in a period of rapid social and cultural change. Many were also active in civil rights, peace and new left movements and had the skills to spread their message in powerful and varied ways. In addition to the interviews, explore the themes to discover the background to the movement.
The Sisterhood and After website is part of a wider Leverhulme Trust funded project whose aim is to create an original and extensive oral history archive of the lives of feminist change-makers of the 1970s and ‘80s. The archive provides the resources for new studies of this important social movement and its legacy, capturing the voices of a unique generation before it is too late.
Here is the image of the badge purchased by the Friends. It is catalogued so can be viewed in the reading room (TWL.2016.5).
It was possibly made by a craftswoman who, on occasion, supplied goods for bazaars, rather than being a commission direct from the NUWSS.
Friends of the Women’s Library AGM 22 June 2017: Report from LSE Library
LSE Library developments
- Work of Archive & Special Collections team has focused on collection evaluation. As reported last year this is a comprehensive evaluation of all of our print and archive collections – including TWL – to identify unique & distinctive collections and assess their value and importance in order to prioritise work on preservation and storage, identify opportunities for digitisation, and maximise the contribution of collections to research, teaching and learning and public engagement, exhibitions and fundraising.
- The project is being led by Anna Towlson and aims to finish by middle of next year. So far we have completed evaluation of LSE archive collections (519 collections = 32,353 archive boxes), and are currently working on assessment of the TWL archive collections (293 collections = 4824 archive boxes).
- For LSE collections the evaluation has confirmed our main strengths to be in modern political and economic history (political parties, pressure groups and think tanks, politicians and campaigners, and inquiries, surveys and research projects on broad social issues – such as the Booth papers which were added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for the UK in June last year). There are particularly outstanding strengths in the areas of internationalism, LGBT+ equality and women’s equality, where even without considering TWL collections we have papers of key 19th and 20th politicians and campaigners such as Edith Summerskill, Kate Courtney and Margaret MacDonald
- The work on evaluating TWL archive collections is well advanced and the results are being fed into our planning for development work for next year, particularly around cataloguing and description and digitisation.
- Staffing changes:
- Education & Outreach Officer, Eleanor Payne, left in Oct. 2016. We delayed recruiting a replacement until we received confirmation of continuation of HEFCE Museums Galleries and Collections. We have had this and held interviews for the post two weeks ago and are hoping to make an appointment soon.
- Fabiana Barticioti, project cataloguer, is on maternity leave since summer 2016 and is due to return in August 2017. Funding for her post until May 2018
We are very grateful to the Friends for funding the purchase of two significant additions to the archive collections:
- National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies Badge – purchased by the Friends of the Women’s Library (including a donation from Jean Rankine in honour of Janet Grenier’s 80th birthday)
- Millicent Price commonplace book – which contains letters and press cuttings on her activities as a suffragette and complements her unpublished autobiography which is already in the collection
- Newly discovered letters by Nina and Barbara Last, describing their work in the Endell Street Military Hospital during WW1, donated by Nina’s granddaughter Annie Fox
- £5000 has been spent on purchasing new acquisitions for TWL stock, including new books for the Sadd-Brown Library, and we plan to continue buying material during the rest of this year, including the 8 volume set of the Palgrave Macmillan series The history of British women’s writing.
- We have also received some interesting donations over the year, including a complete run of the contemporary feminist arts magazine ‘N Paradoxa’ sent from the editor Katy Deepwell and a 1960s copy of ‘Women’s Realm’.
While the outcome of the collection evaluation project will be the primary guide to future digitisation work, we have already been involved in two partnership projects this year. These are for
- The Vera Jack Holme papers, which digitised by Gale/Cengage for inclusion in their ‘Archives of Sexuality & Gender, Part II’. As part of the agreement we will get copies of the digital images and permission to publish on our digital library once an initial period of exclusivity is over (7 years).
- As part of the ‘Deeds not Words’ project, a selection of papers and photographs from the Endell Street Military Hospital from Louisa Garrett Anderson and Nina Last archives have been digitised, will be published on the Digital Library in due course.
Reading room visits
The collection continues to be well used in the Reading Room. We have had 1336 visits to consult material from TWL collections since June last year, compared to 1219 the previous year, with a total of 2736 items being issued for consultation. The most popular collections remain those relating to women’s suffrage, and to prostitution and trafficking.
Use of the collection within LSE
In addition to regular use of the collection in the reading room we have made progress with our aim to increase the use of the collection within LSE itself. This has involved:
- Continued support for GI UG course Gender Politics and Civil Society, which we have built on to run introductory sessions for GI MA students to encourage use collection for dissertations.
- We have worked with PhD Academy to organise study day based on the Women’s Library collection, as part of LSE’s participation in the London AHRC consortium.
- And have also continued the relationship with Christine Chinkin and the Centre for Women, Peace and Security that began with ‘Women, Peace and Equality exhibition’ last year, helping them select material from the collection to display and talk about at their event ‘A history of tackling violence against women in the UK’, which aimed encourage lobbying for the UK to ratify the Istanbul Convention which was happening on 8 December.
- As well as integrating into general introductory sessions for UG courses within the Economic History department.
Promoting/facilitating use of the collection within wider HE community and beyond
Beyond LSE, we have organised, participated in or contributed to a wide range of other events for higher education or research community more generally. These include:
- introductory workshops on the collection for UG and PG courses on gender and sexuality at UCL and KCL.
- showcase sessions based on the women’s suffrage collections for students from Santa Rose Junior College and University of Richmond
- a facilitated teaching session on Sylvia Plath drawing on material from the collection for tutor and class from Kutztown University Pennsylvania
- introductory sessions on our collections, including TWL, for students on historical methods at Brunel University and the Institute of Historical Research.
- assisted Gillian Wearing with research for the monument to Millicent Fawcett. (We are grateful to Elizabeth Crawford for her help with this, and with the two archive acquisitions mentioned earlier).
- Promoted the collection at the 4th annual History Day hosted by SHL and the IHR
- Promote the collection and the Friends at the Feminism Late at the National Army Museum
The team has also been active at conferences and in print:
- GM gave a plenary lecture at ‘Doing Women’s Legal History’ on 26 October 2016 with a paper that looked at sources relating to women lawyers
- FB interrupted her maternity leave to talk on Movement for the Ordination of Women at Religious Archive Conference.
- GM wrote an article on researching suffrage material published in Your Family History, Nov 2016, and a peer-reviewed blog entry on Millicent Fawcett for University of Edinburgh’s Dangerous Women project
- Library hosted Erasmus study visit for two librarians from Kvinnsam, the Swedish National Women’s Library, based at Gothenburg University.
- Gillian joined Women’s History Network Committee, with responsibility for editing newsletter
Material from the collection has been an important part of many of the exhibitions we have put on since last year. In addition to the Endless Endeavours exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition, which ran from 23 April-27 August 2016 and attracted 6096 visitors, TWL material also featured in 2 out of three of exhibitions in 2016-7:
- Vera Jack Holme, TWL periodicals and Civil Partnership Collection in the ‘Glad to be Gay’ exhibition
- Harriett Martineau in the current ‘Wealth of Ideas’ exhibition
Material from the collection also featured in high profile exhibitions elsewhere:
- Fashion and Textile Museum – 1920s Jazz Age
- Imperial War Museum – People Power- Fighting for Peace (on until 25 August)
- Papers of Eglantyne Jebb – Central Family Court – Respected and Protected, rights of children. On until 1 August
The programme of public events linked to the collection continues to grow.
- This academic year we have so far welcomed over 350 people to events based on or inspired by TWL collections.
- Events organised around the Endless Endeavours exhibition in June 2016 also brought in 150 people (Sam Smethers chair of Fawcett, on what women’s equality means today, and discussion on the evolution of the suffrage societies and the history of the Fawcett Society).
- The most recent highlight was the Public Lecture given by Anne Summers to mark publication of her book. Christian and Jewish women in Britain, 1880-1940, which attracted an audience of over 70 people.
- As well as contributing to the LSE’s public programme, the regular talks organised by Friends also play a valuable role in promoting the collection. A particular highlights being the talk from Dr Mari Takayanagi on the significance of Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
- Lit Fest events were also a great success, including Sue O’Sullivan talking about working collectively on Spare Rib magazine, and Laura Beers on Red Ellen Wilkinson. Podcasts of both these talks available for those who missed them.
Education & Outreach
As mentioned earlier, we were very pleased to secure continued funding from HEFCE’s Museums Galleries and Collection fund for a further five years until the end of 2021/22 which has enabled us to recruit a replacement for Eleanor as Education & Outreach Officer.
Schools and communities programme
There has been a pause in the development of the school’s programme following Eleanor’s departure in October 2016. However, we have a replacement in place shortly which will allow us to move forward with this again in 2017-8. We have worked hard to maintain the contacts Eleanor made and hosted visits from both returning schools and new connections. But there have also been new developments. Partnered with arts producers Digital Drama on HLF funded schools and communities project Deeds Not Words, draws on TWL collections to explore and celebrate the history of the Endell Street Military Hospital run by arts producers Digital Drama
Collection Evaluation and plans for the coming year
We have identified 200 collections as initial priorities for future development, including promotion, outreach, cataloguing and digitisation. This will provide the framework for work next year which will include:
- Digitising initial selection of women’s suffrage sources. Grateful for generous support of Friends here.
- Digitising initial selection of women’s suffrage sources. Grateful for generous support of Friends here.
- 2018 plans. Exhibition over the summer, also planning programme of learning activities aimed at different audiences to run throughout the year. Part of wider network of plans so material from TWL will feature widely, including high-profile Vote100 project.
- Cataloguing 270 boxes of Fawcett Society, and planning to work with the Fawcett Society to review material they have in store, and develop more structured schedule and workflow for transferring material in future, including digital records, to ensure that important work they are doing is documented for the future, and that records can be made available here promptly after transfer. Kate is working on the cataloguing backlog, Nick with work with the FS on future transfers.
- Also a digital collecting project focussing on current campaigning/research on women’s equality. Focus on pamphlets, research and activity reports (by campaign groups and think tanks, campaign documents (eg Women’s Equality Party), document current issues and how current groups are addressing them.
- Fabi – on return from maternity leave: catalogue number of small collections re women and the church, including papers of Christian Howard, one of the founder members of Movement for the Ordination of Women
- Drafting a cataloguing plan for other collections. Not inconsiderable task. Only 48% (2375 boxes) of collections currently have an online catalogue. Half of these have some kind of survey lists, so thinking about how we can convert these into basic but accurate finding aids to provide a minimum level of access more quickly than traditional cataloguing, and considering how we might approach those 1000 boxes which have no finding aids at all. Know that Friends are keen to support cataloguing, so look forward to discussing this with them in due course.
- Also next year drawing up plans for additional digital collections. Collections on prostitution and trafficking are a strong possibility – great strength of the collection and consistently well-used in the reading room. Also perhaps suite of material re equal opportunities to tie in with anniversary of the 1919 Sex Disqualification Removal Act.
Professor Richard Pankhurst OBE 1927 – 2017
Ethiopia bids farewell to its greatest friend - click below to learn more
More women commemorated in stained glass
There is an attractive, modern window in Guildford Cathedral, Surrey, celebrating the first 60 years of Soroptimist International, a women’s organisation dedicated to the advancement of the status of women and to promoting the human rights of women and children internationally, nationally and locally. The window was designed by Lawrence Lee.
The central Soroptimist symbol was designed by Anita Houts Thompson of the USA, in 1928. It seems partly derived from suffrage propaganda (see The Appeal of Womanhood poster designed by Louise Jacobs of the Suffrage Atalier, 1912, page 214, The Spectacle of Women by Lisa Tickner). Laurel leaves symbolise achievement and oak leaves, strength. Womanhood, liberated from restrictive tight-lacing, wears a Grecian gym-slip, ready for action (or eurythmics). She reaches up to accept responsibility for the greatest and highest good. Behind Womanhood radiates the New Dawn for Women’s Rights (see New Dawn Women by V. Irene Cockroft; for book order details email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suffragettes Mary Allen (Commandant of the pioneer First World War, Women’s Auxiliary Police Service) and ‘General’ Flora Drummond were early presidents of SI clubs in the SI Great Britain and Ireland federation. Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, was an honorary member of the SI Greater London club.
The presidential insignia made by suffrage art-enameller Ernestine Mills for the SI London Mayfair club, is displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum jewellery collection, reference M.28:1, 2-2010. The historic chain on which names of presidents are engraved, is in store.
Photograph © V. Irene Cockroft
Women in stained glass at Crown Court Presbyterian Church
Just a short walk away from the LSE Library, in Covent Garden, is one of London’s best-kept-secret churches. The entrance door to Crown Court Church of Scotland, next to the Fortune Theatres in Russell Street, is worth seeking out. As the “Kirk of the Crown of Scotland”, it is the longest-established Presbyterian church south of the Scottish border, dating from 1711 (though the present building dates from 1909).
Funding for re-building was raised by the indomitable Lady Frances Balfour (incidentally president of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage among other commitments). The architect was her husband Eustace, who worked wonders with a severely restricted site. The church’s unique stained glass includes a window of women from the Bible, and a window depicting Lady Frances Balfour and her sister Lady Victoria Campbell.
Friends member Dr Joan Huffman of Macon, USA, will be speaking to us about her forthcoming biography of Lady Frances in September.
Photograph © David Cockroft
Crown Court Church address and contact details:
London WC2B 5EZ
Telephone: 020 7836 5643
© V. Irene Cockroft, 26 Feb 2017
CHRISTIAN AND JEWISH WOMEN IN BRITAIN, 1880 -1940
This book offers an entirely new contribution to the history of multiculturalism in Britain, 1880-1940. It shows how friendship and co-operation between Christian and Jewish women changed lives and, as the Second World War approached, actually saved them. The networks and relationships explored include the thousand-plus women from every district in Manchester who combined to send a letter of sympathy to the Frenchwoman at the heart of the Dreyfus Affair; the religious leagues for women’s suffrage who initiated the first interfaith campaigning movement in British history; the collaborations, often problematic, on refugee relief in the 1930s; the close ties between the founder of Liberal Judaism in Britain, and the wife of the leader of the Labour Party, between the wealthy leader of the Zionist women’s movement and a passionate socialist woman MP. A great variety of sources are thoughtfully interrogated, and concluding remarks address some of the social concerns of the present century.
Recent Visit to the Christina Broom Exhibition
On 28 September, Friends paid a group visit to the Museum of London at Docklands to see a remarkable exhibition of work by the pioneer female press photographer Christina Broom (1863-1939). Our visit included a fascinating lecture from the Curator, Anna Sparham, about Broom’s unusual career, and about the emergence of new techniques of producing and marketing photography at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition was titled ‘Soldiers and Suffragettes’. Broom obtained remarkably close access to military quarters in London, and it was impossible not to be touched by the intimacy and directness of her group portraits of servicemen, especially those made during World War I. However, the suffrage photographs (the title notwithstanding, the constitutional movement also featured here) which were taken between 1908 and 1913 were inevitably the most moving and interesting for us. We saw many familiar and unfamiliar faces, pictured at indoor and outdoor meetings,in pageants, processions, drum and fife bands, wearing historical costume: these were all wonderfully vivid images, hitherto largely unseen. Now that the exhibition is closed, we can only recommend that Friends purchase the fully illustrated catalogue from the Museum of London as a Christmas present for themselves.
The Women’s National Memorial at York Minster.
Yes, cathedrals, and cathedral windows, can tell us a lot about women and their history.
At Bristol, as the notes below show us, the windows give a vivid, pictorial account of women’s civilian war work. In York Minster, by contrast, the Five Sisters window that fills the end of the minster’s north transept with its grisaille glass, invites us to ponder rather than read a story. The window forms a memorial to women who died in the First World War. The names of over 1,500 are recorded on the panels of a screen to the side-chapel of St Nicholas, also in the transept. The window is very ancient, dating from the mid-thirteenth century; the panels were installed ninety years ago. There are no images and little colour, only the greenish-grey tones of the glass and the gleam of polished and gilded oak. This almost abstract statement of loss and absence leaves a very powerful impression.
The creation of this memorial is intriguing, combining as it does touches of mysticism with clear-sighted planning. The initiative came from a woman named Helen Little, who lived in York. Searching for a way to bring into being the national memorial she longed to see raised to the women who had died, she conceived the idea of a restoration of the Five Sisters window in a dream, or vision, of her two little sisters, long dead, as they stood in the north transept. This vision came to her in the autumn of 1922 and continued to guide her interpretation of the memorial. The Dean and Chapter of York Minster gave their backing. The practical aspects of fundraising were then put in the hands of Mrs Almyra Gray, also of York, a JP and past president of the National Council of Women.
The restoration of the Five Sisters window formed part of a comprehensive post-war restoration of the minster’s glass. The sum required for this particular project was £3,000. In the first instance Mrs Gray proposed a direct approach to every woman in Yorkshire, who would be invited to donate and raise further funds. Princess Mary, the daughter of George V and Queen Mary, gave her patronage to the scheme and contributed £50. The appeal took off when women living in other parts of Britain and, further afield, in the British Dominions—the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa—requested that they too might be allowed to donate to the fund. Within nine weeks of its launch in February 1923, the appeal had produced £3,555, enough to cover the restoration of the window and to permit the erection of a screen and memorial panels.
From May 1923, the window’s sixty-five panels were progressively removed to the minster’s workshops. There the grisaille glass of which they were largely formed was restored and re-leaded. (Grisaille was produced through painting panels of clear or white or silvery-grey glass with designs, often geometric or of foliage, in black or brown pigment. The pieces were re-fired, then held together with lead rods to form an intricate whole. The resulting effect is a pearly or grey tone.) Construction of the screen and twelve commemorative panels and collection of the names to be recorded were put in hand. On the panels, military ranks mingle with civilian organisations, and the names of British women with those of women from the Dominions. Well over half of the women had been active as nurses, medical and hospital workers and doctors. Women members of all three branches of the armed forces appear. Women munition workers are recorded in large numbers, accompanied by nearly fifty stewardesses who had served in the Mercantile Marine. A further panel lists women from seven small civilian organisations, some engaged in relief work.
Finally, on 24 June 1925, the restored window was unveiled by the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI) and the screen dedicated. The memorial remembers the women who died, but also celebrates an initiative conceived and funded by women for other women.
There are many good reasons for visiting the Cathedrals of this country, but one might not think of them as places for exploring and celebrating modern women’s history. On a recent visit to Bristol, I realised how mistaken I had been. On entering the Cathedral, you are almost literally dazzled by gorgeous modern stained glass windows celebrating women’s and men’s war work.
Arnold Wathen Robinson (1888-1955), a local artist of great distinction, executed four windows commemorating civilian services in Bristol during World War II, when the city suffered severe bombardment. The window nearest the entrance is dedicated to the St John Ambulance and Nursing Services, showing a St John stretcher-bearer, a matron at her medicine cabinet and a nurse with a sick child. The next window is dedicated to the British Red Cross and the Fire Service, and includes a Red Cross stretcher-bearer and a nurse with trolley; both a firewoman and a fireman are shown for the Fire Service. Next to them is a depiction of the Wardens’ Service – a male air-raid warden with axe, stirrup pump and bell and a female warden with rattle – alongside two officers, male and female, of the Bristol Police. The fourth window shows on one side two Home Guardsmen, and on the other the Women’s Voluntary Service, illustrated by a WVS telephonist and a woman caring for a small girl clutching her teddy bear.
Walking round the Cathedral I saw a memorial to an earlier representative of the female tradition of voluntary work.
Mary Clifford (1842-1919) is a more recognizably modern figure than one might guess from the rather 18th-century headgear she is wearing in this relief portrait. One of a cohort of late 19th-century women who stood for election as Guardians of the Poor, she was also involved at an early stage with the National Union of Women Workers (which became the National Council of Women) and served a term as its President in 1904-5. A devout Christian, she is said to have ‘feared the secular spirit of the foreign Women’s Unions’, but this did not prevent her representing Britain at the International Council of Women in Berlin in 1904 and speaking on the contemporary-sounding topic of ‘The Unmarried Mother and her Child’. She was also a staunch Anglican, saying of a meeting concerning an NUWW conference in 1890: ‘the tone was on the whole, one felt, rather Churchy, and I think it’s very sweet of the Non. Cons. [sic] to endure with entire meekness the unconscious attitude of superiority that Church people take. At the same time, it seemed to be a proof that they recognised the value of our ways and our stand’.No surprise, perhaps, to find such a loyal churchwoman commemorated in the Cathedral where she must often have attended divine service.
But the third commemoration which I found on my visit was of a member of a distinguished family of Unitarians. Mary Carpenter (1807-77) was a passionate social and educational reformer, who pioneered special provision outside adult prisons for children and adolescents who fell foul of the law.
The ‘Red House’ where she offered residence and training to girls can still be visited in Central Bristol. Her interest in social reform in India is also mentioned on her memorial plaque. Clearly, her influence extended far beyond the circles in which she grew up; and her fellow-citizens in Bristol took pride in her achievements ‘in this City and Realm’.
My question to my readers is this: have I been walking round other Cathedrals with my eyes closed? Or is Bristol exceptional in the notice in takes of women’s work?
In Search of Muriel Carew Hunt
In 1941 Newnham College, Cambridge received a bequest of funds to create a memorial in stained glass to ‘the noble work done by women in the Great War’. The bequest came in fulfilment of the will of Miss Muriel Ada Sneyd Carew Hunt, made in 1931. The money was eventually used to commission a series of four sculptures in glass and steel, representing the Four Seasons, from the distinguished sculptor, Geoffrey Clarke. His description of the works appears below. They are displayed in the glass corridor which connects Strachey and Pfeiffer Buildings in Newnham College.
Newnham College would like very much to know more about this benefactor. If you are able to help, please contact the College Archivist, Anne Thomson at Newnham College, Cambridge CB3 9DF or e-mail: email@example.com
Miss Carew Hunt was not an alumna of the College and according to her brother, her only surviving close relative, had no connection of any kind to Newnham. One hypothesis is that she knew of and shared the commitment of the College and its students to the work of Dr Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women’s Hospital Units. The Units, who worked predominantly on the Eastern Front, were supported with funds and supplies throughout the War by the students of Newnham and Girton; and a number of them went to work in various capacities for the Units after completing their courses. The remainder of Miss Carew Hunt’s estate was bequeathed to two London hospitals.
The sculptures continue to make a powerful impact. They have perhaps added resonance because they are one of only two examples of twentieth century glass in Cambridge colleges; and because in these years we mark the centenary of the Great War.
The Four Seasons – an allegory
Geoffrey Clarke ARCA
Each season is represented by a plant-like form in various stages of development. The plant symbolises man. The horizontal represents the surface of the earth in each instance. The beginning is really in winter. The young shoot, on the right, is appearing.
Upward movement of young plant form. The root is undeveloped.
Plant opens revealing bloom. The sun is high. Root develops.
Plant physically past its prime. Seed drops. Identity of root almost complete.
Plant dies, Root life continues now fully developed, more obviously a cross, symbolising man’s soul.