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Birth of Feminisms (SO111)

The Modern Records Centre holds nationally important collections for the study of political, social and economic history. Just a small selection of documents relevant to the course 'Birth of Feminisms' are shown below.

How to find out more about the documents:

Click on the reference codes of the documents to go to their descriptions in our on-line catalogues. This can help you to put the documents in context and find similar items.

Where to find more sources:

Other relevant documents are included in the online exhibitions on 'Advice to Mothers' and 'The Struggle for Equal Pay', and the module resources for 'Feminism, Politics, and Social Change in Modern Britain', 'Gender, History and Politics in Britain', 'The Victorian City', 'Making of the Modern World: Identities' and 'British Culture and the Great War'. Try searching our online catalogues to find other sources.

Interested in using primary sources in your work? - find out more about using archives

 

'Rational dress' by Kate Clark, 1894

'Rational dress' by Kate Clark, 1894

Article from the 16 May 1894 edition of the cycling magazine 'The Wheeler' on "the extraordinary strides made in this movement". The same edition includes an article on 'Cycling and woman's manifold nature' by Miss N.G. Bacon.

[Included in the Cyclists' Touring Club archive; document reference: MSS.328/C/5/WHE/7]

'Women in the world', by Caroline E.D. Martyn, July 1895'Women in the world', by Caroline E.D. Martyn, July 1895

'Women in the world', by Caroline E.D. Martyn, July 1895

Article from 'The Labour Prophet', journal of the Labour Church. Martyn argues that "the real freedom of women" will be achieved by overcoming the wrongs "inflicted on them as a class rather than a sex".

[Included in papers re Rev. John Trevor; document reference: MSS.143/5/1/2]

'Our Woman's Letter', February 1905'Our Woman's Letter', February 1905

'Our Woman's Letter', February 1905

Column by Annie Hall from 'The York Labour News'. This month's column (reproduced here in two parts) discusses the need for women's suffrage. It includes examples of other countries that have introduced votes for women, together with responses to particular arguments against the extension of the franchise.

[Included in the archive of the Postmen's Federation; document reference: MSS.148/PF/4/4/10]

'Women's Employment', 15 November 1912'Women's Employment', 15 November 1912

'Women's Employment', 15 November 1912

Issue of a magazine issued by the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women, "dealing with the professions and employments of educated women". It includes an article on "openings for women in India".

[Included in the archives of the Institute of Personnel Management; document reference: MSS.97/5/35]

Circular from the Women's Social and Political Union, 1914Circular from the Women's Social and Political Union, 1914

Circular from the Women's Social and Political Union, 1914

Emily Pankhurst exorts her supporters to renew "our splendid War of Independence" as parliament reassembles, and to join a deputation to the King. Another circular from 1914 is included in the document resources for 'British Culture and the Great War'.

[Included in the 'Miscellaneous series'; document reference: MSS.21/1815]

'Wage-earning women and their dependants', 1915'Wage-earning women and their dependants', 1915

'Wage-earning women and their dependants', 1915

Fabian Society pamphlet by Ellen Smith, reporting on an inquiry into the number of dependents wholly or partially supported by working women. Part of the intention behind the inquiry was to prove the argument that only men used their wages to support their families as false, thus strengthening the case for equal pay. The section reproduced here is a summary of the results in Northampton.

[Included in the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/3]

'Women should be granted the parliamentary vote because...', 1916'Women should be granted the parliamentary vote because...', 1916

'Women should be granted the parliamentary vote because...', 1916

Text of speech, probably by Leslie Scott, a Conservative MP for Liverpool, which contains 20 reasons why women should have the vote - the first two pages are reproduced here. The first page of a companion speech - 'Objections to women's suffrage stated and answered' - is reproduced as part of the resources for 'Making of the Modern World: Identities'.

[Included in the papers of Sir Lesie Scott; document reference: MSS.119/3/S/LI/9-10]

'Babies in the right place' (1922)

'Babies in the right place' (1922)

Copy of advertisement for the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress, founded by Marie Stopes in 1921. The advert is included as part of the evidence of Dr Stopes to the Royal Commission on the Press (published in 1953), in which she talks about how she has been affected by censorship.

[Included in the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/27/7]

Labour Party election leaflet aimed at new women voters, 1928

Labour Party election leaflet aimed at new women voters, 1928

Limited women’s suffrage was granted in 1918. This leaflet was published in 1928, the year that all men and women over the age of 21 were given the vote. Labour won the General Election the following year.

[From the records of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, document reference: MSS.36/L41/i].

'Questions for women voters': 'Should women be paid as much as men?', 1928'Questions for women voters': 'Should women be paid as much as men?', 1928

'Questions for women voters': 'Should women be paid as much as men?', 1928

Text of a BBC debate between Ellen Wilkinson MP and William H. Thoday of the National Association of School Masters. Two pages of the nine page transcript have been reproduced here. More documents on this subject are included in the image gallery 'The Struggle for Equal Pay'.

[Included in the archives of the National Association of Schoolmasters; document reference: MSS.38A/6/THO/1/10]

Letter from the Maternal Mortality Committee, 1933Letter from the Maternal Mortality Committee, 1933 

Letter from the Maternal Mortality Committee, 1933

It emphasises the need to reduce deaths from childbirth through education. Other documents relating to maternal mortality and childcare are included in the image gallery 'Advice to Mothers'.

[Included in a file on maternity and child welfare, from the archives of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/824/1].

'Mothercraft', by Kathleen E. Fletcher, 1936'Mothercraft', by Kathleen E. Fletcher, 1936

'Mothercraft', by Kathleen E. Fletcher, 1936

Textbook in the 'Modern Housewife' series, intended for use in senior schools. Others in the series included 'Cookery', 'Laundry work' and 'Housewifery'.

[Included in the archives of the National Association of Teachers of Home Economics and Technology; document reference: MSS.177/5/7/1]

'Health & Beauty: A book for girls', 1939'Health & Beauty: A book for girls', 1939

'Health & Beauty: A book for girls', 1939

Pamphlet published by the Health and Cleanliness Council, explaining to women how "super-cleanliness" will make them beautiful. The sections reproduced here contain tips for the "home girl" and the "business girl".

[Included in the archives of the National Association of Teachers of Home Economics and Technology; document reference: MSS.177/5/8/4]

'Are you equal to two German women?', c1941'Are you equal to two German women?', c1941

'Are you equal to two German women?', c1941

Part of a four page advert reprinted from 'Women and Beauty', which encouraged women "to get into the factories quickly" and train to do precision engineering.

[Included in the archives of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/60.21/1]

National Conference of Women called by H.M. Government: report of proceedings, 1943National Conference of Women called by H.M. Government: report of proceedings, 1943

National Conference of Women called by H.M. Government: report of proceedings, 1943

Proceedings from a conference at the Royal Albert Hall, addressed by members of the wartime government and attended by representatives of women workers and members of women's organisations. The section reproduced here contains the speech to the conference by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

[Included in the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/25]

'"Equal Pay" What it is and what it means', 1944'"Equal Pay" What it is and what it means', 1944

'"Equal Pay" What it is and what it means', 1944

Pamphlet issued by the campaign group Aims of Industry. It explains why equal pay is a very bad idea. The pages reproduced here contrast 'The man's responsibilities' and the 'liabilities' of women.

[Included in the archives of the National Association of Schoolmasters; document reference: MSS.38A/5/11]

'Women at War - Their future in peace', [1945?]'Women at War - Their future in peace', [1945?] 

'Women at War - Their future in peace', [1945?]

Pamphlet on the "special problem" caused by the demobilisation of members of the Women's Auxiliary Services, published by the Economic League.

[Included in the archives of the British Employers' Confederation; document reference: MSS.200/B/3/2/C971/1]

Coventry Unemployed Workers Association, 1956

Coventry Unemployed Workers Association, 1956

Copy of letter sent by R.B. Ritchie, Coventry Borough Labour Party agent, to Councillor William Jones. Ritchie is objecting to the employment of married women whose husbands are in work, by Coventry Transport, when many unemployed men are rejected.

[Included in the archives of Coventry Borough Labour Party; document reference: MSS.11/3/10/550]