Archive of the Parliamentary Committee for Women's Suffrage

  • Reference
      GB 133 PCWS
  • Dates of Creation
      1892-1903; 1923
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      0.3 li.m.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

Archive of the Parliamentary Committee for Women's Suffrage, a mainstream suffragist group active in the 1890s. Most material in the archive dates from 1892 to 1903 although the bulk of the material relates only to the period before Temple's death. The material appears to have been compiled and/or collected by Mary Cozens and PCWS/1/3 and PCWS/1/4, in particular, appear to be her personal journals/scrapbooks of events.

The archive consists of (so called) minute books, annual reports and other, mostly printed, material relating to the Parliamentary Committee and the campaign for women's suffrage.

There are also 2 items, dated 1923, which relate to the transfer of the archive to the John Rylands Library.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Parliamentary Committee for Women's Suffrage was founded on 18 December 1893. The Committee's raison d'être was to secure the Parliamentary Franchise for women and, in pursuit of this objective, its members supported the passage of all pertinent bills and amendments and maintained regular communication with members of both Houses of Parliament. The Committee had offices in Westminster Chambers, Victoria Street, South West London.

The Parliamentary Committee began life as a non-party organisation but in 1897 it became Conservative. Membership was open to anyone who supported and subscribed to their aims and a minority of its members were M.P.s. In the first year of its existence its members included 16 M.P.s and this number was to rise to 31 by 1897 before falling to 18 by 1901.

From the inception of the Parliamentary Committee in 1893 to his death 9 years later, its President was Sir Richard Temple, M.P. (1826-1902) and the Honorary Secretary during this period was Mary Cozens. Subsequently Mr B.L. Cohen, M.P. became President.

Despite its name, the Parliamentary Committee does not appear to have had any official links with the Government.


Within each class the items have been arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end.

It should be noted that offprints, handbills, leaflets and pamphlets, have frequently been placed in order according to the date of the original letter, article or speech which they reproduce, this being the only date recorded; the lapse of time before publication is unknown.

The archive consists of 7 classes as follows:

  • PCWS/1 Minute Books, 1895-1901
  • PCWS/2 Annual Reports, 1894-1902
  • PCWS/3 Other Reports, 1899
  • PCWS/4 Items Pertaining to Membership and Constitution, 1894-1903
  • PCWS/5 Miscellaneous Publications of the Parliamentary Committee, 1892-1897 and n.d.
  • PCWS/6 Miscellaneous Items Collected by the Parliamentary Committee, 1892-1903 and n.d.
  • PCWS/7 Items Relating to the Transfer of the Archive to the John Rylands Library, 1923.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated to the John Rylands Library in 1923 by Margaret E. Ridley.

Other Finding Aids


Alternative Form Available

The collection is open to any accredited user.

Items in class PCWS/1 are published on Reel 7 of the microfilm Campaign for Women's Suffrage 1895-1920: Papers of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, the Parliamentary Committee for Women's Suffrage and the Manchester Men's League for Women's Suffrage from the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, (Woodbridge: Research Publications, 1990).  They will usually be issued in this form.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP.

Related Material

The Library also holds archives of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA ), the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWS ) and the Manchester Men's League for Women's Suffrage (MML ). See also the correspondence of C.P. Scott with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst within the Guardian Archive. There are also a number of women's suffrage journals. Readers may find it useful to consult Margaret Barrow Women 1870- 1928: A Select Guide to Printed and Archival Sources in the United Kingdom (London: Mansell, 1981) .