Labour Party Chief Woman Officers' Papers

Scope and Content

There are minutes of the Standing Joint Committee on Industrial Women's Organisations from 1916 and the Labour Women's Advisory Committee from 1916 to 1966. You can obtain subsequent minutes of these committees from the Labour Party National Executive Committee minutes.

There is correspondence and memoranda of the various women's officers from 1919 to 1960. There is subsequent unlisted correspondence of the woman officers, Joyce (later Baroness) Gould (b.1932) and Betty (later Baroness) Lockwood (b 1924), mainly relating to women's conference resolutions in the 1970s and 1980s.

There is also material in the 1990s relating to the debate on women's quotas in the 1990s. The Labour History Archives and Study Centre holds a run of the Labour Woman from 1911 to 1971 and women's conference reports from 1927 to 1990.

Administrative / Biographical History

These papers come from the Labour Party Women's Department and its related committees. The Labour Party created a Women's Department, with a Chief Women's Officer in 1919. Propertied women had been enfranchised in 1918 and a women's section had been put on to the Party's National Executive Committee as part of their new constitution, which had been drafted by Sidney Webb in 1917.

The Party's first chief woman officer was Marion Phillips (1881-1932). She was appointed in 1919. She was succeeded on her death by Mary Sutherland (1895-1972), who held the post until 1960. The Standing Joint Committee of Industrial (later Working) Women's Committee was set up in 1916. This became an integral part of the Labour Party's organisation, with the Chief Woman Officer as its secretary. Its work was superseded in the 1950s by the National Labour Women's Advisory Committee. The first National Conference of Labour Women was held in 1927.

The Labour Party Women's Department inherited from the Labour Women's League its journal Labour Woman, 1911-1971.


The papers are in the main divided between committee minutes and correspondence.

Access Information

Access by appointment


This collection level description was created for the Genesis project by Stephen Bird and encoded for the Archives Hub by Janette Martin.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is not fully listed. A file list is currently being made.

Conditions Governing Use

Standard reprography conditions apply and are available on request from the archive.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates and surplus material are discarded on file listing.

Custodial History

In 1990 the Labour Party deposited its archive and library at the People's History Museum (formerly National Museum of Labour History) in Manchester. The collection is now held at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, which is based at the head office of the People's History Museum and managed by the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.


There was a large deposit of Labour Party material in February 2002. This contains women's organisation papers. Future deposits are expected.

Related Material

In the Labour Party archives there is a file in the Labour Party subject files on women's suffrage. There are two files in the J.S. Middleton papers on women's international issues and three files on other women's issues. In the War Emergency Workers' National Committee papers there are five files on women's issues during World War I. In the Labour Party General Secretary's papers there is a large file on women's issues 1930-62. There are alsoCongress reports of The international Federation of Social Democratic Women in the Labour and Socialist International papers.

See also the papers of Dr Marion Phillips who was secretary of the Standing Joint Committee of Industrial Women's Organisations, 1916-1932, and a member of the Consumer Council, 1917-1920.