Papers of Dorothy Elizabeth Evans

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of drafts, typescripts, proofs, correspondence, comments on the drafts of Miss Evans' book 'Women and the Civil Service', published by Pitman. (4 folders)

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy Evans (1889-1944) was born in Stockport in 1889 and was educated at the North London Collegiate School. She went on to train as a Gymnastics Mistress at Dartford College before going on to study at Chelsea Training College. It was there, in 1907, that she became a member of the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU). After her training was complete, she became the group's organiser for the Birmingham and Midland Counties area in 1909, but was arrested that same year for attempting to confront a cabinet minister and stone throwing. After paying a fine, she was released but was re-arrested for failing to pay a dog tax as part in protest at women's taxation without the benefit of political representation. This time, in 1910, she was imprisoned for her actions. During the following four years she was arrested nine times for various offences, went on hunger-strike and was force fed a number of times. When the Pankhursts and other leaders of the WSPU were threatened with arrests and fled to France, Evans was left in charge of the London offices and then became a liaison officer between Paris and London. She was subsequently posted to Bristol and then to Northern Ireland where she was arrested in possession of explosives. She remained on remand in various prisons in the country until 1914 when she was released under the general amnesty offered to members of the WSPU at the outbreak of war. During the Great War she was appointed a gymnastics teacher at Shrewsbury College. However, she continued as a speaker for pacifism throughout the period. In 1915, she was one of those refused a pass to attend the Women's Peace Conference in the Hague but was permitted to travel to the United States after the war to take part in a peace campaign there. On her return, she became a Women's International League organiser and later occupied the same position in the Women's Freedom League. It was in the wake of the First World War that her only daughter was born to her and her partner Albert Emil Davies. The pair chose not to marry due to the legal disability brought on women by marriage at the time and she remained a supporter of the rights of unmarried mothers throughout her life. It was also in the inter-war period that her work with civil service unions began, beginning with her appointment as a representative of the National Association of Women Civil Servants on the Consultative Committee of Women's Organisations in 1921. It was through the National Association that much of her campaigning for financial equality with male civil servants was done and through it she became a member of the drafting committee of the Consultative Committee the following year. In the 1920s and 1930s, Evans and the NAWCS (known as the Federation of Civil Servants from 1938) were closely involved with the campaign for equal pay and consequently had close links with the London and National Society for Women's Service. She also carried out work concerned with the status of women, becoming a leading member of the Six Point Group from its creation in 1921 and establishing the sub-committee on housewives issues which would become the Married Women's Association. She additionally collated a memorandum on the position of women in Britain and the Dominions which was incorporated into the World Report on the Status of Women by the League of Nations and lobbied that organisation to ratify an Equal Rights Treaty through the 1920s and 1930s. On the outbreak of the Second World War she continued to work for pacifism and for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom of which she had been Secretary since 1923. However, her main concerns at this time was campaigning on issues such as female volunteers in the Civil Defence Services receiving two-thirds the man's pay and compensation rate provided for by the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act of 1939. She was involved in the Equal Compensation Campaign from 1941 to 1943 and became a member of the Equal Pay Campaign Committee in 1944, to ensure equal pay in the Civil Service. She was also active in the Women for Westminster group at this time and the drafted the Equal Citizenship (Blanket) Bill of 1944. Her death, when it came, was sudden. In Aug 1944 she travelled to Glasgow to speak at a meeting. The following day she was taken ill and was operated on immediately but died two days later at the age of 55.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Unknown. Deposited pre May 1974 when it was first listed. [Fawcett Library Accession Registers to be checked]

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (4 folders only)

Related Material

The Women's library also hold the papers of the following organisations which Dorothy Evans was involved: the Consultative Committee of Women's Organisations (Ref. 5CWO), the Council of Married Women (Ref. 5CMW), the Married Women's Association (Ref. 5MWA), the Six Point Group (Ref. 5SPG), Women for Westminster (Refs. 5BWW and 7TBG), the Equal Pay Campaign Committee (Ref. 6EPC) and the National Association of Women Civil Servants (Ref. 6NCS).