Papers of Dorothy Mary Elliott

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of a typescript of Dorothy Elliot's memoirs (1914-1969) in which she described a lifetime of work in organisations dealing with the problems of women in employment. See her biographical history for details of the organisations she worked for. Mrs Elliott concluded the memoir with a tribute to the power of 'domesticity in its fullest sense'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy Mary Elliott (1897-1980) was born in 1897 and educated at the University of Reading where she graduated in Modern Languages. During the First World War she was involved in Munitions work in Birmingham in 1916 and it was here that she first became involved in the trade union movement. After this experience, Elliott attended classes at the London School of Economics where she met the trade unionist Mary MacArthur. It was through MacArthur that she was introduced to the National Federation of Women Workers for which she was to become an organiser in Woolwich Arsenal in 1918. From 1921 she transferred her organising skills to the National Union of General and Municipal Workers before moving to Lancashire in 1924 to continue her work there. When Margaret Bondfield became a Member of Parliament, Elliott was appointed the union's Chief Woman Organiser from 1924 to 1925 and then again in 1929 to 1931. In 1931 she became the Chair of the National Labour Women's Conference and a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Industrial Women's Organisations. She also worked with the Women's Electrical Association in this period and became a regular speaker at the Labour Party's Women's' Sections and the Co-operative Women's Guild. By 1939 she was Chief Woman Officer for the Trade Union movement as a whole. During the Second World War Elliott was one of the representatives sent by the TUC sent to attend the Committee of Woman Power and was a member of the Women's Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Labour from 1941. Throughout her career she had been an advocate of equal pay for women and of the married woman's right to work. It was this perspective that she brought to her post-war work on the committee concerned with the admission of women to the senior foreign service and the Women's Consultative Committee dealing with the resettlement of women in civilian life. It was in 1946 that she was granted a sabbatical by the union to become Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Houseworkers and it was in this capacity that she attended the International Labour Organisation's meetings in Hamburg to discuss the conditions of domestic workers the following year. Initially set up to improve the status and conditions of women working in the home, under her guidance the National Institute expanded into an education and training centre which set examinations and granted diplomas, becoming known as the Institute of House Craft (Training and Employment). She continued this work until 1958 when she retired from the organisation but did not give up her trade union work until 1961 when she finally retired. Elliott died in 1980.

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 - Fawcett Library Accession Registers to be checked.

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (1 folder only)

Related Material

London Metropolitan University is also responsible for the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) Library.