Records of the National Association of Women Civil Servants

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes of the Executive Committee (1931-1959) including officers meetings (1938-1940, 1953-1959), subcommittees (1931-59), of the Finance Committee (1952-1959) with monthly financial statements (1938-1941, 1955-1959), subcommittees (1935-1936) and annual delegates conference (1932-42, 1948-59); papers of Whitley Councils (1952-1955) and arbitration awards (1925-1940); correspondence files (1932-1945); miscellaneous papers (1948-1959); pamphlets, publicity materials and publications (1914-1950s) including newsletters (1936 [incomplete], 1939-43, 1944-1952), monthly letters to branch secretaries (1933-40) and Opportunity (1935-40); papers of constituent bodies including Association of Post Office Women Clerks (1901-1932), the Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries (1919-1935); correspondence regarding typing grades (1914-1949), branches (1936-7, 1950-2), general secretary (1933-1935), organising secretary (1943-1944) and with other bodies (1938, 1945-50); membership records (1955-1958) and personal case files 1949-1958); papers related to equal pay campaigns (1918-1948) and the establishment of temporary staff (1919-50), evacuation (1940-1946) and reconstruction (1942-1946); papers related to the dissolution of the group (1958-1961).

ABBREVIATIONS

NAWCS National Association of Women Civil Servants.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Association of Women Civil Servants (1932-1959) was established in 1932, after a major reorganisation of the Civil Service took place. Grades that had been structured around each department were now merged across the entire service to form four basic bands. Additionally, efforts to introduce arbitration and militated for what would become Whitley Councils for the negotiation of pay and conditions had taken place in which most of the civil service trades unions had been involved. However, the report presented by the official Joint Reorganisation Committee maintained that there should be a separate selection process for women that did not involve the traditional male recruitment method of examination and lower wages for women working in the same grades as men. The Federation of Women Civil Servants had opposed this and when the mixed gender unions failed to support their position, the Federation withdrew from the staff side of the Council as well as from the Civil Service Alliance, losing its seat in the Whitley in the process. The group found itself weakened as members left for larger mixed unions that were better represented on the Whitley Councils. Along with the Association of Women Clerks & Secretaries, it found itself in crisis and the resulting situation led to the amalgamation of the two in 1932 the creation of the National Association of Women Civil Servants. The aims of this new organisation were to campaign for financial equality with male civil servants and to gain recognition for women who were not members of the general grade-based organisations. In the 1920s and 1930s they were closely involved with the campaign for equal pay and consequently had close links with the London and National Society for Women's Service. The group was represented on the Joint Committee of Women in the Civil Service at this time. In the early thirties, they were responsible for a number of public rallies and meetings on the issue as well as presenting evidence to the Royal Commission on the Civil Service in 1929-31. In the same decade they published a journal, 'Opportunity', which continued until 1940. In 1938 they joined with the Association of Ex-Service Civil Servants to form the Federation of Civil Servants. Chaired by Dorothy Evans, they remained active on the issue of equal pay in the Civil Service into the next decade and were represented on the Equal Pay Campaign Committee after the Second World War. The group also presented evidence to the Royal Commission on Equal Pay which was held after the war as well as holding an investigation of recruitment of the over-40s in the 1950s. However, their influence waned as women continued to join mixed gender unions. The process of dissolution was begun in 1958, there was a resolution on 25 Mar 1959 and this ended with the winding up of the group in 1961.

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

It appears the material came in in 4 accessions, the Fawcett Library Accession Registers need to be checked for details.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the following papers 6APC Association of Post Office Women Clerks, 6AWC Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries, and 6FCS Federation of Women Civil Servants, and objects (part of the Museum Collection).