Records of the National Advisory Centre on Careers for Women

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes and papers of the Executive Committee, the Advisory Committee, the Employment Committee and the Annual General Meeting; annual reports and reports of the Women's service Bureau; Financial Committee minutes, papers and accounts; Advisory Department agendas and reports; correspondence; circular letters.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Advisory Centre on Careers for Women (1933-1995) was founded in 1933. During the First World War, the London National Society for Women's Suffrage opened a Women's Service Department to find openings for volunteer workers as well as taking the lead in training women for war work. At the end of the war the parent organisation became the London National Society for Women's Service (LNSWS), and the section became the Women's Employment Department, continuing its work until 1922. It concentrated on the problems of women left unemployed by the returning male workers. The Carnegie Trust, which funded its activities for a time, made attempts to integrate it with the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women, but this failed and the department closed due to financial problems. In 1933, this function was largely taken over by a new group called, initially the National Federation of Organisations Concerned with the Employment and Training of Women, soon renamed the Women's Employment Federation. It maintained close connections with the LNSWS, and shared premises with them until 1939 with the LNSWS president Ray Strachey as its first organising secretary. It too was funded by the Carnegie Trust but this time its object was to co-ordinate the work of organisations dealing with women's employment, to prevent overlapping and to assist each in its individual work by offering opportunities for consultation and co-operation between them. The constituent organisations were all concerned with the employment and training of women, such as: the Association of Assistant Mistresses, the Association of Head Mistresses, the Midwives Institute, the National Association of Women Pharmacists, the Council of Women Civil Servants, as well as women's schools and universities. Between them they decided on the election of the executive committee and the policies of the group. The group contained an Advisory Department that collected information on careers and openings that were then available to members and the public, as well as organising advice, publications and speakers. Between 1935 and 1940 it received an average of 3816 enquiries annually and in 1939 was asked to compile a national register of women workers. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the group moved to Bedford College. When its main organiser, Ray Strachey, died in 1940, others took over the work and it was her friend, Irene Hilton, that remained the Federation's organisation secretary from 1948 until 1971, when it became the National Advisory Centre on Careers for Women. This remained its name until 1991 when it became Careers for Women. It ceased operating in 1995.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Custodial History

The papers were given to the Library by the National Advisory Centre on Careers for Women in Nov 1983. Some further records were located amongst 'unsorted archival miscellany' during the move of the Library to the new building, 2002 and formally accessioned, July 2003.

Related Material

Further records of the National Advisory Centre on Careers for Women, the Women's Employment Federation and Careers for Women are held by the Women's Library in the records of Careers for Women (see 6CFW). The Women's Library Printed Collections hold further publications by these organisations.