Records of the Liverpool Association of Graduate Women

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of the Liverpool Association of Graduate Women, comprising: minute books 1919-1968, 1970-1974; other records of and relating to the association 1990s

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Federation of University Women (nowadays entitled the British Federation of Women Graduates) was founded in 1907 to bring graduate women together in friendly groups all over the country. Miss Eleanor Rathbone and her friends were inspired at the first meeting of the British Federation in Manchester to form, in 1908, the Liverpool Association of University Women.

Unfortunately, the first Minute book of the Liverpool Association (covering the period up to 1919) was lost many years ago and a later minute book (of c1929-1930) lost whereby the record of the Association's work is incomplete. However, Mrs Nan Mackean, a former Hon Secretary of the Association, who has taken a particular interest in the history of the Association, which she joined in 1958, in 1989 wrote of its history (in D799/5/1):

'The common experience of higher education formed a bond accross the barriers of class in Edwardian England and teachers, doctors and social workers as well as housewives and monied ladies of leisure, came together to work for better education and opportunities for women. In Liverpool, their first achievement was to campaign in 1908 to help Eleanor Rathbone win a seat on the City Council. Twenty years later, they suggested to her that she should stand as MP for the Northern Universities (graduates had two votes in those days). Family allowances, paid direct to the mothers, were the triumph of Eleanor Rathbone's parliamentary career.

LAUW members worked for other women in Liverpool - they raised money for beds in the new Women's Hospital, campaigned for women to serve in the Police Force, and battled bravely against the introduction of the marriage bar for university women staff, which meant that if women married, they were automatically dismissed from their posts and were unable to continue with their careers.

During the 1930s, and in wartime, LAUW members welcomed European women who were refugees fleeing from the Nazis, giving them hospitality while they waited for a passage to the USA, and providing them with clothes and pocket money for the journey.

In 1989, higher education is open to many more women. Our interests have widened. Not only do we have regular meetings with speakers, but we hold study groups, raise money to help girls from remote rural areas in East Africa, whose families could not afford to pay for their secondary education in the citieis without our help. We welcome overseas women studying in Liverpool to our meetings and ar epaired with the University women of Cologne and of Canberra and regularly correspond with them. We hope shortly to formalise our pairing with the University Women of New Orleans.'

For further information about the history of the BFUW, see Carol Dyhouse, No distinction of sex? Women in British universities 1870-1939, UCL Press, London, 1995 and her article, The British Federation of University Women and the Status of Women and the Status of Women in Universities 1907-1939 in Women's History Review, vol. 4, no. 4, 1995, pp. 465-485

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to bona fide researchers

Acquisition Information

Mrs Jenny Stanistreet, Principal Libraries Services Officer North, Metropolitain Borough of Sefton, Southport on behalf of the Liverpool Association of Graduate Women; 15 Nov 1999

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the reading room

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and Licensing rules available on request

Custodial History

Over a period of time, on behalf of the Association's Committee, Mrs Jenny Stanistreet, Principal Libraries Services Officer North, Metropolitain Borough of Sefton, Southport collected together the surviving minute books and also received from former Association officers their own papers (dating from the 1990s)

Related Material

The older records of the British Federation of Women Graduates (including the minute books of the Executive Committee 1909-1971 and of the AGMs 1909-1978) have been deposited at the Frewen Library, University of Portsmouth. Though Liverpool is not referred to in the list of the records, it may be presumed that reference is made to the Liverpool Association amongst, for instance, the two large parcels of 'early records of local associations pre 1920', annual reports and branch reports