Records of the Consultative Committee of Constitutional Women's Suffrage Societies

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of signed minutes and associated papers, including sub-committees and conferences. From 1918 it was known as the Consultative Committee of Women's Societies for Equal Citizenship.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Consultative Committee of Constitutional Women's Suffrage Societies (1916-1918) was established in Mar 1916 by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in response to the government proposed changes to the national electoral register, to take effect at the end of the First World War. Its first meeting was held on 5th May and on the committee were representatives of twenty societies, with three more joining the following year. The first Chair elected was Eleanor Rathbone, the honorary secretary was Dr Gwynne Vaughn (replaced by Miss Ayrton Gould in 1917), the treasurer was the Countess of Selborne and the secretary was Helen Wright. It was through the medium of this committee that the suffrage societies co-ordinated the constituent societies efforts and petitioned the government for the inclusion of women's suffrage in the franchise Reform Bill. The committee's efforts were initially unsuccessful: the government's Electoral Reform conference that took place in Oct 1916 to address the issue initially refused to allow the Consultative Committee to give evidence. However, when Asquith was deposed from the premiership in Dec 1916, they were able to present their arguments to the authorities. In particular, the Consultative Committee was able to organise a Joint Parliamentary Committee comprising an equal number of MPs and women's representatives, which was active during the passage of the bill and produced a report in Jun 1917. When the prospect of a positive outcome became clear, the Consultative Committee called a conference in Jan 1918 to consider the possibility of joint action by Women's Societies after the passing of the Electoral Bill in the fields of political, economic and social equality between the sexes. The constitution was changed to accommodate these changes and 1918 it became the Consultative Committee of Women's Societies Working for Equal Citizenship.

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

Fonds Description (1 folder only)

Custodial History

Unknown: the archive was listed c.1989, so the records must have been deposited prior to that date.

Related Material

Details of the foundation of the committee are to be found in the annual reports of the National Union of Woman's Suffrage Societies 1916-8; see 2NWS.