National Federation of Women Workers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Collection includes: The position of women after the war: report of the Standing Joint Committee, 1916; A comparison between the rates under certain trade boards for women, 1921; Women in the trade union movement, 1955; The Woman Worker - Journal 1907-1921; agenda of biennial conference; annual reports.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Federation of Women Workers (NFWW) was formed in 1906 by Mary Macarthur. The Federation had close links with the Women's Trade Union League, with Gertrude Tuckwell serving as president of both organisations from 1908. The NFWW saw strikes as the chief means of unionising unorganised workers and probably did more than any other organisation (including trade unions) to unionise women especially during the mass strike wave of 1910-1914. The Federation was entirely unself-seeking, in that its efforts were purely for the benefit of the unions rather than its own prestige. Although its membership had risen to 20, 000 by 1914, its leaders never intended that the NFWW should remain permanently as a women's union. In fact in 1921 it quietly merged with the National Union of General Workers (now the GMB). The Federation, along with many of the other women's organisations, campaigned to expose the evils of the sweated trades. Their propaganda was very effective and played a major part in inducing the Liberal government to pass the 1909 Trade Boards Act which was an attempt to fix minimum wages in certain of the most exploitative trades, usually the ones in which women predominated. (this administrative history was written by Professor Mary Davis, Centre for Trade Union Studies, London Metropolitan University c.2008)

Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers by appointment, at the discretion of the TUC Librarian.

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the TUC at an unknown date.

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note

Description by Catherine Burke, Genesis Project Officer c.2002. Submitted to the Archives Hub in 2008 as part of the Genesis 2008 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying is permitted within the terms of copyright legislation, although copying of some items including fragile material is at the discretion of the librarian.

Related Material

Also held at the TUC Library are the papers of Dorothy Elliott, an organisor for the Federation, and Gertrude Tuckwell who in 1908 was elected President of the Federation.