Records of the Fawcett Society and its Predecessors

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 2LSW
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 2/LWS; 2/CCN; 2/CES; 2/CWS; 5FAW; 5/FAW
  • Dates of Creation
      1871-1967
  • Language of Material
      English , French
  • Physical Description
      274 A boxes & 24 OS boxes (Catalogued: 66.5 A boxes (includes 3 pt boxes) & 3 OS boxes)(Uncatalogued: the equivalent of 207.25 A boxes & 21 OS boxes)
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

The archive consists of CCNSWS Minutes: Executive and Finance Committee; annual reports,1871-1878, 1883-1888; correspondence; scrapbooks. CNSWS Minutes of the Executive Committee 11890-1892, 1894-1895; finance ledger 1896-1900. LSWS Minutes: executive committee 1903-1932, finance committee 1918-1939, employment committee 1919-1934, public works 1934-1944, appeals committee 1912-1918; annual reports 1911, 1914, 1935, 1936; reports of annual meeting and papers 1905-1915; committee papers 1906-1918; circular letters; resignation letters; legal documents; organisation committee files 1905-1913; correspondence; pamphlets; papers; constituency books; programmes; leaflets; handbills; posters; account book; collecting bag; badges. Junior Council of the LNSWS: executive committee minutes 1929-31, 1932-1937, 1939; various committee minutes 1928-1939; scrapbooks; annual reports; brochure; photographs. Fawcett Library committee minutes 1926-1940, 1951-1967; library reports 1940-1950; annual reports 1945-1967.

The catalogue descriptions sometimes use the term 'holograph', usually in relation to correspondence. This means 'in the author's own hand'.

The uncatalogued material includes minutes and campaigning material of constituent committees, reports, policy papers, correspondence and accounts papers 1930-c.1980, administration and other papers, including material related to the Women's Service Trust and about the establishment of The Fawcett Library

Administrative / Biographical History

The Women's Suffrage Petition Committee (1865-1866) was founded to support the work of John Stuart Mill. In 1865 John Stuart Mill who had avowed his belief in Women's Suffrage in his election address, was elected to parliament. Some of the leading figures in the Women's Suffrage movement asked him whether he would present a Petition to parliament on behalf of the movement. He agreed to do so if a reasonable number of signatures could be obtained. In Nov-Dec 1865 Madame Bodichon and Emily Davies enlisted the help of Miss Jessie Boucherett, Rosamund Hill and Elizabeth Garrett to form a small informal committee to promote the Petition. They met at the house of Elizabeth Garrett and became known as the 'Kensington Committee'. Madame Bodichon, Jessie Boucherett and Emily Davies drafted the Petition and during the first months of 1866 they obtained the support of many leading women who between them secured eventually 1,499 signatures to the Petition from all parts of the British Isles. The signatories included many prominent women who made subsequently a significant contribution to the Suffrage movement. On 7 Jun 1866 Mill presented the Petition to Parliament which was at that time considering the Reform Bill. As Madame Bodichon was ill, Miss Emily Davies accompanied by Miss Garrett took the Petition to the House of Commons. At the Oct Congress of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Sciences held at Manchester, Madame Bodichon read a paper 'On the Extension of the Suffrage to Women'. (Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Sciences, Manchester Congress 1866, 1867, p.794).

The Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee [London Branch] (1866-1867) was formed in 1866. Soon after the Congress at Manchester, The Women's Suffrage Petition Committee decided to transform the informal Petition Committee into a more formal organisation, and the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee was formed. The members of this London Committee were - Dean Alford (Canterbury), Miss Jessie Boucherett, Professor John Elliot Cairnes, the Rev. WL Clay, Miss Emily Davies, Lady Goldsmid, George Hastings, James Haywood, Mrs Hunt (Isa Craig), Miss Munning and Mrs Hensleigh Wedgwood. Mrs Peter Taylor was the Honorary Treasurer and at first Emily Davies acted as Honorary Secretary. Mrs JW Smith (a Garrett sister) soon acted as Secretary but she died in 1867 and Caroline Biggs, who was to edit the 'Englishwoman's Review' for nearly twenty years succeeded her. The Committee met at Mrs PA Taylor's home, Aubrey House, from which the petitions in 1867 were organised. ('Englishwoman's Review', 14 Sep 1889, p. 386 (Helen Blackburn's obituary for Miss Caroline Biggs). On 5 Jul 1867 the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee in London dissolved itself and reformed as the 'National Society for obtaining Political Rights for Women' (1867), but was re-named within a short time as the 'London National Society for Women's Suffrage'.

The National Society for Obtaining Political Rights for Women (1867) was formed on 5 Jul 1867 when the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee in London dissolved itself and reformed with this name. It was re-named again within a short time as the 'London National Society for Women's Suffrage'.

The London [National] Society for Women's Suffrage (1867-1871) was founded in 1867. On 5 Jul 1867 the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee in London dissolved itself and reformed as the 'National Society for obtaining Political Rights for Women' (1867), but was re-named within a short time as the 'London National Society for Women's Suffrage'. There is a tradition that Mill was responsible for the change of name. (The Executive Committee comprised:- Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Mrs Fawcett, Miss Hampson, Miss Lloyd, Mrs Lucas, Mrs Stansfeld and Mrs PA Taylor who acted as Treasurer. Mrs Smith the Honorary Secretary died soon after the Committee was formed and Caroline Biggs took over, Mrs Taylor having acted until Miss Biggs' appointment.) In 1871 there was an organisational split into two separate bodies: 1) The London National Society for Women's Suffrage (1871-1877); 2) The Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1871-1877). The former appears to have been subsumed into the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage in 1877.

The Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1871-1877) (CNSWS) was formed after Jacob Bright at the Nov 1871 annual general meeting of the Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage called for the creation of a central committee in London to co-ordinate the suffrage lobbying of MPs. Sure of solid support in the provinces, the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee called a General Meeting at the Langham Hotel on 17 Jan 1872 at which Jacob Bright presided. (Notice of the meeting on 17 Jan 1872 and its purpose appeared in the 'Women's Suffrage Journal', 1 Jan 1872, p.13. A full report of the meeting in the journal's issue 1 Feb 1872, pp.21-3. Another good report, substantially the same, appeared in 'Englishwoman's Review', Apr 1872, pp. 113 'et seq'. Both journals gave a list of the Committees who had placed themselves in connection with the Central Committee.) This meeting passed the following Resolutions:- '1. That this meeting approves the general course pursued by the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. 2. That an Executive Committee be constituted with all necessary powers for promoting the movement subject to the control of the Central Committee.' The Executive Committee was to consist of the following persons elected:- Professor Sheldon Amos, Mrs Amos, Mr R Arthur Arnold, Mrs Arthur Arnold, Mr Ashurst, Mr Edwin Arnold, Miss Caroline Biggs, Mrs Jabob Bright, Mr Percy Bunting, Mrs Chesson, Miss Courtenay, Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Miss Agnes Garrett, Miss Rhoda Garrett, Miss Katherine Hill, Mr Frederic Hill, Mr Henry Hoare, Mrs Duncan M'Laren, Mr W Malleson, Mrs W. Malleson, Mrs Frederick Pennington, Mr Edwin Pears, Mrs Pochin, Mrs Peter Rylands, Dr Humphrey Sandwith, Mrs James Stansfeld, Mrs Venturi, Miss Williams and the following ex-officio members:- 1) All members of Parliament who are members of the Central Committee. 2) Such delegates as the Committees in connection with the Central may appoint (both reports contain names of 13 already appointed by Committees). 3) All members of Executive Committees in connection with the Central Committee. About half of those elected were already playing a leading role in the Repeal Movement. The structure of the Executive Committee fulfilled the need for such a standing Central Committee representing all Suffrage Societies as Jacob Bright had advocated at the meeting in Manchester on the previous 8 Nov. It was the dismantling of this closely knit structure with was one of the main reasons for the Schism in 1888. The Central Committee took offices at 9 Berners Street, the premises of the Berners Club for Women, and in summer 1874 it moved to 294 Regent Street (Langham Place). During the first half of 1872 the Executive Committee pursued an intensive campaign of public meetings and lectures, issued several pamphlets and endeavoured to increase their support among M.P.s and the press. ('The Women's Suffrage Journal' and the 'Englishwoman's Review' gave very good coverage of the activities of the Central Committee, including details of provincial committees and their officers as these were either reorganised or newly established in affiliation with the Central Committee.) Meanwhile the three temporary Honorary Secretaries had the services of a paid Secretary, Miss Emma A. Smith who was later retained on a permanent basis. The first Annual Meeting was held on 17 Jul 1872. (For accounts of the meeting, see 'Women's Suffrage Journal' 1 Aug 1872, pp.108-110 and 'Englishwoman's Review' Oct 1872, pp. 271 'et seq'. As the Editors of these journals, Miss Becker and Miss Biggs, were in the inner councils of the Committee, both journals gave extensive coverage of meetings, Petitions and provincial committees throughout the United Kingdom as these were established. The 'Women's Suffrage Journal' is particularly important for details of Committee membership and officers, in all issues.) To this meeting the Executive Committee presented its 'First Report', which contained a brief account of the events leading to the formation of the Central Committee. As the three Honorary Secretaries had intimated at the Executive meeting held on 12 Jun that they did not wish to continue beyond the Annual Meeting, Miss Caroline Biggs and Miss Agnes Garrett were appointed Honorary Secretaries for the time being. Miss Smith was appointed then on a permanent basis and Mr Henry Hoare was re-elected as Honorary Treasurer. Mrs Fawcett had remained with the London National but she later became exasperated with dissensions in the Society and joined the Central Committee. In 1877 the two London Societies (Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage; 1871-1877 and the London National Society for Women's Suffrage) merged to become the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1877-1888) and Lydia Becker became the parliamentary agent.

The London National Society For Women's Suffrage (LNSWS) (1871-1877) continued after the split in the London Society for Women's Suffrage (1867-1871) at the end of 1871, as a smaller Society. It mainly represented London as the larger and influential provincial societies had affiliated to the Central Committee. John Mill remained as its President, but he died on 8 Apr 1873. (Coverage of the London Society was small in the two Suffrage journals although all important meetings were well reported.) Outside London the Society arranged a few public meetings in those areas which had remained connected with it and the membership followed the established pattern of raising Petitions in their areas and supported the current leader of the Bill in the Commons. The London National Society For Women's Suffrage (1871-1877) appears to have been subsumed into the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage in 1877.

The Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1871-1877) (CNSWS) was formed after Jacob Bright at the Nov 1871 annual general meeting of the Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage called for the creation of a central committee in London to co-ordinate the suffrage lobbying of MPs. Sure of solid support in the provinces, the Women's Suffrage Provisional Committee called a General Meeting at the Langham Hotel on 17 Jan 1872 at which Jacob Bright presided. (Notice of the meeting on 17 Jan 1872 and its purpose appeared in the 'Women's Suffrage Journal', 1 Jan 1872, p.13. A full report of the meeting in the journal's issue 1 Feb 1872, pp.21-3. Another good report, substantially the same, appeared in 'Englishwoman's Review', Apr 1872, pp. 113 'et seq'. Both journals gave a list of the Committees who had placed themselves in connection with the Central Committee.) This meeting passed the following Resolutions:- '1. That this meeting approves the general course pursued by the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. 2. That an Executive Committee be constituted with all necessary powers for promoting the movement subject to the control of the Central Committee.' The Executive Committee was to consist of the following persons elected:- Professor Sheldon Amos, Mrs Amos, Mr R Arthur Arnold, Mrs Arthur Arnold, Mr Ashurst, Mr Edwin Arnold, Miss Caroline Biggs, Mrs Jabob Bright, Mr Percy Bunting, Mrs Chesson, Miss Courtenay, Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Miss Agnes Garrett, Miss Rhoda Garrett, Miss Katherine Hill, Mr Frederic Hill, Mr Henry Hoare, Mrs Duncan M'Laren, Mr W Malleson, Mrs W. Malleson, Mrs Frederick Pennington, Mr Edwin Pears, Mrs Pochin, Mrs Peter Rylands, Dr Humphrey Sandwith, Mrs James Stansfeld, Mrs Venturi, Miss Williams and the following ex-officio members:- 1) All members of Parliament who are members of the Central Committee. 2) Such delegates as the Committees in connection with the Central may appoint (both reports contain names of 13 already appointed by Committees). 3) All members of Executive Committees in connection with the Central Committee. About half of those elected were already playing a leading role in the Repeal Movement. The structure of the Executive Committee fulfilled the need for such a standing Central Committee representing all Suffrage Societies as Jacob Bright had advocated at the meeting in Manchester on the previous 8 Nov. It was the dismantling of this closely knit structure with was one of the main reasons for the Schism in 1888. The Central Committee took offices at 9 Berners Street, the premises of the Berners Club for Women, and in summer 1874 it moved to 294 Regent Street (Langham Place). During the first half of 1872 the Executive Committee pursued an intensive campaign of public meetings and lectures, issued several pamphlets and endeavoured to increase their support among M.P.s and the press. ('The Women's Suffrage Journal' and the 'Englishwoman's Review' gave very good coverage of the activities of the Central Committee, including details of provincial committees and their officers as these were either reorganised or newly established in affiliation with the Central Committee.) Meanwhile the three temporary Honorary Secretaries had the services of a paid Secretary, Miss Emma A. Smith who was later retained on a permanent basis. The first Annual Meeting was held on 17 Jul 1872. (For accounts of the meeting, see 'Women's Suffrage Journal' 1 Aug 1872, pp.108-110 and 'Englishwoman's Review' Oct 1872, pp. 271 'et seq'. As the Editors of these journals, Miss Becker and Miss Biggs, were in the inner councils of the Committee, both journals gave extensive coverage of meetings, Petitions and provincial committees throughout the United Kingdom as these were established. The 'Women's Suffrage Journal' is particularly important for details of Committee membership and officers, in all issues.) To this meeting the Executive Committee presented its 'First Report', which contained a brief account of the events leading to the formation of the Central Committee. As the three Honorary Secretaries had intimated at the Executive meeting held on 12 Jun that they did not wish to continue beyond the Annual Meeting, Miss Caroline Biggs and Miss Agnes Garrett were appointed Honorary Secretaries for the time being. Miss Smith was appointed then on a permanent basis and Mr Henry Hoare was re-elected as Honorary Treasurer. Mrs Fawcett had remained with the London National but she later became exasperated with dissensions in the Society and joined the Central Committee. In 1877 the two London Societies (Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage; 1871-1877 and the London National Society for Women's Suffrage) merged to become the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1877-1888) and Lydia Becker became the parliamentary agent.

The Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (CCNSWS) (1888-1897) was formed in 1888 when the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (CNSWS) (1871-1877) split into two factions over the issue of political affiliation, i.e. whether suffrage was a cross party issue. This group retained the name 'Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1888-1897)' the other became the 'Central National Society for Women's Suffrage' (1888-1897). The Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1888-1897) was also known in this period as the 'Great College Street Society'. The committee included Mrs Fawcett, Miss Becker, Miss Courtnay, Helen Blackburn, Mrs Haslem and Frederic Hill amongst others. In Oct 1896 after a conference in Birmingham of all the suffrage societies, it was agreed that the country should be divided into regions. Thus the name changed in Sep 1897 to the 'Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage' (1897-1900).

The Central National Society for Women's Suffrage (CNSWS) (1888-1897) was formed in 1888. In 1888 the Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1871-1877) split into two factions over the issue of political affiliation, i.e. whether suffrage was a cross party issue. This group became the 'Central National Society for Women's Suffrage' (1888-1897); the other group retained the name 'Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage (1888-1897)'. This group, which had party affiliation, had largely placed its faith in the Liberal Party to achieve Women's Suffrage. It was also known as 'The Parliament Street Society' (although it later moved premises to Victoria Street). In 1889 the Central National Society for Women's Suffrage lost members to the 'Women's Franchise League (1889-1897)' as would not expressly include married women in the aims of being eligible to vote. Members of the Central National Society included the McLaren family,Anna Maria Priestman, Mary Bateson and Jane Cobden. Between 1888-1896 the Central National Society was most active in the west country. In Oct 1896 after a conference in Birmingham of all the suffrage societies, it was agreed that the country should be divided into regions. Thus the name changed in 1897 to the Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage' when their activities in the West of England were 'officially' recognised.

The Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) was formed in Oct 1896 after a conference in Birmingham of all the suffrage societies, it was agreed that the country should be divided into regions. Thus the name changed in Sep 1897 from the 'Central Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage' (1888-1897) to the 'Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage'. In 1900 the Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) merged with the Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) to become the 'Central Society for Women's Suffrage' (1900-1907).

The Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) was formed in Oct 1896 after a conference in Birmingham of all the suffrage societies, it was agreed that the country should be divided into regions. Thus the name changed in 1897 from 'Central National Society for Women's Suffrage' (1888-1897) to the Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage' when the West of England was added to its sphere of activity. In 1900 the Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) merged with the Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) to become the 'Central Society for Women's Suffrage' (1900-1907).

The Central Society for Women's Suffrage (1900-1907) was formed in 1900 from a merger between the Central & Western Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900) and the Central & East of England Society for Women's Suffrage (1897-1900). In 1907 the Central Society for Women's Suffrage (1900-1907) became the London Society for Women's Suffrage (1907-1919).

The London Society for Women's Suffrage (1907-1919) was established in 1907 out of the Central Society for Women's Suffrage (1900-1907). 'The Women's Service Department': At the outbreak of the First World War, the London Society suspended its political work and placed its offices, its large staff of trained organisers and its branch organisation at the service of the nation. It opened the Women's Service Department whose work during the first months was to provide information to enquirers as to openings for voluntary work and supplied during that period over 1500 voluntary workers for countless organisations including major societies such as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association the Invalid Children Aid Association, the Women's Patrols, the Belgian Committee and Soldiers' Canteens. It also opened 6 emergency workrooms for women thrown out of work, 9 clubs for soldiers' and sailors' wives and families, 2 clubs for girls, 7 hostels for Belgian Refugees, 3 centres for infant consultations and 2 clothing depots. The society's branches supported and worked with Mayor's Committees in many metropolitan boroughs. The Society also made a major contribution to the work of the Scottish Women's Hospitals, raised London Units and supplied special ambulances. 'Training Women For War Work': By mid 1915, the need for voluntary work diminished but there was a growing demand for trained women to replacement who had joined the armed forces as well as women for the increasing number of new jobs created by the expansion of production of war weapons and materials to meet the needs of the war effort. The Society's Service Department co-operated in the compilation of the Board of Trade's War Register for Women and also set about providing all kinds of technical training for women for entry to factories. Classes were established for such important work as acetylene welding, tracers for mechanical drawings and micrometer and vernier viewing. As the war progressed and the Society was able to raise quite considerable sums of money through appeals and fund raising activities, this work expanded greatly. 'The Women's Employment Department': Having made a major contribution to the training and placing of women in war work, as the war was drawing to a close the Society, with its very experienced organisation, turned its attention and resources to planning to meet the problems that women would face in seeking employment in the post-war period. Having briefly turned its attention, to political activity over the electoral bill which gave women a limited franchise in 1918, the Society re-thought its post-war policy and decided that apart from the battle to secure the franchise for women on the same terms as men, the 1918 Act enabled it to concentrate now more on obtaining equal rights and in this field employment was the major field for its activities. The Society therefore replaced the Women's Services Department by an Employment Department with an Employment Committee, organised with seven Sections. One of these was a Women's Services Section, the other six being Industrial, Political, Training, Publicity, Professional, Commercial and Civil Service Sections. These changes were made early in 1919 and a Resolution of the Executive Committee, 5 Mar 1919, gave effect to a Report of an ad hoc Committee on Advisors, by setting up a Council of Advisers which would consist of representatives of the seven existing Sections. The Executive Committee was empowered to call in representatives of any section for advice when discussing matters concerning subjects dealt with by that Section. A Report of a Sub-Committee on Public meeting, 9 Apr 1919, recommended the Employment Committee to sponsor a public meeting to be held in the last week in May in the Queen's Hall, to publicise the new policy and organisation. Women's Service Leaflet No.2, Apr 1919, was prepared, headed 'The Open Door' to serve the same purpose. The Employment Committee's staff carried out an extensive and intensive survey of occupations that might be suitable for women, interviewing a large and wide range of firms. A Bureau was established to which employers could notify vacancies which the Bureau's staff then tried to fill from those women who contacted them in their search for employment. Eventually, as the work expanded, this activity was taken over by a new organisation that was established by the co-operation of many women's organisations, namely the Women's Employment Federation. In 1919 the name changed to the London Society for Women's Service (1919-1926).

The London Society for Women's Service (1919-1926) was created in 1919 through the renaming of the London Society for Women's Suffrage (1907-1919). The name change reflected the shift in emphasis of the Society's Objects, due to the Act giving women the franchise and also to the fact that the Society had added to its Objects a broader service to women as a result of its contribution to the prosecution of the 1914-1918 war. The London Society for Women's Suffrage had acquired a deep knowledge and experience of the broader aspects of the social and economic needs of women during its intensive contribution to the war effort, through its Women's Service Department. Once the limited franchise had been granted, the leaders and many members of the Society felt that in the post war years, while the Society should continue to work for the granting of the franchise to women on the same terms as men, there was a great deal of work which could be done to secure equal citizenship for women. It was therefore proposed that the aims of the Society should be broadened and that the name of the Society should also be changed to reflect this change of emphasis.

The discussions in the Executive Committee resulted finally in the passing of the following resolutions at the General Meeting held 24 Feb 1919: 1) 'That the Society continue to stand for equal suffrage and equal opportunities for women, but resolve to concentrate its efforts for the present on obtaining economic equality for women.'; 2) 'That the Society resolve to promote this object by means of propaganda, political work, the collection and distribution of information with regard to employment, the promotion of training, opening up of occupations, and such other practical steps as may from time to time seem advisable.'('The Common Cause', vol xi, No. 524, 25 Apr 1919, p.17. The Executive and Annual Meeting Minutes and papers for the transition period are missing, and therefore it is necessary to rely upon the report in 'Common Cause'.). It was also decided to change the title of the Society to 'The London Society for Women's Service'. In a letter that was sent out to all members announcing these changes, the following was added - 'The Committee believe that the struggle to secure equality of opportunity for men and women in the wage-earning work is the next great step towards the full enfranchisement of women; they believe moreover that the forces which threaten the economic position of women to-day are of a most serious and menacing nature and that action is immediately needed to the protection of women workers.' 'They are convinced that a non-party of men and women who are united in principle and experience in practice will be able to give immediate support to the demobilised women, and that by building up public opinion and focussing political action on this group of subjects, they can best serve the cause for which the London Society for Women's Suffrage was originally called into being.' (The Common Cause, vol xi, No. 524, 25 Apr 1919, p.17. The Executive and Annual Meeting Minutes and papers for the transition period are missing, and therefore it is necessary to rely upon the report in 'Common Cause'.)

Two weeks later, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies changed their constitution and title for the same reasons. The change of Object of the Union now allowed any societies having the equality of men and women as one of their objects to affiliate to the Union. This changed the relationship between the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship and the London Society as the latter's Annual Report presented at the Society's Annual Meeting on 16 Dec 1919 explained - 'That decision (i.e. by NUWSS) has fundamentally altered the relation of the Society to the Union of which it has been so ardent a promoter and supporter. Until last year, the London Society for Women's Suffrage Societies (sic) was the representative of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in the Metropolitan area. Now the London Society for Women's Service is but one of several London Societies affiliated to the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, each carrying out a different part of the Union's programme. This new relationship, which is no less harmonious than the old, results in a different form of co-operation and is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that the National Union may now properly hold meetings in London without reference to the London Society, while the London Society may carry on its work in co-operation with any other Society sympathetic to is special aspects of equality, without reference to the National Union.' (ibid., No. 560, 2 Jan 1919, p.503.) The report also referred to the rather pressing financial problems of the Society and after referring to the great work of the London Unit of the Scottish Women's Hospitals, hinted that it may have to close down that activity in the near future. The President, Miss Philippa Fawcett, in commenting on this problem, appealed for donations as well as subscriptions to enable the Society to carry out fully its aims. In 1926 the society was renamed the London & National Society for Women's Service.

The London & National Society for Women's Service (1926-1953) was created in 1926 and was the renamed London Society for Women's Service (1919-1926). The name change reflected the shift in becoming the national body campaigning for women in employment. In 1953 it was renamed The Fawcett Society.

The Fawcett Society (1953-fl.2008) was created in 1953, out of a series of predecessor bodies dating back to 1865 and the campaigns for women's suffrage. Best known as 'London National Society for Women's Suffrage' later the 'London Society for Women's Service' the organisation went through many name changes between 1865 and 1953 when it became known as The Fawcett Society. The name changed in 1953 from London & National Society for Women's Service (1926-1953) to The Fawcett Society in honour of Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the leader of the constitutional campaign for women's suffrage, and the president of several of the Fawcett Society's predecessor bodies. The Fawcett Society became the United Kingdom's leading campaign for equality between women and men, at work, at home and in public life. They campaigned on on women's representation in politics and public life; pay, pensions and poverty; valuing caring work; and the treatment of women in the justice system. They raised the profile of these issues by creating awareness, leading debate, lobbying politicians and policy makers, and driving change. They influenced developments such as: a change in the law to allow political parties to use all-women shortlists to increase the number of women MPs; the reform of the rape law; and a new duty on public bodies to promote equality between women and men. As at 2008 the Fawcett Society was still active.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929) was born in Suffolk in 1847, the daughter of Newson and Louisa Garrett and the sister of Samuel Garrett, Agnes Garrett, Louise Smith and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. The sisters' early interest in the issue of women's suffrage and commitment to the Liberal party were heightened after attending a speech given in London by John Stuart Mill in Jul 1865. Though considered too young to sign the petition in favour of votes for women, which was presented to the House of Commons in 1866, Millicent attended the debate on the issue in May 1867. This occurred a month after she married the professor of political economy and radical Liberal MP for Brighton, Henry Fawcett. Throughout their marriage, the future cabinet minister supported his wife's activities while she acted as his secretary due to his blindness. Their only child, Philippa Fawcett, was born the following year and that same month Millicent Garrett Fawcett published her first article, on the education of women. In Jul 1867, Millicent Garrett Fawcett was asked to join the executive committee of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage and was one of the speakers at its first public meeting two years later. She continued her work with the London National Society until after the death of John Stuart Mill in 1874, when she left the organisation to work with the Central Committee for Women's Suffrage. This was a step which she had avoided taking when the latter was formed in 1871 due to its public identification with the campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts. Fawcett, despite her support for the movement's actions, had initially believed that the suffrage movement might be damaged by identification with such controversial work. However, the two groups later merged in 1877 as the new Central Committee for Women's Suffrage and a new executive committee was formed which included Fawcett herself. Her influence helped guide the group towards support for moderate policies and methods. She did little public speaking during this period but after the death of her husband in 1884 and a subsequent period of depression, she was persuaded to become a touring speaker once more in 1886 and began to devote her time to the work of the women's suffrage movement. In addition to women's suffrage Millicent Garrett Fawcett also became involved in the newly created National Vigilance Association, established in 1885, alongside campaigners such as J Stansfeld MP, Mr WT Stead, Mrs Mitchell, and Josephine Butler. In 1894 Fawcett's interest in public morality led her to vigorously campaign against the candidature of Henry Cust as Conservative MP for North Manchester. Cust, who had been known to have had several affairs, had seduced a young woman. Despite marrying Cust's marriage in 1893, after pressure from Balfour, Fawcett felt Cust was unfit for public office. Fawcett's campaign persisted until Cust's resignation in 1895, with some suffrage supporters concerned by Fawcett's doggedness in what they felt was a divisive campaign. In the late nineteenth century, the women's suffrage movement was closely identified with the Liberal Party through its traditional support for their work and the affiliation of many workers such as Fawcett herself. However, the party was, at this time, split over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland. Fawcett herself left the party to become a Liberal Unionist and helped lead the Women's Liberal Unionist Association. When it was proposed that the Central Committee's constitution should be changed to allow political organisations, and principally the Women's Liberal Federation, to affiliate, Fawcett opposed this and became the Honorary Treasurer when the majority of members left to form the Central National Society for Women's Suffrage. However, in 1893 she became one of the leading members of the Special Appeal Committee that was formed to repair the divisions in the movement. On the 19 Oct 1896 she was asked to preside over the joint meetings of the suffrage societies, which resulted in the geographical division of the country and the formation of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. She was appointed as the honorary secretary of the Central and Eastern Society that year and became a member of the parliamentary committee of the NUWSS itself. It was not until the parent group's reorganisation in 1907 that she was elected president of the National Union, a position that she would retain until 1919. By 1901, she was already eminent enough to be one of the first women appointed to sit on a Commission of Inquiry into the concentration camps created for Boer civilians by the British during the Boer War. Despite this, her work for suffrage never slackened and she was one of the leaders of the Mud March held in Feb 1907 as well as of the NUWSS procession from Embankment to the Albert Hall in Jun 1908. She became one of the Fighting Fund Committee in 1912 and managed the aftermath of the introduction of the policy, in particular during the North West Durham by-election in 1914, when other members opposed a step that effectively meant supporting the Labour Party when an anti-suffrage Liberal candidate was standing in a constituency. When the First World War broke out in Aug 1914, Fawcett called for the suspension of the NUWSS' political work and a change in activities to facilitate war work. This stance led to divisions in the organisation. The majority of its officers and ten of the executive committee resigned when she vetoed their attendance of a Women's Peace Congress in the Hague in 1915. However, she retained her position in the group. During the war, she also found time to become involved in the issue of women's social, political and educational status in India, an area in which she had become interested through her husband and retained after the conflict came to an end. She remained at the head of the NUWSS when the women's suffrage clause was added to the Representation of the People Act in 1918 and attended the Women's Peace Conference in Paris before lobbying the governments assembled there for the Peace Conference in 1919. She retired in Mar 1919 when the NUWSS became the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship but remained on its executive committee. She also continued her activities as the vice-president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, to which she had been elected in 1902, for another year. After this she became the Chair of the journal, the 'Women's Leader', and appointed a Dame of the British Empire in 1925. It was in that year that she resigned from both NUSEC and the newspaper's board after opposing the organisation's policy in support of family allowances. She remained active until the end of her life, undertaking a trip to the Far East with her sister Agnes only a short time before her death in 1929.

Arrangement

The records run on frequently from volume to volume and correspondence file to correspondence file irrespective of changes of corporate name, see CreatorName for a list of the predecessor bodies. The records have been listed continuously by record series irrespective of the name of the Society at a particular date.

Also note: The arrangement given by the hierarchical numbering system was given as a temporary measure in converting paper copy catalogues c.2003. This arrangement will be altered when the significant uncatalogued accruals is catalogued. The references in A2A were assigned incorrectly and do not apply. Therefore researchers should quote from the 'AltRef' field the box and item number, e.g. FL374.9.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research, uncatalogued material remains unavailable. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue (partial). Uncatalogued (survey lists for 1995/04 and 2002/39 are available to staff).

Alternative Form Available

The Women's Library uses Mary Evans Picture Library (MEPL) to provide images from its collections, see www.maryevans.com.

For a copy of the attached image please contact MEPL, quoting the MEPL image reference 10009633 [Original is held at The Women's Library TWL.1998.60]. The image is of Elizabeth Garrett and Emily Davis presenting the 1866 Women's Suffrage petition to Sir John Stuart Mill in the lobby of the Palace of Westminster, painted by Berta Newcombe.

Custodial History

The London & National Society for Women's Service (1926-1953) established the Women's Service Library in 1926 (the predecessor of The Women's Library'. The records of the parent organisation, together with those of its predecessor and successor bodies, became part of the foundation collections of the Library.

Some records of predecessor organisations, known to have been in the Library since the 1930s, are thought to have been deposited via the National Union of Townswomen's Guilds, successor organisation to the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.

Accruals

The Fawcett Society continues to deposit material, adding to this archive.

Related Material

Related papers at The Women's Library include: The Papers of Millicent Fawcett (7MGF) and the Papers of Phillippa Strachey (7PHS).

Bound copies of the Annual Reports can be found in the Printed Collections of The Women's Library at 324.623060421 (Cavendish Bentinck) and for 1919-1951 at 941.006.

The Wimbledon Society Museum of Local History holds minutes and proceedings (1911-1916, with press cutting and programmes, for the Wimbledon Branch of the London Society for Women's Suffrage.