GANLEY, Caroline Selina (1879-1966)

Scope and Content

Papers of Caroline Selena Ganley (1879-1966), including; typescript autobiography of Caroline Selena Ganley, c1955; miscellaneous papers concerning the career and work of Caroline Selena Ganley, including desk diary and miscellaneous papers and correspondence, 1916-1966.

Administrative / Biographical History

Caroline Selena Ganley was born in September 1879 at East Stonehouse, Plymouth, the daughter of James Blumfield and his wife, Selina Mary (ne Norgrove). Her father was a bombardier at the time of her birth, and later a tailor. She attended Plymouth church and national schools, and Ottershaw School, Chertsey. In July 1901 she married James William Henry Ganley, a tailor's cutter; the couple lived in Westminster before settling in Battersea, and raised two sons and a daughter.

Mrs Ganley became active in left-wing politics in opposition to the Second South African War, and in response to the poor social conditions of the working-class communities in which she lived. She joined the Social Democratic Federation in 1906, campaigned for the suffrage, and was instrumental in setting up a socialist women's circle in Battersea and developing it into a branch of the Women's Labour League (later the Labour Party women's sections). In 1914 she was involved in the British committee of the International Congress, anti-war suffragists who detached themselves from the more patriotic National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies to work with European women for peace. After the war, she continued to campaign for citizenship rights. She joined the Co-operative and Labour parties, and in November 1919 won a seat on Battersea borough council; she chaired the health committee, and it was mainly through her efforts that a well-equipped maternity home was opened in Battersea in 1921. In 1920 she became one of the first women magistrates in London, and for twenty years sat in juvenile courts. She also served as a London county councillor and as a member of the London county education committee. In the 1930s Mrs Ganley sought nomination as a Co-operative Party candidate. In 1935 she stood unsuccessfully for Paddington North but in 1945 she was elected Co-operative-Labour MP for Battersea South. In 1950 she held the seat but in the 1951 general election she was defeated. Mrs Ganley was appointed CBE in 1953, and in the same year was re-elected to Battersea borough council where she continued to serve until 1965.

Ganley was also widely active within the co-operative movement and was an elected director of the West London Society from 1918, and after its merger with the London Society in 1921, of the London Co-operative Society, which position she retained until 1946. In 1942 she became the first woman president of the London Co-operative Society. She also belonged to the Lavender Hill branch of the Women's Co-operative Guild and held a number of official positions in the Guild's national committee structure including a place on the south-eastern sectional council. In June 1943 she was honoured by the Guild as one of the speakers at its diamond jubilee demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall.

Mrs Ganley died in London at the Bolingbroke Hospital, Battersea, in August 1966, aged eighty-six.


The collection is divided into two sections:

  • GANLEY/1: Autobiography
  • GANLEY/2: Other Papers

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Possibly deposited with the archives of the London Co-operative Society during the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist available; ADLIB catalogue

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Stefan Dickers. Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Conditions Governing Use

Documents cannot be photocopied at present. Digital photography (without flash) is permitted for research purposes on completion of the Library's Copyright Declaration form and with respect to current UK copyright law.