Women's Co-operative Guild

Scope and Content

Papers of the Women's Co-operative Guild, including: Annual reports of the Women's Co-operative Guild (incomplete), 1889-1988; Minutes of the National Executive Committee of the Women's Co-operative Guild, with minutes of Joint meetings with Sectional Secretaries and of Sectional Secretary meetings, 1969-1979; Circulars, programmes and resolutions from Annual Congresses of the Women's Co-operative Guild, along with texts of presidential addresses and other Congress-related ephemera, 1904-1989; Miscellaneous Women's Co-operative Guild papers, including circulars from Margaret Llewelyn-Davies and others, papers relating to Guild properties, Llewelyn Davies' publications on maternal welfare and the Committee of Inquiry into Domestic Service, along with material regarding A.Honora Enfield, Victoria House Printing Company Limited and the Guild's `People Who Care' campaign, 1910-1988; Minute books, financial accounts, correspondence, petty cash, bank and postage books regarding the Women's Co-operative Guild's Mrs Ben Jones Convalescent Fund, 1908-1984; Typescript papers, `Hints for Speakers', produced centrally by the Women's Co-operative Guild for external Guild speakers on a variety of social, political and economic topics, 1910-1955; Papers, ephemera and correspondence regarding the Women's Co-operative Guild's centenary and related celebratory events, including organisational correspondence of General Secretary, Kathleen Kempton, papers regarding the Centenary Congress at Worthing, proposed pageant and other national and local events, 1980-1983; Minute books, member's attendance and contributions and financial records compiled by 117 branches of the Women's Co-operative Guild, primarily in the London, Surrey and Kent area, along with various national branches, 1892-1988; Miscellaneous items regarding the Women's Co-operative Guild, including certificates, copper printing blocks and framed photograph, 1909-1934.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Co-operative Women's Guild was formed in 1883 following the first inclusion of a women's page in Co-operative News. Its aim was to spread the knowledge of the benefits of co-operation and improve the conditions of women with the slogan "co-operation in poor neighbourhoods". In 1885 the organisation changed its name to the Women's Co-operative Guild. In 1889 Miss Margaret Llewelyn Davies became General Secretary on a voluntary basis and Miss Lilian Harris was appointed Cashier to the Guild. Under the direction of these two women the organisation expanded rapidly from 51 branches and a membership of 1700 in 1889 to a peak of 1500 branches and a membership of 72000 in 1933. By this time the name of the organisation had again been changed to the Co-operative Women's Guild.


The collection is arranged into 9 sections:

  • WCG/1: Annual Reports
  • WCG/2: National Executive Committee and Other Minutes
  • WCG/3: Congress Material and Circulars
  • WCG/4: Miscellaneous Manuscripts
  • WCG/5: Mrs Ben Jones Convalescent Fund
  • WCG/6: Hints for Speakers
  • WCG/7: Co-operative Women's Guild Centenary
  • WCG/8: Branch Records
  • WCG/9: Miscellaneous Items

Access Information

Open; some closed items.

Acquisition Information

Possibly deposited at the Bishopsgate Institute with the records of the London Co-operative Society in the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

Adlib catalogue; hard copy 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.

Related Material

The Bishopsgate Institute also holds printed collections relating to the Women's Co-operative Guild, including books and pamphlets. Further material relating to the Women's Co-operative Guild is held at the following repositories:

  • Archives Division, London School of Economics: 11 volumes covering activities connected with the Guild, propaganda work, photographs, correspondence, material relating to the 'Sheffield Enquiry', promotion of 'people's stores', speeches and leaflets, 1890-1938.
  • National Co-operative Archive: miscellaneous pamphlets relating to Guild activity.
  • University of Hull, Brynmor Jones Library: records of the Guild, 1886-1970, c980 items