Museum Collection: Photograph Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 TWL.photograph
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      820 photographs (plus c.2,500 postcards identified in the archives)

Scope and Content

As at Jan 2009, The Women's Library held approximately 820 badges in the Museum Collection, with c.2,500 additional photographs identified in the archives.

A large proportion of The Women's Library Photograph Collection is comprised of portraits of famous women and significant individuals in women's campaigning. There is also a range of photographs of the birthplaces, burial places and funerals of prominent women.

The main strength of the collection is in the group of photographs that represent suffrage campaigning. The images represent a wide range of activities such as suffrage arrests, elections, petitions, demonstrations, processions and exhibitions.

The work undertaken by women on the Home and Western fronts is recorded in a number of photographs taken during the First and Second World Wars.

There is a limited, but growing, range of photographs that document post-suffrage women's campaigning such as feminist work during the 1970s and 1980s, in the form of arrests and demonstrations. There are images relating to a few of the many 20th century women's organisations and their activities, such as conferences and debates.

A small number of photographs grouped by subject illustrate women's everyday experiences in areas such as sport and education.

Although focussing on the United Kingdom, the international nature of campaigning means that a number of international women or places are represented in this collection.

The photographs are arranged in boxes by the following subjects:

* Portraits A-E (Photograph Box 01) [staff location code 133]

* Portraits F-M (Photograph Box 02) [staff location code 134]

* Portraits N-Z, Royal Family (Photograph Box 03) [staff location code 136]

* Group Portraits, Birth Places, Burial Places, Funerals, Sport, Medicine, Education, Fashion, The Arts, Household, Everyday (Photograph Box 04) [staff location code 137]

* Groups, organisations and societies: Scouts and Girl Guides, Women's Ordination, Women's Freedom League, Arab Women's Organisation, Commission for the Advancement of Women, Church League for Women's Suffrage, International Kitchen Club, Handicraft Women's Group, Thailand, Associated Women of the World, IIAV, Amsterdam, Equal Pay Campaign, International Women's Alliance, Nordic Institute for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Josephine Butler Society, St. Joan's Alliance, National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, London Society for Women's Suffrage, Nepal Women's Volunteer Service, Women's National Commission, Pensions Campaign (Photograph Box 05) [staff location code 138]

* Women's Campaigning, Suffrage and Post-Suffrage: Elections, Arrests, Petitions, Advertising, Caravan Tours, Celebrations, Demonstrations (including Processions, Strikes, Marches), Exhibitions, Fairs, Fetes, Festivals (Photograph Box 06) [staff location code 139]

* War (First World War & Second World War): Women and the Home Front First World War, The Land Army First World War, Women on the Western Front First World War, Other European Women during First World War, Women on the Home Front Second World War, The Land Army Second World War (Photograph Box 07) [staff location code 140]

* Debates, Conferences, Congress: Suffrage Convention, Buffalo 1909, Suffrage Conference Cairo 1934, International Committee, Rome 1948, Athens Conference 1958, World Congress of Women Moscow 24 Jun 1963, United Nations 1969-1987, Lambeth Conference 1978, 'Know How' Conference IIAV 22-26 Aug 1998 (Photograph Box 08) [staff location code 141]

* First World War (Photograph Box 09 - Oversize box) [staff location code 142]

* Suffrage, Portraits (Photograph Box 10 - Oversize box) [staff location code 143]

* Miscellaneous (Photograph Box 11 - Oversize box) [staff location code 144]

Administrative / Biographical History

A corporate history of The Women' Library, and of many of the creators of badges held in this collection, is available on The Women's Library archive and museum catalogue.


Arranged by subject, see above

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit. Objects from Photograph Collection may be requested for research in the Reading Room.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library online catalogue

Alternative Form Available

Images of some of these photographs can be seen in The Women's Library online catalogue. The Women's Library uses Mary Evans Picture Library (MEPL) to provide images from its collections, see

Related Material

The Women's Library holds almost 500 archives, the majority of which contain photographs. The archives focus on women's campaigning organisations and the personal archives of campaigners. The Women's Library Archives also contain photographs, often scattered throughout the records. Primarily these were photographs taken by individuals and organisations in the course of their lives and work, often celebrating particular events. Occasionally the photographs are portraits or publicity photographs - these photographs are more likely to have been taken by a professional photographer.

The subject matter is similar to that found in the Museum Photograph Collection.

The photographs located in the archives are not always catalogued as individual items, they are often catalogued as bundles or as albums. They are also often included as correspondence, or in diaries or reports and are not identified at item level in the catalogue.

Key archives that contain significant numbers of photographs include the following (dates given are the dates covered by the photographs):

* Records of the Association for Moral & Social Hygiene, 4.5 boxes of over 400 photographs individually catalogued - mainly portraits of international campaigners (reference 3AMS/G, dates c.1850-c.1946)

* Records of the International Alliance of Women 5 boxes of photographs relating to International Conferences and work projects (reference 2IAW/1/J, dates 1909-1989)

* Records of the St Joan's International Alliance 2 folders of photographs relating to international suffrage (reference 2SJA/K, dates c.1900-1978)

* Records of the National Federation of Women's Institutes, 50 folders of loose photographs relating to people (founders, international visitors, members), branches, Denman College, activities (crafts, music, drama, community work) etc. (reference 5FWI/I, dates c.1940-2000)· Records of Greenham Common Women (Yellow Gate) 1 box of photographs taken at Greenham Common, or at related events (reference 5GCW/J, dates c.1982-2002)

* Records of The Girls' Friendly Society over 100 folders of loose photographs relating to the GFS, its members, events, conferences, educational work, music and drama, clubs, buildings, overseas visits etc. (reference 5GFS/11, datesc.1920-1999)

* Papers of A Muriel Pierotti. This archive includes a variety of photographs on women's campaigning, especially equal pay campaigns in the 1950s. It also includes still photographs from the film 'To Be A Woman' written, produced, and directed by Jill Craigie. Outlook Film Productions. 70 photographs (reference 7AMP/C/6/2, dated 1949)

* Papers of Elsie Edith Bowerman. This archive includes photographs of the Scottish Women's Hospital expedition in Russia (Serbia) and of Bowerman's personal life (friends, holidays etc). 2 albums (c.200 objects) (reference 7ELB/A/7-8, dates 1913-1924)

* Papers of Emily Wilding Davison over 60 photographs related to militant suffrage activities (reference 7EWD/J, dates 1908-1914)

* Papers of H Pearl Adam (journalist) over 75 photographs interleaved in Adam's diaries. The photographs relate mainly to Adams' friends, holidays etc. (reference 7HPA, dates 1896-1956

* Papers of Kathleen D'Olier Courtney (internationalist and feminist) over 50 photographs. The photographs relate mainly to Courtney's family and friends, including portraits, and events (reference 7KDC, dates 1881-1973)

* Papers of Louisa Garrett Anderson (physician) 26 photographs. As well as portraits, these photographs relate to the early provision of women and children's hospitals; suffrage activities; and The Women's Hospital Corps medical activities in Paris and London during the First World War (reference 7LGA, dates 1875-1922 )

* Papers of Margery Irene Corbett Ashby (internationalist and feminist) 6 folders of photographs including portraits, family, friends and holidays. It also includes some photographs of First World War rehabilitation of soldiers in Lowestoft hospital and an International Alliance of Women conference in India; (reference 7MCA/D, dates 1907-1979)

* Papers of Teresa Billington Greig (suffragist) 31 photographs of suffragettes - mainly portraits (reference 7TBG/2/W, dates 1906-1958)

* Papers of Vera (Jack) Holme 6 albums of photographs relating to Holme's life: youth and friendships; women's suffrage movement; First World War and aid work in Serbia; Yugoslavia and foreign travel (reference 7VJH/5, dates 1900-1959)

A search using the 'object name' field and the word 'photograph' will bring up all postcards catalogued at item level in the museum and archive collections.

As from 2004 archive catalogues at The Women's Library try to identify individual postcards using the 'ObjectName' field. However users specifically interested in this format should also search for 'photograph*' in the any text field to discover additional reference to photograph/s across the collections.