Workers' Educational Association (WEA): York Branch

Scope and Content

Records relating to the operations of the Workers' Educational Association including minute books, log books, annual reports, history of the association and published works.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Workers Educational Association or WEA was established in 1903, and there was branch in York from at least 1912. From 1912 to c.1920 the WEA held meetings and classes at the St Mary's Educational Settlement. However, during the interwar years the relationship between the two institutions was an uneasy one. The WEA was suspicious of the Educational Settlement due to it's financial reliance on the Rowntree family, which it believed prevented the settlement from running on genuinely democratic lines. The Settlement was also considered 'bourgeois', 'middle class' 'capitalist' and 'reactionary' by the WEA. In 1921, they began to hold meetings at the Co-operative Society Hall on Railway Street, although WEA classes continued to be held at the St Mary's Settlement.

The WEA was set up as an association of individuals and organizations interested in adult education. The York branch worked in co-operation with Leeds University, the Ministry of Education, and the local Education Authority. It also had a representative on the Council which governed the York Educational Settlement (est. 1909).

It's primary objective was to 'satisfy the demand of workers for education', which it achieved by providing classes in a variety of subjects and publishing literature. The only stipulation was that the classes were required to be of a non-vocational character. The defining characteristic of all the classes the WEA provided was an equal relationship between students and tutors. The students also had the opportunity to be involved in the organization and administration of adult education itself.

Conditions Governing Access

Material is available subject to the usual terms and conditions of access to Archives and Local History collections.

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Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Tester, Community Collections and Outreach Archivist, December 2014.

Conditions Governing Use

Images are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.