Records of the Colonial Intelligence League

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 1CIL
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 A boxes

Scope and Content

The archive consists of Minutes of the Council (Jun 1912-Jun 1919) and the executive committees (Feb 1910-Mar 1911, Apr 1911-Oct 1913, Oct 1913- Jun 1919) and for the finance and settlement (Nov 1913-Jul 195, Nov 1915-Dec 1919), County Organisation (Mar 1912-Jul 1914) and literature (Nov 1913-Jul 1915) subcommittees; Reference volume of abstracts on Canada; volume of Annual reports (1910-1919).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Colonial Intelligence League (1910-1919) was founded on the 23 Feb 1910 as the Committee of Colonial Intelligence for Educated Women, partly to deal with the perceived problem of 'surplus' women and partly to colonise South Africa with British citizens after the Boer War. Its aim was to investigate demand for services and personnel in diverse areas and provide relevant information for those women wishing to undertake careers abroad as domestic staff, teachers or clerical workers. The League was to work alongside other organisations such as the British Women's Emigration Association and the South African Colonisation Society that provided the machinery of emigration and its committee included members drawn from their ranks, as well as representatives of the Central Bureau of Employment for Women. However, in 1911 it became closely associated with the Headmistresses' Association. On the 2 Mar 1911 of that year, it was decided to dissolve, the League and re-establish the body under the name of the Colonial Intelligence League with an executive committee that was half constituted by members of the association. Branches were established in Edinburgh and Glasgow and local secretaries were also appointed in the provinces. In Dec 1915, finance, literature and county organisation subcommittees were established. The activities of the league were concentrated on emigration to Canada until 1914 and a farm settlement was established in the Okanagan Valley as a training centre - 'The Princess Patricia Ranch'. Prominent officers of Colonial Intelligence League included the Hon. Mrs Norman Grosvenor and Mrs John Buchan. Emigration dwindled during the First World War and in 1917 it was decided to form a federation with the British Women's Emigration Association and the South African Colonisation Society to be named the Joint Council of Women's Emigration Societies. This was to be a central body which co-ordinated women's emigration after the war and liase with the government. Full merger of the Colonial Intelligence League with the two other organisations did not occur until 1919, after government pressure was applied to centralise funding of the schemes and widen the scope of their activities. The amalgamation resulted in the creation of the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women.

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit

Acquisition Information

All the records in Strand 1 were offered to The Fawcett Library by the Women's Migration & Overseas Appointments Society when it was being wound up in 1964. Miss Vera Douie, Librarian of The Fawcett Library, appraised the records, selecting minute books, annual reports and a number of old journals. The few files selected for retention were concerned with the Companies Acts and the Society's overseas

properties. The Commonwealth Relations Office arranged for HM Stationery Office to dispose of confidential files. Other files not deemed of historical significance were destroyed through the same agency.

The records came to The Fawcett Library in Dec 1964 and were catalogued in Apr 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

Associated material: Researchers may find it useful to consult Margaret Barrow Women 1870-1928: A Select Guide to Printed and Archival Sources in the United Kingdom (London: Mansell, 1981)


Articles referring to the 'Colonial Intelligence League' include the following: 'What Should They Know of England Who Only England Know?' Ideas of Englishness, Empire and Organized Women's Emigration, 1902-1927. Oxendale, Stephanie Michelle. Dissertation 2000.‘The other half?’: Sources on British female emigration at the Fawcett Library, with special reference to Australia . Paula Hamilton Janice Gothard'When letters still were written', Margaret Sweet Women’s Studies International Forum, Volume 10, Issue 3, 1987, Pages 275-280'A new class of Women for the colonies: The imperial colonist and the construction of empire' Lisa Chilton The Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, Volume 31, Number 2 (May 2003)'Imagining Home': women graduate teachers abroad 1880-1930' Kay Morris Matthews History of Education, Volume 32, Number 5 (September 2003).'Anything in skirts stands a chance: Marketing the Canadian North-West to British women, 1880-1914' Maureen Hupfer. Journal of Macromarketing. Boulder: Spring 1998. Vol. 18, Iss. 1; p. 41 (9 pages).