Records of the Council of Women Civil Servants

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes of the Council of Women Civil Servants (CWCS) Executive Committee (1920-1959), Standing Joint Committee of Women in the Civil service (1920-1924), Committee of Representatives (1932-1952) and Equal Opportunity Sub Committee (1951,1955-6); Annual General Meetings papers (1923-1958); annual reports (1940-54); subject and correspondence files (1925-1957), publications (1935-1958); membership documents; circular letters of the British Federation of Business & Professional Women (1948-1955); Administrative papers including Parliamentary reports, memoranda and Whitley Council papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Council of Women Civil Servants (1920-1958) was founded in 1920, after a major reorganisation of the Civil Service took place. Grades that had been structured around each department were now merged across the entire service to form four basic bands. Additionally, efforts to introduce arbitration and militated for what would become Whitley Councils for the negotiation of pay and conditions had taken place in which most of the women's civil service trades unions had been involved. However, despite the statement of the Sex Disqualification Act of 1920 that 'women should have equal opportunity with men in all branches of the Civil Service and Local Authorities', the report presented by the official Joint Reorganisation Committee maintained there should be a separate selection process for women which did not involve the traditional examination, lower wages for women working in the same grades as men and the bar against married women should remain. In this situation, the Council of Women Civil Servants was established in 1920. Their purpose was, unlike other female trades unions, to represent all women in the administrative, professional and executive grades of the Civil Service and achieve equality of opportunity for them throughout the sector. In the 1920s and 1930s they were closely involved with the campaign for equal pay and consequently had close links with the London and National Society for Women's Service. In the early thirties they were responsible for a number of public rallies and meetings on the issue as well as presenting evidence to the Royal Commission on the Civil Service in 1929-1931. In addition, they took part in action to open the diplomatic service to women candidates and supported the introduction of family allowances. After the Second World War they continued their activities around equal pay and the marriage bar and affiliated to the British Federation of Business & Professional Women. The group was dissolved in Dec 1958 after equal pay and conditions were put in place throughout the Civil service. The organisations assets were passed to the Fawcett Society.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research, uncatalogued material remains unavailable. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue (partial).

Custodial History

Upon dissolution in 1958 the organisation's assets were passed to the Fawcett Society. The records subsequently became part of the Fawcett Library collections. See folder 6CCS/3/04 for further details.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the records of the London and National Society for Women's Service (2LSW) and the British Federation of Business & Professional Women (6BFB).