Records of the Maternity Alliance

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 5MAL
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      36 A boxes, 4 OS objects

Scope and Content

The archive consists of the organisation's archives and Maternity Alliance publications. It includes Annual Reports and Accounts, the papers for the Annual General Meetings, the Minutes of the Executive and Management Committees and the papers of the working parties and subcommittees that reported to them, a complete set of the MA monthly newsletter, MA publications (including reports, fact-sheets, training notes, booklets and books), Directors' working papers (Christine Gowdridge), press cuttings, posters, a MA clock, an award.

The records reflect the organisation's work in:

* Education (this includes educating employers and individuals of what was existing legal provision for maternity, but also education related to campaigning to reduce inequality in maternity provision, including lobbying government and trade unions for key changes in maternity provision);

* Research into and support for specific groups (ethnic minorities; travellers; teenagers; asylum seekers; disabled etc);

* Publications: Creating publications to support the above work;

* Training: Creating published training resources and providing training sessions for those who worked with target communities (i.e. those who worked with parents on rights and benefits such as the DSS; Social workers; Advice groups and charities);

* Policy and Project Work (such as a Teenage Pregnancy Project which included a resource and training pack);

* Advisory Services (through the web site; through key publications; and through the Advice Line);

* Conferences (particularly research based courses to highlight specific campaigns).

Abbreviations referred to in the archive:

DWG Disability Working Group

F&GP Finance and General Purposes Committee

LWG Legal Working Group

MA Maternity Alliance

MC Management Committee

EC Executive Committee

MECWG Minority Ethnic Community Working Group

TUWP Trades Union Working Party

The arrangement of the archive is as follows:

A Executive Minutes and Papers

B Sub Committee Minutes and Papers

C Directors Records

D Project Records

E Press and Publicity

F Maternity Alliance Training and Resource Material

G Publications

H Objects

Administrative / Biographical History

Maternity Alliance (1980-2005) was a national charity working to improve rights and services for pregnant women, new parents and their families, created in 1980 through the support of three organisations (National Council for One-Parent Families, The Spastics Society and Child Poverty Action Group) and individual campaigners, all concerned with issues surrounding poverty, pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. The Maternity Alliance was established as an alliance of organisations and individuals in response to inequalities in treatment outcomes and the need for support for pregnant women and families on low income. The focus of the organisation's work shifted over time to take into account social, medical and economic changes, in particular the perceived increase in the number of women who combined pregnancy and parenthood with work. Initially the organisation operated as a collective - the staffing structure was 'flat' without a hierarchy and with all staff on the same pay scale - though this changed over time. The organisation's priority in 2004 was to support families who were disadvantaged - talking to mothers & fathers about their experiences, working to find solutions to their needs and raising awareness of how to improve services and support during pregnancy, birth and the first year of life. The Maternity Alliance was a non-party-political campaign group that was very vocal on behalf of groups that did not traditionally have a voice within the political and health provision arenas. As such, MA was seen as being 'edgy' and more radical than other bodies working on the issues around maternity. The organisation ceased operating in Dec 2005, due to a financial crisis.


The archive was identified and boxed in one afternoon, by one archivist and one librarian went to the MA offices. The visit was during the week that the offices were to be cleared as part of the insolvency process. As a 'rescued' archive there will be gaps in the material selected, and there will be inconsistencies in what was selected. The 'Library' (consisting of books and pamphlets arranged in subject order on shelves) was checked for MA publications. As near to a complete set of publications as possible was identified. The Directors' files were then boxed up (this consisted of 2 drawers of hanging files in a filing cabinet). It was clear that the minutes needed to be identified and a filing cupboard of 5 shelves of box files was located. The box files (or decanted files) were placed into the Transfer boxes - an attempt was made to keep committees together, but there was not time to place folders in order. A quick survey of the rest of the office then took place and some project files were identified.

Working material not selected included: staff files (including holidays salaries etc); financial files (invoices, petty cash; ledger files; bank statements; cheque books); funding (inc individual funders files; rejection letters); reference and research; Legal (inc legal reference publications; Equal Opportunities publications); Advice Line (inc individual details of calls; logs of volunteers working hours); Duplicate MA publications.

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

Deposited by Nancy Platt Director and Rebecca Gill, Trustee, on behalf of the Trustees of the Maternity Alliance, upon the dissolution of the organisation in Dec 2005.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue


Some additional minutes, and financial reports for the period c.1999-2005 may be deposited in the future. [COT Trustee Minutes Jul 2004- oct 2005 retained by the organisation].

Also records of projects that were being taken over by other groups including: 'Glass Ceiling' and 'Access' 2 conferences;

Also: 'Advice for Black Ethnic and Migrant Women Maternity Care' a project aimed at supporting health workers who provided support for women in these communities who did not have good English language skills (rather than providing leaflets to be handed out by mid wives and other helath professionals, research by MA indicated that the women who needed help wanted to talk to someone. The project was to provide 'story boards' that would illustrate information that needed to be given to the women, that would help with issues over language difficulties). This project was possibly being taken over by the Department of Health.

Related Material

The Women's Library Printed Collections include a significant deposit from the Maternity Alliance Library [7 transfer boxes of non-MA publications were donated by MA to TWL from the MA Library in Dec 2005. The publications came from a variety of sources and were all based on the subject of maternity provision for marginalised women. Many of the publications were created by charities or lobbying groups. Most of the material was small pamphlets, booklets or leaflets rather than books. Some of the MA Library duplicated that of the TWL printed collections and was therefore not selected. The deposit represented a significant gap in TWL Printed Collections as at 2005 of maternity provision for marginalised women]. In addition, The Women's Library Printed Collections hold a number of publications by Maternity Alliance, including their newsletter.

The Women's Library Museum Collection includes TWL.2004.707 Maternity Emergency National Rally badge.