Papers of Julia Varley

Scope and Content

This is the only extant collection of Varley's papers and comprises letters from friends (including the Duke of York, Ernest Bevin and Ramsay Macdonald), manuscripts of poems, copies of articles by and about her, and many photographs (including of strikes, trade union delegations and conferences).

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1871, Varley began work at the age of thirteen as a sweeper in a Bradford woollen mill. A trade union organiser, her first experience of industrial conflict came during the Manningham Mills strike in 1890/91. In 1909 she became secretary to the Birmingham Women Workers' Organisation Committee and four years later joined the Workers' Union as women's organiser for the Midlands. She served on several Government-sponsored labour and trade union organisations during the First World War, and on the General Council of the Trades Union Congress from 1921 to 1951. In November 1936 she retired from her position as National Women's Officer of the Transport and General Workers' Union. She died in 1952.


U DJV/1 - 3 Correspondence, 1914 - 1953

U DJV/4 Invitations, 1921 - 1938

U DJV/5 - 15 Press cuttings and printed material, 1886 - 1974

U DJV/16 Articles, circa 1907 - 1930

U DJV/17 - 19 Poems, 1888 - 1912

U DJV/20 - 22 Photographs, 1907 - 1930s

U DJV/23 - 36 Miscellaneous, 1907 - 1977

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Women's studies subject guide

Custodial History

Deposited by Mrs MD Horwill, 'Wychbold', 103 Barnett Lane, Wordsley, Stourbridge, 3 Sep 1976


  • Entry in Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. V
  • David Doughan, ‘Varley, Julia (1871–1952)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 11 May 2006]
  • S Lewenhak, Women and trade unions: an outline history of women in the British trade union movement (1977)