Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Collection includes: Annual Reports 1926, 1927, 1929, 1935, 1938, 1940, 1952. Leaflet about the Society, 1953. Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women Aims and Objectives: 'The Society is concerned with all schemes promoted under the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, as they affect women and children. Advice is given to women who desire to settle overseas, and assistance to ensure their welfare while travelling and welcome on arrival' (from 1926 Annual Report). 'The Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women was constituted in 1920, incorporating three former emigration societies - the British Women's Emigration Association, the South African Colonisation Society and the Colonial Intelligence League' (from 1953 leaflet)

Administrative / Biographical History

The Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women (SOSBW) (1919-1962) was established as a direct response to the economic and social position of British women after the end of the First World War. Many women who had been trained for jobs vacated by enlisted men found themselves unemployed after 1918 and in financial hardship. Emigration to parts of the Empire was regarded as a solution to this problem. At this point, the British Government established its Overseas Settlement Committee to deal with general emigration, but when dealing with women emigrants, it was decided the its Overseas Settlement Committee would work through the existing voluntary body, the Joint Council of Women's Emigration Societies (1917-1919). The Joint Council comprised the Colonial Intelligence League, the British Women's Emigration Association and the South African Colonisation Society. In Dec 1919, aiming to respond to the governments needs more closely, the three amalgamated to form the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women. On the new council were representatives from the Girls' Friendly Society, the World's Young Women's Christian Association (YMCA), the ex-Servicewomen's Association and the Women's Labour Organisation, the Women's Catholic Emigration Society, the National Federation of General Workers, the Joint Committee of the Industrial Women's Organisation, the National Amalgamated Society of Women Workers, the Ministry of Labour and the Overseas Settlement Committee. The new organisation advised the Overseas Settlement Committee on government policy regarding emigrating women, as well as assessing an individual's suitability for emigration and overseeing the passage, safety and employment of those chosen. With the increase of emigration in the 1920s, the organisation grew, creating a junior branch in Jul 1925. It additionally organised tours for schoolgirls of Canada (1928 and 1936) and Australia (1934). These tours ceased upon the outbreak of World War Two when the Council assisted the evacuation of children. The new Companies Act of 1948 led to a reorganisation and in 1949 the new advisory council, comprised of representatives from: the Ministry of Labour and National service, the Women's Land Services, the Women's Land Army, the Headmistresses' Association, the British Council and the Standing Joint Committee of Working Women's Organisations, also representatives of voluntary societies such as the Family Welfare Association, Girls' Friendly Society, Girl Guides Association, the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), the Mother's Union, the National Association of Girls' Clubs and Mixed Clubs, the National Council of Social Service, the Victoria League and the National Council of Women. Its remit expanded to include helping women who wished to spend only short periods abroad and assisting with arrangements before and after the voyage. With this in mind, the society was renamed the Women's Migration & Overseas Appointments Society in 1962. However, withdrawal of funding by the Treasury resulted in the end of the society in 1964. (Administrative History courtesy of The Women's Library)

Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers by appointment, at the discretion of the TUC Librarian.

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the TUC at an unknown date.

Other Finding Aids

A card index is available in the library.

Archivist's Note

Description by Catherine Burke, Genesis Project Officer 2002. Submitted to the Archives Hub in 2008 as part of the Genesis 2008 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying is permitted within the terms of copyright legislation, although copying of some items including fragile material is at the discretion of the librarian.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the following records in Strand 1: 1BWE British Women's Emigration Association; 1CIL Colonial Intelligence League; 1FME Female Middle Class Emigration Society; 1SAX South African Colonisation Society; 1SOS Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women; Also of relevance at The Women's Library are: 4TAS Travellers Aid Society; 5GFS Girls Friendly Society; The Imperial Colonist 'Official Organ of the SOSBW', TWL Printed Collections class number 325.24109171241 (amalgamated with the 'Oversea Settler' from Apr 1927); Oversea Settler 1927-1930, TWL Printed Collections class number 325.24109171241