TUCKWELL, Gertrude (1861-1951)

Scope and Content

Papers of Gertrude Tuckwell, mainly relating to her period with the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL), c.1890-1921. The papers comprise correspondence and notes as well as a substantial press cuttings collection, pamphlets and reports. The collection was systematically assembled by Tuckwell, to illuminate key issues and events in women's struggle for equality and representation. Major legislative initiatives are covered, as are social issues and the activities of political parties. The subjects cover the whole range of contemporary issues relating to women's political and employment rights, including anti-sweating campaigns, trade union organisation, health and safety in factories and workshops, Labour Party and Co-operative Movement activities, suffrage campaigns, and issues relating to women at work during World War One. In addition to this main set of papers, there is a typescript of "Reminiscences", her unpublished autobiography, and files of correspondence, articles and personal papers, 1907-1951.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gertrude Tuckwell was born in Oxford in 1861, and educated at home by her father, a master at New College School, before training to be a teacher. She went to London in 1885 to start her career but became secretary to Emily Dilke (1840-1904), her aunt, wife of Sir Charles Dilke, and a writer, suffragette and trade unionist. Through this association Gertrude Tuckwell became interested in politics, becoming an early member of the Labour Party, and active as a trade union organiser and campaigner for women's rights. In 1891 she became involved with the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL), working as its secretary and editor of its journal, the Women's Trade Union Review before becoming president of the League in 1905. In 1908 she also became president of the National Federation of Women Workers (NFWW) which had been founded in 1906 through the WTUL. She remained active in both organisations until 1918 when she announced her retirement and withdrew effectively from January 1921 when the WTUL merged its work with that of the Trades Union Congress. Tuckwell was one of the first women to be a Justice of the Peace and in 1926 served on the Royal Commission on National Health Insurance. Tuckwell also became involved in the struggle for protective legislation in the international arena and joined the executive committee of the International Association for Labour Legislation in 1906. She also maintained the Christian Socialist tradition of her family and from 1898 was secretary of the Christian Social Union Research Committee. A life-long philanthropist, Gertrude Tuckwell died in 1951. Publications: The State and its Children (1894).


The papers had been arranged by subject and stored in folders marked with a general descriptive heading and number. This arrangement has been retained although some large items which were being damaged by folding have been removed and stored flat

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Part of the archive is thought to have been deposited with the TUC Library in 1921, but other files were deposited in the late 1950s after her death.

Other Finding Aids

A list is available in the TUC Library, dated 1998.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm in the TUC Library and various libraries in the USA.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Janet Foster as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project, based on a description by Amanda Mason who listed the papers in 1998. Used with the kind permission of the AIM25 project. Amended by Genesis Project Manager, April 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

TUC Library holds papers and publications of the Women's Trade Union League. British Library, Department of Special Collections holds correspondence and papers relating to life of Sir Charles Dilke, 1907-1946 (Ref: Add MSS 43967, 49612) and 24 letters from Mark Pattison, 1879-1883 (Ref: Add MS 44886). The index to the Tuckwell collection is available online at http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/Demo_Shado/library/g94532_3.pdf (or in Word from http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/Demo_Shado/library/x60186_24.doc


J Bellamy and J Saville (eds) Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vol. VI (1982) pp.253-259; J Morris 'The Gertrude Tuckwell Collection', History Workshop Journal, no. 5 Spring 1978, describes the research value of the papers.