Papers of Dorothy Greaves (Museum Warden at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum)

Scope and Content

Research papers of Dorothy Greaves. Many of the papers consist of Dorothy's notes and copies of original documents acquired in her research into the Rochdale Pioneers and their relatives. There is also correspondence relating to her research. The collection also consists of papers relating to other areas of the co-operative movement.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy was a Warden at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum for a period during the 1980s and later from 1994 until her health failed, and spent much of her spare time over the years researching the 28 Men of Rochdale. She developed a knowledge of her boys as individuals, and as people, not just as historical names and visitors to the Museum loved her descriptions of their characters as well as their lives. Dorothy traced the families of the Pioneers to the present day, sometimes contacting people to ask if they knew that they were descendents.

Her research on the Pioneers included a survey of their graves, including finding those that had been lost for generations – once even uncovering a gravestone that had become grassed over. This research was vital to work done by Co-operative Funeralcare in renovating the graves in time for the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Rochdale Pioneers in 1994.

Following her move to Rochdale in 1975 with her husband Freddy and daughters Lesley and Christine, Dorothy became involved in a range of community activities, including being Chairman and Secretary of the Civic Society, member of the Rochdale Music Society, the Community Arts Committee, the Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery, the Culture Committee and, since their inception in 1990, organiser of the Heritage Weekends that have become a special feature in Rochdale in early September, negotiating the opening of buildings not normally open to the public.

Dorothy’s service to the communities of the Rochdale Borough was recognised not only by her being awarded Rochdale Woman of the Year in 1997, but also in 2009 being presented with a certificate of appreciation and a crystal vase at a reception in her honour at Rochdale Town Hall. She told a journalist from the Rochdale Observer at the time If you’re interested in something you do something about it. She was a Blue Badge Guide, qualified to guide groups around all of the towns of Greater Manchester and made full use of her encyclopaedic knowledge of the heritage of the region.

One of Dorothy’s lasting legacies is the generations of Rochdale school children who enjoyed their visits to the Museum, remembering years later both the story of the Pioneers and the fun and enthusiasm with which it was portrayed. Dorothy’s work with the Museum brought her into contact with co-operators from all over the world, and tens of thousands over the years felt the inspiration of her tours of the Museum.

Access Information

All open materials can be viewed by prior arrangement, Monday- Friday, 10 am- 5pm. Contact the Archivist at: National Co-operative Archive, Co-operative College, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS. Email: Website:

Acquisition Information

Deposited at the National Co-operative Archive in 2011 by the Niece of Dorothy Greaves. Accession no. Arc/2011/04.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Adam Shaw, Archivist, 2013-2014.