Museum Collection: Poster Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

As at Jan 2009, The Women's Library held approximately 1050 posters in the Museum Collection, with c.100 posters identified in the archives.

The earliest posters held result from suffrage activities and can be divided into three main groups; advertisements for meetings and events, illustrated propaganda posters arguing why women should get the vote, and thirdly newspaper bills bearing suffrage related headlines, used to promote paper sales.

All other posters are arranged by subject and date from the 1970s to the present day. The collection represents a mixture of women's campaigning, campaigning by organisations to promote gender equality, and posters produced to advertise women-focused events and publications. There are a small number of posters that portray women's issues and campaign work internationally. The work of The Equal Opportunities Commission in England and Ireland is particularly well represented as a result of a large donation of their obsolete posters during the 1990s. Also well represented with almost 80 posters is the work of See Red Women's Workshop, a women's liberation screen-printing collective (1974-1984).

The posters are arranged in plan chests by the following subjects:

PC1/3 Women's health

PC1/4 Women's peace campaigning

PC1/5 Equal opportunities

PC1/6 International Women's Campaigning

PC1/7 Women's literature, journals and other publications

PC2/2 Careers for women

PC2/3 Equality in the workplace

PC2/4 Pregnancy, abortion, birth, child care

PC2/5 Women and violence

PC2/6 Women's organisations, opportunities and events

PC2/7 Women's theatre, music and performance

PC2/8 Exhibitions and women

PC3/1 Teenagers

PC3/2 Suffrage in the press

PC3/3 Suffrage campaigning

PC3/4 Suffrage meetings and events

PC3/5 Significant and famous women

PC3/6 Women and sexuality

PC3/7 Women and war

PC3/8 Modern women's campaigning

Administrative / Biographical History

A corporate history of The Women' Library, and of many of the creators of badges held in this collection, is available on The Women's Library archive and museum catalogue.

Arrangement

Arranged by subject, see above

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit. Posters require ordering in advance. If a reader wishes to view a substantial number of posters they may be asked to make an appointment with the curator. Readers are encouraged to use the surrogate images provided with the online catalogue instead.

Acquisition Information

Various

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library online catalogue

Alternative Form Available

Images of some of these posters can be seen in The Women's Library online catalogue. The Women's Library uses Mary Evans Picture Library (MEPL) to provide images from its collections, see www.maryevans.com.

Related Material

The Women's Library Archives also contain posters. Primarily these were postcards created by organisations for publicity purposes, although some posters were retained by individual feminists and campaigners.

Key archives include 2LSW (approx. 10 posters) Fawcett Society and its Predecessors; 3AMS Association for Moral & Social Hygiene (approx. 40 posters); 5FWI National Federation of Women's Institutes (approx. 30 posters); 5GFS Girls' Friendly Society (approx. 20 posters); 5MGB Miss Great Britain (approx. 10 posters); 7JAN Papers of Jayne and Juliet Nelson (19 posters) relating to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, UK and international peace movements.

A search using the 'object name' field and the word 'poster' will bring up all posters catalogued at item level in the museum and archive collections.

Posters are spread across the archives, often included in operational or subject files and are not identified at item level in the catalogue. As from 2004, archive catalogues at The Women's Library try to identify individual posters using the 'ObjectName' field. However users specifically interested in this format should also search for 'poster*' in the any text field to discover additional reference to poster/s across the collections.

Posters are also known to survive in the following uncatalogued archive collections: 5MAL, 5WCC, 7JMC, 7SHJ. [These are currently unavailable to researchers].

The Equal Opportunities Commission hold their own archives (London, Manchester, Wales, Glasgow) - each managing their own past records. Their archive of press coverage is held at their office in London. Their web site was archived as part of the British Library project in 2006.