Women's Labour League

Scope and Content

The Women's Labour League correspondence consists of letters addressed to the Secretary of the Women's Labour League for the period 1906-8. They have been arranged in date order. Much of the correspondence concerns the establishment of provincial branches. Other items include notices of meetings, balance sheets, receipt books and conference arrangements.

The Women's Labour League minutes and financial records include the Treasurer's expenditure book for 1917-1918; lists of subscribers 1911-1917; branch notes from 1910; signed minutes of the Executive from Sept. 1908; Central London Branch of the Women's Labour League, signed minutes 1906-1918.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Women's Labour League was formed in 1906 as an institution organized exclusively for and by women, and affiliated to the Labour Party. The League was committed to the cause of Universal Labour representation in Parliament. Provincial branches of the Women's Labour League were established across the country. The first League conference was held in Leicester in 1906. At this conference branches represented were central London, Bow and Bromley, Leicester, Hull and Preston; over one hundred women attended including Isabella Ford.

In 1918, after the vote was given to propertied women over the age of 30 and the new Labour Party constitution was written, the League was dissolved and its members formed the women's section of the Labour Party.

Margaret MacDonald (wife of Ramsay MacDonald), Mary Middleton (wife of James Middleton, Labour Party Secretary) and Dr Marion Phillips were leading figures in the Women's Labour League.


Letters and minutes have been arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Access by appointment.

Acquisition Information

The Women's Labour League correspondence (deposited by Lucy Middleton) and Women's Labour League minute books, reports and financial records, from the Labour Party library, were brought together as a single archival unit in January 1973 by T.W.M. Jaine.


Collection level description created for the Archives Hub by Janette Martin.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is listed to file level and is available by clicking WLL (Searchable File Level Catalogue) above. A paper handlist is available in the search room also.

Alternative Form Available

The Archive of the Woman's Labour League has been published as a microfiche by Harvester Press, 1985, 247 fiches.

Conditions Governing Use

Standard reprography conditions apply and are available on request from the archive.

Custodial History

The Labour League correspondence and related papers were given to the Labour Party Library by Mrs Lucy Middleton, widow of J.S. Middleton, former Secretary of the Labour Party. The correspondence remained with J.S. Middleton because the Secretary of the League was his first wife, Mrs Mary Middleton. Mary Middleton became secretary in 1907, succeeding Mrs Mary MacPherson, and continued to be associated with the League until her death in 1911.

The Women's Labour League minute books, financial papers and Central London Branch records were found in the Labour Party library and are of unknown provenance.

In 1990 The Labour Party deposited its archive at the People's History Museum (formerly National Museum of Labour History) in Manchester. The collection is now held at the Labour History Archives and Study Centre, which is based at the head office of the People's History Museum.


Accruals are not expected.

Related Material

Mary Middleton and Margaret MacDonald Memorial Baby Clinic (ref. LP/BAB)


The collection was used extensively by Christine Collette in her book, For Labour and for women: The Women's Labour League, 1906-1918 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1989).