Records of The Working Association of Mothers (WAM)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 5WAM
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      1 A box and 1 OS box

Scope and Content

The archive consists of newspaper cuttings, promotional material, newsletters and correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Working Association of Mothers (WAM) was established by Diana Priestley in May 1969. This followed an award for Priestley's idea from the National Suggestions Centre, which featured the project in their magazine 'WHAT', attracting a startling amount of publicity from national and local media. Hundreds of mothers from all over the country responded to the experience of one young mother which led to the idea of a self-help co-operative which might provide solutions to the frustrations of mothers, isolated from extended family networks, wanting part-time work and suitable pre-school childcare. Diana Priestley was encouraged to attempt a model scheme in her own area. This resulted in a part-time employment agency; a pre-school play group with flexible and extended hours; school holiday play centres and use of school premises; and a research group exploring the lack of safe and creative playspace for children. A Woman's Hour programme featuring WAM led to 500 letters from women wanting to start such projects in their area.The emphasis was on the need for a balance of work and home life with children, but the part-time employment agency initiated did not succeed for long.

At a meeting of 10 WAM groups set up around the country, there was agreement that a national coordinating body would help individual groups to develop and exchange ideas. There was no funding for this and so further contact between groups was not sustained. The initial group continued social meetings for some years. By Dec 2009 one play group in Teddington still existed.


Original order retained.

Access Information


This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Diana Priestley (WAM founder) in Nov 2009

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library archives also hold Parents at Work (6PAW) and News Ways to Work (6NWW). The Women's Library Printed Collections hold numerous publications by these groups as well as publications around women and work class mark.