Records of the Royal College of Midwives Headquarters

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

This collection comprises legal records, correspondence, reports, financial accounts, scrapbooks, photographs and printed material (1878-2008), relating to the founding, and development as well as the work undertaken by the departments at the headquarters of the Royal College of Midwives:

  • RCM/E1 - Founding the Royal College of Midwives (1889-1902)
  • RCM/E2 - Legal and Constitutional Records (1878-1985)
  • RCM/E3 - General Secretary's Department (1914-2000)
  • RCM/E4 - Education Department (1906-1999)
  • RCM/E5 - Communications Department (1904-2005)
  • RCM/E6 - Professional Affairs Department (1989-1995)
  • RCM/E7 - College Library and Archive (1900-2008)
  • RCM/E8 - Finance Department (1894-1992)
  • RCM/E9 - Building and Facilities Department (1965-1993)

Administrative / Biographical History

During the early years of the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute), meetings were held at either the houses of founding members, Louisa Hubbard and Zepherina Veitch, or at the offices of the women's journal. 'Work and Leisure' at 42 Somerset Street in London.

In 1886 rooms were acquired at 22 Berners Street and then 15 Buckingham Street in order to facilitate a series of lectures for certified midwives and trained nurses organised by Rosalind Paget. The headquarters then moved across the road to 12 Buckingham Street in 1890, where a small room was rented daily from 2pm, and a larger one for meetings on Friday evenings. From 1891 these rooms were taken on full time, with one becoming an office and the other a member's room. The addition of a lecture theatre, tea room, small committee room and smoking room around 1894, contributed to the Midwives Institute, as it was then known, becoming both a meeting place and a centre of information.

It was proposed in the spring of 1933 that the National Birthday Trust Fund, the Queen's Institute for District Nursing and the Midwives Institute should be housed together. This was welcomed by members as it was increasingly apparent that the rooms at Buckingham Street were now inadequate for the organisations purposes. The new building at 57 Lower Belgrave Street, which consisted of offices, a library, meeting room and five bedrooms for the use of members visiting London, was subsequently opened in October.

On the outbreak of the Second World War the organisation operated from the home of the General Secretary, Florence R. Mitchell, at 20 Selwood Road, Croydon, until the offices were able to reopen in London after the worst of the Blitz in January 1940.

By 1953 the number of permanent staff at the Royal College of Midwives had increased from five to fifteen. As a result the office space at 57 Lower Belgrave Street was becoming very cramped. Moreover the College required more room to accommodate its growing training programme. A special appeal was set up to raise the funds necessary, which were realised in 1955. A site was found at 15 Mansfield Street, on the corner of New Cavendish Street and the architect, W. J. Biggs of Messrs E. & A. Stone, Toms & Partners was appointed. On 24 May 1954 the foundation stone was laid by the Queen Mother. The new building providing administrative offices on the ground floor, a council room and smaller committee rooms, a lecture theatre, a special classroom for students preparing for the Midwives' Teachers Diploma, the library, a members’ room and a basement canteen, was ready for occupation in April 1957.

The head office of the Royal College of Midwives, with a workforce of around 50, remains behind the blue door of 15 Mansfield Street, and comprises the General Secretary's, Employments Relations, Membership Services, Learning Research Practice Development, Policy Unit, Marketing, Finance, Human resources, Communications and Finance Departments.


The original order of material is retained, although where this is not possible the arrangement of files has been based on the functions and activities of the organisation as well as chronology, subject and the needs of users.

Conditions Governing Access

Permission is required for external access to records less than twenty years old. Also restrictions apply if material includes personal information of living individuals. All other records are open to research by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. For further information about accessing the collection and visiting the reading room, please contact:

Acquisition Information

There is no record of the source or date of acquisition before this material was deposited under the terms of a collection care agreement at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in May 2011.


Catalogued by Clare Sexton, Project Archivist in accordance with ISAD(G).

Other Finding Aids

Further details of the contents of this collection are available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright belongs to the Royal College of Midwives. To reproduce this material, please apply via the College Archivist:

Custodial History

This collection was previously held at the Royal College of Midwives.