Records of the Royal College of Midwives Council

Scope and Content

This collection comprises, minutes, reports and correspondence of general, advisory, special and annual meetings of the Council of the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) (1890-1949).

The early minute books within this collection also contain the minutes of following committees: the Executive Council and Club Committee (1894-1902), Midwives Bill and Guarantee Fund Committee (1896-1899) and the Sectional Committee (Midwives) (1900-1921).

Administrative / Biographical History

The first general meeting of the Council of the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) took place in 1890. Before this, meetings had been conducted on a much more informal basis, and were usually held in the drawing room of one or another of the founding members.

This change was primarily brought about by the incorporation of the College under the Company's Act in 1889. At the same time the purposes of the organisation were more clearly defined as: 1) to raise the efficiency and improve the status of midwives by petitioning parliament for their recognition, 2) to establish a register of members, 3) to provide a library and a club room for members and 4) to arrange courses of lectures and afford opportunities for discussion on issues concerning the midwifery profession.

The Council became a representative body that met quarterly in January, April, July and October, while special meetings (sometimes referred to as the advisory board) were called when required in order to formulate policy and to make executive decisions regarding the work of the College. In addition to this it was involved in arranging for the representation of midwives on all appropriate external committees.

From 1902, the Council was also responsible for appointing one medical practitioner and two midwives as representatives on the Central Midwives Board, the statutory authority constituted by the first Midwives Act, as well as being the governing body of all midwives in England and Wales.

The Royal College of Midwives now has an elected Board of practising midwives, which is responsible for settings the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring it is viable, properly managed and governed. It also acts to support the RCM senior management in their running of the headquarters of the College.


The original order of the 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.

Access Information

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.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The bindings of some of the early minute books within this collection are fragile and should be handled with care.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Custodial History

The collection was previously held by the Royal College of Midwives.