Records of the Chairman's Committee of the Royal College of Midwives

Scope and Content

This collection comprises minutes, correspondence and reports of the Chairman's Committee of the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) (1935-1937), relating to the efficiency and remuneration of the midwifery profession, as well as and amendments to the Midwives Act of 1936, also including references to changes to the constitution of the organisation, fundraising and arrangements for the annual meeting and dinner.

Administrative / Biographical History

The economic recession of the early thirties, which led to a mass unemployment was accompanied by a fall in birth rate and a surplus of midwives. It also meant that plans for a national maternity service were largely put on hold. In addition to this many local authorities were unable to pay the fees of domiciliary midwives in 'necessitous cases'.

As a result the Joint Council of Midwifery was formed by the National Birthday Trust Fund, under the chairmanship of Dr Watts Eden on 16 January 1934, in order to compile a report on 'the desirability of establishing a salaried service of midwives' for the consideration of the Ministry of Health.

The Royal College Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) was in favour of a salaried scheme, but insisted on the rights of independent midwives being upheld and adequate compensation being provided for those that might be harmed by the local authorities having more control over maternity services.

As a result, in 1935 the Chairman's Committee was established to evaluate the findings of this report, which in turn enabled the members elected as representatives on the Joint Council of Midwifery to contribute to the debate surrounding the efficiency and remuneration of the midwifery profession. Other organisations besides the Royal College of Midwives that were represented on the Joint Council, included the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Association of Inspectors of Midwives.

The meetings of the Chairman's Committee subsequently took place regularly and were attended by some of the most prominent members of the organisation, including Edith Pye, who was President of the College at this time, as well as Rosalind Paget and Mabel Liddiard.


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.