Papers of Betty Heathfield

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7BEH
  • Dates of Creation
      1962-1986
  • Language of Material
      English
  • Physical Description
      2.5 A boxes (1.5 A box catalogued; 1 A box uncatalogued)
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

The archive consists of transcripts of interviews with members of the Women Against Pit Closures group collected by Betty Heathfield, relating to their involvement in the 1984-1985 miners’ strike. It includes a draft of an unpublished book by Betty Heathfield about the strike entitled 'Women of the Coalfields' based on these oral history interviews. This portion of the collection is available in the form of transcripts that have been anonymised to protect the identity of the interviewees.

The archive also consists of transcripts of oral history interviews, collected by Betty Heathfield, with older members of the Women’s Co-operative Guild (WCG) and working papers and drafts on the history of the Guild; papers relating to the WCG and Age Exchange Theatre Company, 1983. This portion of the collection is uncatalogued and not yet available.

Administrative / Biographical History

Betty Heathfield (1927-2006) was born into a mining family in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She attended Chesterfield Girls' School and won a university scholarship, which she did not take up for financial reasons. Instead she left school at sixteen to work as a secretary in a local engineering company and became interested in left-wing politics, joining the Young Communist League. In 1953 she married Peter Heathfield, a miner who became the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. She was active in her own right in labour politics in Chesterfield, as a member of the Co-Operative Women's Guild, and a founding member of the Derbyshire Women’s Action Group. She became one of the spokeswomen and leading members of the national Women Against Pit Closures organisation during the miners’ strike of 1984-1985. Alongside Anne Scargill she led the support campaign for miners' families - organising financial aid, holidays for children, and touring the USA and Canada to raise support for British mining communities. She also took part in an oral history and writing project to document the experiences of women during the action. After the end of the strike, Heathfield studied for a politics degree at Lancaster University. She was also involved in a Women’s Co-operative Guild Age Exchange Theatre Company project on the history of the Guild. After suffering from Alzheimer's disease she died on 16 Feb 2006.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research, uncatalogued material remains unavailable.

Acquisition Information

Collection stored in The Fawcett Library Office until Jan 1994 when the decision was taken to treat the collection as an archive. The interview transcripts were anonymised in Jun 2006.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Papers of Jean McCrindle, including records of Women Against Pit Closures, are also held at The Women’s Library, ref: 7JMC. The records of South Wales Women Against Pit Closures are held in Glamorgan Record Office. Additional oral history material is catalogued in Strand 8.