Records of the British Federation of Business & Professional Women

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes of the predecessor body, the British Federation of Business & Professional Women Clubs (1933-1935); minutes of the British Federation of Business & Professional Women's Executive Committee (1953-1969), finances and general purposes (1960-1967) and Bridge Committees (1949-1955); minutes of the membership (1954-1955), augmented officers on organisation (1958-1959), publicity (1958-1959), constitutional review (1960), United Nations (1960) and ad-hoc (1955) sub-committees; papers of Annual General Meetings (1942-1971), conference papers, publications (1936-1970); journal 'Women at Work' (1946-1951), newsletters (1960-1967), correspondence and case files (1941-1966), annual accounts (1958-1971), press cuttings (1964-1967); publications of the International Federation of Business & Professional Women including journal 'Widening Horizons' (1942-1958) and reports (1936-1965).

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Federation of Business & Professional Women (1933-1969) was formed as the British Federation of Business & Professional Women Clubs in 1933 through the efforts of the Women's Advertising Club of London and the Women's Engineering Society. However, a meeting was called by the International Federation of Business & Professional Women in Jan 1935 to discuss the Federation's future status. It was decided to disband the group and set up an ad-hoc committee to draft a constitution for a new British Federation of Business & Professional Women (BFBPW) which was established a few months later. The object of the new Federation was to promote and safeguard the interests of business and professional women, to establish closer co-operation between them, to secure affective and consistent co-ordination of action on matters affecting their mutual interests and also to promote their professional standards and training. In addition to the core Executive committee and subcommittees, the group also had a Bridge Committee established to co-ordinate the relationships between the British and International Federations and the separate British Federation of Business & Professional Women's Clubs. The BFBPW contributed to discussions on women's status in the pre-war period, but its most intense period of activity occurred during the Second World War. When in Feb 1940 it became clear that female workers were not being employed in areas where labour shortages were evident, the group approached several women MP's to engage the government on this matter. One month later, the Woman Power Committee was established as a result of talks between Lady Astor and Caroline Haslett, Chair of the BFBPW, to protect the interests of British women during the war. Subsequently, the group became involved in the issues of unequal compensation payments for men and women offered by 1941's Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme to those rendered unable to work. This scheme was opposed by women's organisations and action was jointly co-ordinated by the National Association of Women Civil Servants and the British Federation of Business & Professional Women. A committee was instituted, firstly on an ad-hoc and then a permanent basis, with representatives from the Women Power Committee, The National Association of Women Civil Servants, the British Federation of Business & Professional Women, the National Council of Women, the Women's Publicity Planning Association and later the Women's Freedom League. A select committee was subsequently instituted which overturned the existing legislation and resulted in equal compensation rates being paid in 1943. With this achieved, attention was extending the work to equal pay more generally and the Federation took a leading part in the Equal Pay Campaign and sent representatives to sit on both the central and the advisory committee of that organisation. After the Second World War, the federation had an important role in the work of the International Federation of Business & Professional Women. It had equal representation at the international conferences with the National Federation of Business & Professional Women's Clubs as well as contributing to the work of the United Nations. It continued its campaign for equal pay for civil servants and teachers throughout the Fifties. When this objective was achieved, it turned its attention to the more general issue of the status of women. However, financial difficulties had led a number of groups to leave the Federation in 1956 that in turn led the parent group itself to feel new financial pressures. This eventually led to its dissolution in 1969.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research, uncatalogued material remains unavailable. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds [duplicate?] copies of the newsletter of the British Federation of Business & Professional Women in the papers of Teresa Billington-Greig (See 7TBG). Other material relating to the British Federation of Business & Professional Women is contained in the papers of Phyllis Deakin, reference 7PAD.