Printed Collections: Periodical Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 PC/05
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3,000+- titles

Scope and Content

Over 3,000 periodical titles are held dating from 1745, some in single issues, but many in complete or representative runs. The Periodicals Collection brings together academic, popular and campaigning women's journals in one location and gives a unique insight into periodicals published about, for and by women. Titles range from commercially-produced popular magazines (Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan), to academic quarterlies (Gender & History, Feminist Review), organisational journals (One Parent Families, National Association of Women Pharmacists), special interest publications (Executive Black Woman), and older titles such as the English Woman's Journal. Many of these titles are not held in other research collections. The non-commercial nature of many of these periodicals with limited self-published print runs, resulted in periodicals that were issued irregularly, on poor quality paper and often only selectively deposited with the main copyright libraries.


The Library's collection of commercially published magazines, a key resource for research into social history and popular culture, begins with the Ladies' Almanack of the 1740s and documents women's fashion and domestic concerns from runs of the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, The Queen, Ladies' Magazine, Ladies Monthly Magazine and Lady, Gentlewoman, in the 19th century; Home Chat, Woman's Weekly, Woman, Woman's Own, Honey, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire in the 20th century; Grazia, Glamour and Easy Living of more recent years. Also included are some magazines aimed at girls and young women such as The Girls' Own Paper, Petticoat, Just 17 and Jackie.


At the heart of the Periodical Collection are the women's campaigning journals and feminist periodicals. The collection of feminist periodicals at The Women's Library is unrivalled in its extent and breadth. It begins with the English Woman's Journal of the mid-19th century, and continues with titles such as The Young Women and includes complete runs of titles such as The Women's Penny Paper, the Woman's Herald, Victoria Magazine, the Woman's Signal, the Woman's Leader, Englishwoman's Review, Englishwoman, Freewoman, Time and Tide, Woman's Gazette, and Shafts all of which were key to the development of feminist theory and progressive ideas.


The Library's extensive collection of suffrage periodicals is central to the study of women's rights in the 20th century, titles including Votes for Women, Common Cause, Woman's Dreadnought, The Vote, the Women's Suffrage Journal, Women's Franchise, the Suffragette Newssheet, the Independent Suffragette, Britannia, and the Suffragette as well as titles such as the Anti-Suffrage Review.


The collection of journals documenting 'second-wave' feminism in the UK includes complete runs of titles such as Spare Rib and Trouble & Strife and near complete runs of other liberation titles such as Red Rag, Shrew, WIRES, Outwrite and the London Women's Liberation Newsletter. Regional involvement was an integral part of the movement and this is charted through a number of regional titles including Brighton and Hove Women's Liberation Group, Edinburgh Women's Liberation newsletter, Leeds Women's Liberation newsletter, Leicester Women's Liberation newsletter, Manchester Women's Liberation newsletter and Norwich Women's Centre newsletter,


The periodical holdings continue to document the development of contemporary feminism, sometimes referred to as 'third wave', with titles including Verve and Subtext. Additional contemporary feminist publications can be found within our 'zine' collection (dating from 2002).


Periodicals created by women's organisations, networks and campaigns. These can include weekly or monthly newsletters and magazines aimed at members, quarterly and annual journals aimed at members and a wider academic audience, and annual reports aimed at a wider audience. Given the short life of many campaigning organisations, their newsletters and bulletins often provide the main record of their activities. Few of these publications are held elsewhere, and they are only selectively deposited with national collections, organisations include: the Fawcett Society, National Council of Women, The National Federation of Women's Institutes (Home & Country), Townswomen's Guilds (The Townswoman), UK Federation of Business & Professional Women, Girls' Friendly Society, Executive Black Woman, Catholic Citizen and National Association of Women Pharmacists document women's efforts to come together to improve the quality of their lives.


Whilst retaining the collecting focus of women's lives in the UK, there are a number of subject specialist interest areas including:

* The Arts - titles such as Feminist Arts News, Heresies: a feminist publication on art and politics, n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, Vogue and Women's Art Magazine;

* Domestic Violence - titles such as Rights of Women Bulletin, Violence Against Women: an international interdisciplinary journal and Women at War: preventing gun violence, WAVAV - Women Against Violence Against Women;

* Education - titles such as Gender and Education, The Woman Teacher, Gen: an anti-Sexist Education Journal, British Federation of University Women, and The Parents' Review;

* Employment - titles such as Work and Leisure, Women's Union Journal, Labour Woman, Women's Trade Union Review, Equality Now: magazine of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Executive Woman, the Woman Worker, The Woman Engineer: journal of the Woman's Engineering Society and Double shift: working women's newsletter;

* Family and the home - titles such as Women's Weekly, Woman's Own, Family Planning Today and New Home economics;

* Feminist Theory - titles such as Feminist Studies, Feminist Economics, Feminist Theory, and the International Journal of Feminist Studies;

* Health - titles such as Women and Health, Top Sante, London Black Women's Health Action project newsletter and Mental Health.

* Law - titles such as ALRA newsletter: Campaigning for a Woman's Right to Choose on Abortion, Family Law, Individualist: monthly journal of personal rights, Lesbian Employment Rights, and Rights of Women Bulletin, National Abortion Campaign;

* Literature - titles such as Mslexia, Silver Moon Quarterly and Writing Women;

* Media - titles such as Feminist Media Studies, The Woman Journalist and Women's Media Action Bulletin.

* Medicine - titles such as Women in Medicine: newsletter of the Medical Women's Federation and National Association of Women Pharmacists newsletter

* Motherhood - titles such as Home and Family: journal of the Mother's Union, Journal of Marriage and Family, Maternity Alliance, Gingerbread, One Parent Families, World Congress of Mothers News and Information;

* Sexuality - titles such as Sappho, Sex Roles: a journal of research, Journal of the history of sexuality, Chroma, Diva, Arena Three and Dykelife;

* Women and peace - titles such as Woman today, Greenham Newsletter, Peace and Freedom News: journal of the British Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Sellafield Women's Peace Camp Newsletter, Women for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Newsletter and WoMenwith Hill: Women's Peace Camp Newsletter

* Politics - titles such as Equal Opportunities International, Gender and Society and the NAWO e-bulletin (National Alliance of Women's Organisations);

* Prostitution - titles such as The Shield: to promote the repeal of Contagious Diseases Act, Network: news from the English Collective of Prostitutes and WHISPER: Women hurt in systems of prostitution engaged in revolt.

* Ethnicity - titles such as Pride, Race Today and Manushi

* Religion - titles such as Church Militant, Jewish Women's Review, Catholic Citizen, Newsheet/Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Solidarity Network, and Movement for the Ordination of Women;

* Science and Technology are The Woman Engineer, Science for People, Women Chemists Newsletter and Forum: Journal of the Association for Women in Science and Engineering.

* Sport - titles such as Poise: the Health and beauty magazine, Ladies' Alpine Club, The Dyke: Lesbian Walkers' Magazine, Women in Sport: the Voice of Women's Sport and Outdoor Women.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Women's Library was founded in 1926 as the Library of the London Society for Women's Service, later known as the Fawcett Society. They ran the Library until 1977, when it moved to City Polytechnic, later known as London Guildhall University, and is now part of London Metropolitan University. The Women's Library moved to new premises in 2002, comprising a reading room, exhibition hall, lecture theatre, office and activity spaces. By 2008 The Women's Library was an Accredited Museum and the Archive Museum and Library collections were awarded Designated Status by the Department of Culture Media & Sport, as being of national and international importance.

For detailed corporate histories and biographies for the following see The Women's Library Archive and Museum Catalogue

* The Women's Library; 1926-fl.2008

* Friends of The Women's Library; 1978-fl.2008

See the biography for

* Douie; Vera (1894-1979); Librarian, The Fawcett Library

* Pankhurst; Rita Jacqueline [née Eldon] (1927-); academic, librarian and campaigner


Alphabetical by title, then chronological

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Mainly by deposit, a proportion (primarily academic titles) by purchase.

Other Finding Aids

The Printed Collections can be consulted via an online catalogue available at Additional guides in the form of Source Notes are available online.

Alternative Form Available

Some of the more heavily used fragile material (mainly suffrage) is available in The Women's Library Reading Room on microfiche.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds a Zine Collection of self published magazines dating from 2002.