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National Women's Register

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 5NWR
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: National Women's Register
Date(s): 1960-2001
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 19 A boxes; 1 badge box
Name of creator(s): The National Women's Register
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The National Women's Register; 1960-fl.2007 was established in 1960 by Maureen Nicol. Nicol was a Wirral housewife who wrote in response to an article in The Guardian, 'perhaps housebound wives with liberal interests and a desire to remain individuals could form a national register so that whenever one moves one can contact like-minded friends?' This became the 'Liberal-minded Housebound Wives' Register', quickly renamed the 'Housebound Wives' Register' with Nicol as the first national organiser. Local groups were formed which organised activities autonomously but which were administered on a regional basis. A national newsletter was published giving news of group activities, spread of membership and profiles of members. When the second national organiser, Brenda Prys-Jones, took over in 1962, the organisation had grown in size but remained financially unstable. It was not until 1966 that the organisation became known as the National Housewives' Register and it was 1967 before the first National Conference was held in Buxton. The following year the first overseas groups were created in Australia and Canada. By 1970 there were 15,000 members, making it necessary to appoint joint paid National Organisers. In 1973 the Register began to undertake a process which led to the election of the first National Group at the Bristol Conference in 1976 by which time there were 800 groups and 19,000 members. 1977 saw the launch of the overseas Newsletter, 'Register Worldwide' and in 1980 the group was granted Charitable Status with: Maureen Nicol, Betty Jerman and Mary Stott appointed as trustees. That same year membership rose to 22,000 and an international conference was held in Buckinghamshire. The following year Betty Jerman published 'The Lively-Minded Women', a history of the first 20 years of NHR and by 1982 28 countries had affiliated groups. Four years later the NHR became a Charitable Company limited by guarantee while the Research Bank and the subsidised workshop scheme were also established. The organisation's name was changed to the National Women's Register in 1987 following a postal ballot of all members. However, the late 1980s saw the beginning of a gradual fall in membership that was to continue through the following decade. To combat this a process of regionalisation began which continued into the mid-1990s. By 1998 it became necessary to organise consultation days to discuss future directions which only 24% of affiliated groups attended. The choice offered was between (a) winding down, (b) appointing a professional Executive Officer or (c) a board of 5 Trustee Directors and 2/3 National Co-ordinators, with larger honoraria and the use of consultants. Option (c) was chosen by the 39% of members who returned their voting slips. The following year the lack of enough co-ordinating volunteers to maintain the National Group made it necessary to appoint paid staff to this function and the National Group was dissolved at the AGM held at the National Conference in Exeter. In 2001 Membership stood at around 7,800.


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive consists of minutes, correspondence, printed publicity material, distributional material such as newsletters and circulars (1960-1989), publicity materials (1960s-1980s); printed leaflets, press cuttings, videos, tape cassettes, slides, and biographical notes of the members of the National Group (1988).


NHR National Housewives Register

NWR National Womens Register

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

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

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

The Women's Library Catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

The records were deposited by the organisation at the Women's Library in Feb 1986 and additional deposits have been made on a regular basis.

Immediate source of acquisition:

A previous list was produced in 1991, however with the subsequent accruals it was clear that the collection needed to be sorted and catalogued in such a way as to accommodate the additional material.

The 1991 arrangement was as follows:

5NWR/A - National Groups

5NWR/B - Local Groups

5NWR/C - Circulars

5NWR/D - Publicity

5NWR/E - Press Cuttings.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

'The Lively-Minded Women' by Betty Jerman can be consulted at The Women's Library (class number 305.4364906041).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Finding aid created by export from CALM v7.2.14 Archives Hub EAD2002. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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