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Open Door Council

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 5ODC
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Open Door Council
Date(s): 1926-1965
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 1 A box
Name of creator(s): Open Door Council
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Open Door Council (1926-1965) was established in 1926. After 1918, women over the age of thirty became entitled to vote for their MP and women's organisations that had previously campaigned for women's suffrage began to concern themselves with a wider range of issues. The sudden mass redundancy of women who had occupied traditionally male-dominated jobs between 1914 and 1918 focussed attention on the issue of women's employment and financial inequality. At the same time, they concerned themselves with the ongoing issue that had first been raised in the previous century: restrictive legislation such as limiting working hours which applied only to women and with the aim of 'protecting' them against industrial exploitation. However, there was no consensus within the movement regarding the appropriate response to protective legislation. An ideological split occurred at this time between those on the one hand who supported ideas such as an 'Endowment of Motherhood' which was intended to be paid to women to ensure their financial independence and, on the other, those who adopted a more strictly equalist position. In the mid-1920s, the Labour government proposed a series of bills which would extend this protective legislation and the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship of the time was being pressurised to change its equalist policies on the issue. In response to this situation, the Open Door Council was established in May 1926 by Lady Rhonnda (Six Point Group), Elizabeth Abbott (NUSEC), Miss Clegg (London Society for Women's Service), Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (Women's Freedom League) and Virginia Crawford (St Joan's Social and Political Alliance). The new groups object was to ensure a woman's opportunities, right to work and to protection at all stages of her life were the same as those of a man. By Jun 1927, the six members of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship who resigned over the issue of protective policies had joined their organisation. From its creation, the group intended to organise an international group to further their aims. In its first year, an international committee was formed and in Jun 1929 it held a conference in Berlin for individuals and organisations concerned with equality within the workplace. From this emerged a group called the Open Door International for the Economic Emancipation of the Woman Worker. The British parent body continued its work through the next decade, from 1933 spearheading the movement for the right of married women to work. During the Second World War, they campaigned on issues such as female volunteers in the Civil Defence Services receiving two-thirds the man's pay and compensation rate provided for by the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act of 1939 by traditional constitutional methods: deputations to the appropriate government ministers, public rallies and letters to major newspapers. They were also closely involved in the Equal Compensation Campaign from 1941 to 1943 and subsequently had representatives beside the Six Point Group and the Fawcett Society on the committee of the Equal Pay Campaign from 1944 to ensure equal pay in the Civil Service. The group was finally wound up in 1965.


Scope and content/abstract:

This archive consists of annual reports (1926-1938, 1941, 1947-1956, 1959, 1961, 1963-5); agendas and resolutions of Annual Meetings (1948-1963); memoranda (1929-1957); printed leaflets and pamphlets (1926-c.1947)

Abbreviations used include:

Cmd - Command Paper;

ILO - International Labour Organisation (United Nations);

ODC - Open Door Council;

ODI - Open Door International;

UNESCO - United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

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:

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

There was no contemporary accession number assigned as this material was taken from the Fawcett Library's UDC pamphlet collection and retrospectively 'created' as an archive in 1990.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library also holds the records of the Open Door International group (5ODI), the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (2NSE) and the Equal Pay Campaign (6EPC).

Publication note:

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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