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TWINING, Louisa (1820-1912)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 7LOT
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: TWINING, Louisa (1820-1912)
Date(s): 1840-1871
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 1 OS box (207 items)
Name of creator(s): Twining | Louisa | 1820-1912 | poor law reformer
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Louisa Twining (1820-1912) was born in 1820, the grandchild of Richard Twining, the head of the firm of tea and coffee merchants. She was educated at home and later attended lectures at the Royal Institute. She was a talented artist and her first publication, in 1852, was the book Symbols and Emblems of Early and Mediaeval Art. It was the year after this that she became aware of the problems presented by the workhouse when she visited a former nurse in one such establishment. She organised a workhouse-visiting scheme amongst her friends but attempts to implement it were rejected by the local Poor Law Board. Attempts to sway the board through personal interventions, letters to the press and lectures met with little success until 1855, when the Rev. JS Brewer published one of Twining's lectures in 'Practical Lectures to Ladies'. A further pamphlet entitled 'A Few Words about the Inmates of Our Union Workhouses' followed this, while a petition was also circulated. The effect of this was that the first visiting committee was set up in 1857 and the following year she established a campaigning organisation under the title of the Workhouse Visiting Society that published its journal from Jan 1859 until 1865 and was active in workhouse reform. It's stated aim was 'the promotion of the moral and spiritual improvement of Workhouse inmates' and the organisation was especially concerned with the care of children and the ill, work which would lead her to take an interest in the question of nursing in later life. This work over a period of five years had equipped Twining with a significant knowledge of the Workhouse system and consequently she was asked to give a paper to a meeting of the Social Science Association that took place in 1857. Two years later, she undertook several interviews with the Poor Law Boards and was subsequently asked to give evidence on Poor Schools the following year. Her statement called for women poor law inspectors and for girls to receive training in a suitable trade, a call that resulted in the appointment of Mrs Nassau Senior as the first female Poor Law Inspector in 1872. She went on to try to have measures adopted to improve the standard of workhouse nursing and in 1870 set up the Workhouse Infirmary Nursing Association. Her interest in training for girls had been evident for a number of years. Since 1850 she had given classes for women at the Working Men's College as well as attending lectures herself at Queen's College and she would later become involved with the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. She was elected as one of the first female poor law guardians in 1884 (she was a guardian for Kensington and Tunbridge Wells) and remained in this post until 1890. In 1900 she retired from work and died in Tunbridge Wells in 1912.


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive consists of one letterbook including correspondence with Thomas Henry Estcourt, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, Anna Brownell Jameson, Sir Walter Crofton, Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, Sir William Hood, Elizabeth Rayner Parkes and Florence Nightingale.

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:

Deposited Jul 1980 through Winifred Myers.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Twining's correspondence with Henry Bonham Carter (1865) is held by London Metropolitan Archives (Ref. H/ST/NC18/5) while her notebooks and papers kept as a student at Queen's College, London are in the Queen's College Library.

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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