AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Women's Institute [Club]: (Autograph Letter Collection)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 9/15
Held at: Women's Library
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Women's Institute [Club]: (Autograph Letter Collection)
Date(s): 1897-1928
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 1 A box (1 volume)
Name of creator(s): Women's Institute | 1897-1928 x Women Only Club
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The club named the Women's Institute (1897-1928) predated the more famous National Federation of Women's Institutes by almost two decades and was of a very different character. It was founded in 1897 at 15 Grosvenor Crescent by Mrs Nora Wynford Philipps and was intended to be a centre for women involved in the professions, education, social and philanthropic work. It was also intended to make other societies' work better known through its information bureau and co-operated with the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women regularly. It initially held weekly debates and 'at homes' run by the Executive Committee and organised a musical society, an art society, a recreational department, a circulating library, and a voluntary workers' society for philanthropic work. It also organised a secretarial department that undertook the training of typists and book keepers as well as an employment service for its members. At the same time it acted as a centre for the organisation of social and educational activities and a centre for research and dissemination of information on various subjects. It was responsible for the publication of several works such as Mrs Sidgwick's 'The Place of University Education in the Life of Women', pamphlet versions of lectures and the 'Dictionary of Employments Open to Women'. By the turn of the century it had over 800 members and maintained links with over 45 other groups, making it necessary to move to its second location at 92 Victoria Street from where a large range of other feminist organisations operated. In 1916 it was responsible for the opening of the Women's Club for the wives and mothers of servicemen and during the First World War gave rooms to the British Women's Patriotic League, the London School of Needlework, the Women's Local Government Society and the Head Mistresses Association amongst others. After the war, it was the location of meetings of the Dexter Club, the Censorship Club and the association for former members of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. While is appears to have still been active in 1925, activities ceased some time around 1928.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection contains letters to the Women's Institute from its members including Miss Beale, Dr Mary Scharlieb, Emma Cons, Walter B McLaren, Florence Dixie, Henrietta Barnet, Margaret Bondfield, Helen Gladstone, Helen Blackburn, Elizabeth Haldane, Ethel Moberley Bell, Madge Kendal, Ethel Smythe, Lady Isabel Somerset, Lena Ashwell, Mrs Fawcett, Cicely Hamilton, Rosita Forbes, Miss P Strachey, Charlotte C Stopes, EM Sidgwick, Flora Anne Steel and Nina Boyle.

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. Available on microfiche only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Abstracts of individual letters in the autograph letters collection were written and held alongside the letters. This work was done from the 1960s by volunteers including Nan Taylor. In 2004 Jean Holder completed a 3 year project to list the letters, copy-type the abstracts, and repackage the letters to meet preservation needs. In 2005 Vicky Wylde and Teresa Doherty proof read and imported the entries to the Special Collections Catalogue.

The original card index of all correspondents, including date of letter and volume reference, is available on the microfiche.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Also held at The Women's Library is a scrapbook relating to The Women's Institute (10/38).

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:

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"