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Museum Collection: Postcard Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 TWL.postcard
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Museum Collection: Postcard Collection
Date(s): 1906-2000
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1,144 postcards (plus 200+ postcards identified in the archives)
Name of creator(s): The Women's Library
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:


Scope and content/abstract:

As at Jan 2009, The Women's Library held approximately 1,144 postcards in the Museum Collection, with 211 postcards identified in the archives. The earliest postcards held result from suffrage campaigning and include: documentary photographs of suffrage activities and events, and portraits of activists produced by the Women's Social and Political Union, the Women's Freedom League, and illustrated propaganda cards produced by the Artists' Suffrage League and the Suffrage Atelier. The collection also includes a significant number of anti-suffrage comic cards produced by commercial printers. There is a range of cards illustrating the campaigns for women's enfranchisement in Holland, Sweden, France and USA amongst other countries. Women's contribution to the First World War is documented in a number of postcards that represent the Scottish Women's Hospitals and other hospitals.

In addition, the collection contains contemporary postcards dating from the late 1970s to the present day. It includes a selection of satirical cartoons concerned with female characteristics and roles, a range of cards produced by women's organisations and campaign groups, particularly peace groups, cards representing campaigning on issues internationally. Most postcards in the collection are blank on the reverse side. There are a number, such as those sent by women on the suffrage caravan tours and during the First World War, which were sent and the text may be useful for research.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The postcards are arranged in boxes (the location codes used for ordering are in brackets) by the following subjects:

* Portraits A-Z; Funerals; Group Portraits (Postcard Box 01) [staff location code 126]

* Anti-Suffrage; Artists' Suffrage League; Miscellaneous Artists; Suffrage Atelier; Women's Freedom League; Women's Social and Political Union (Postcard Box 02) [staff location code 127]

* Suffrage Caravan Tours; Suffrage Celebrations; Suffrage Demonstrations; Suffrage Deputations; Suffrage Petitions; Suffrage Arrests; Suffrage Trials; Suffrage Fairs and Bazaars; Education; Fashion; Everyday life. (Postcard Box 03) [staff location code 128]

* International Suffrage; Suffrage Meetings; Suffrage Processions (Postcard Box 04) [staff location code 129]

* WSPU Offices; Suffrage Publicity and Propaganda; Suffrage Shops and Stalls; Suffrage Theatricals; Mrs A Broom - Photographer; Women's Service House; Women's Tax Resistance League; First World War (Postcard Box 05) [staff location code 130]

* Modern Postcards; Cartoons and Illustrations; Women's Peace Campaigning; Women's Publishing Organisations; UK Women's Organisations; UK Women's Events; UK Women's Campaigns; International Women's Campaigning; Women and Advertising; Women and the Media; Women and Education (Postcard Box 06) [staff location code 131]

* (Postcard Box 07) [staff location code 132]

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit. Objects from Postcard Collection may be requested for research in the Reading Room.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Images of some of these postcards can be seen in The Women's Library online catalogue. The Women's Library uses Mary Evans Picture Library (MEPL) to provide images from its collections, see

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library Archives also contain postcards. Primarily these were postcards created by organisations for publicity purposes, although additional postcards were used in correspondence. Key archives include 2ASL The Artist's Suffrage League archive (approx. 40 postcards); 5WCC Wildcat Card (approx 70 cards) cards created by this feminist collective Sheffield card company 1980s; 7JAN Papers of Jayne and Juliet Nelson (17 postcards) relating to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, UK and international peace movements; 7MCA Margaret Corbett Asby (approx 12 postcards) and 7TBG Teresa Billington Grieg (approx 12 postcards, both archives hold suffrage, photographic and correspondence postcards. A search using the 'object name' field and the word 'postcard' will bring up all postcards catalogued at item level in the museum and archive collections. Postcards are spread across the archives, often included as correspondence and are not identified at item level in the catalogue. As from 2004 archive catalogues at The Women's Library try to identify individual postcards using the 'ObjectName' field. However users specifically interested in this format should also search for 'postcard*' in the any text field to discover additional reference to postcard/s across the collections. Postcards are also known to survive in the following uncatalogued archive collections: 5WCC; 6MOW. [These are currently unavailable to researchers].

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Museum Collection description by Gail Cameron, The Women's Library Dec 2006. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2009.

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